George Washington Papers

From George Washington to Jeremiah Wadsworth, 25 November 1779

To Jeremiah Wadsworth

[West Point, 25 Nov. 1779]


The importance of this post, and the fatal consequences which may result from its being left bare of Provisions are too obvious to need description. I therefore desire that every possible exertion may be used to get at least a months provisions before hand for the four brigades of Massachusetts bay which are to garrison it and its dependencies—Your endeavours after having accomplished this are not to cease till you have increased the quantity in store for the same troops two months, which stock is always to be kept up and on hand.

In vain is it for me to point out from whence this provision is to be drawn as it must depend on your resources on the country.1 I cannot help adding as my earnest wish that the magazines at Albany and on Connecticut river (directed in my letter of the 9th of Septr) may be established with as little interruption as possible.2 And if in the progress of forming magazines agreeably to the sentiments contained in the aforesaid letter of the 9th of Sepr you can make Warwick convenient in other respects, it will answer well in a relative point of view to West-point—the march of troops on a sudden call for the defence of it—and ultimately for Albany—to have a small deposit there—and may accordingly be fixed upon with an eye to those purposes.

That you may regulate your supplies to the best advantage, and with the greatest saving in point of transportation, it is necessary you should know that the winter cantonments of the troops will be as follows.

The regiments of Dragoons at Hadham or Colchester.

Poors brigade at Danbury—Massachusetts brigades at West-point and its dependencies.

The main army in Jersey Somewhere back of the Scotch-plain or possibly more towards Acquacanack.3

Lees partizan corps at Burlington, or somewhat more advanced towards Monmouth. Given at Head Quarters West-point 25th Novr 1779.

Go: Washington

LS, in James McHenry’s writing, CtHi: Washington Letters and Papers; ADf, DLC:GW; Varick transcript, DLC:GW.

GW also wrote Wadsworth from West Point on 27 Nov.: “I have no doubt but you are making provision for throwing a number of Cattle over the North River before the passage is interrupted by the Ice—Being down at Kings ferry yesterday, I took notice of the delays and difficulties attending transporting Cattle at that place, and I therefore think you should direct part to be ferried over at New Windsor—and not depend too much upon Kings ferry, which being now the common passage, the Boats are much employed by travellers and others” (LS, in Tench Tilghman’s writing, IaHi; Df, DLC:GW; Varick transcript, DLC:GW).

1Wadsworth had written Samuel Huntington, president of Congress, from New Windsor, N.Y., on 24 Nov.: “We are now out of Bread & flour we cant execute the Law of this State for takeing one fourth part of the Wheat for want of Cash to Pay for it—if the River closes before the flour is in the Garrison at West Point it will be difficult if not impossible to get the flour into the Garrison. The universal want of Money Particularly by Champion & Cuyler two of my Deputies make me almost despair of keeping the Army alive” (DNA:PCC, item 78). Congress read Wadsworth’s letter on 4 Dec. and referred it to a committee (JCC, description begins Worthington Chauncey Ford et al., eds. Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774-1789. 34 vols. Washington, D.C., 1904–37. description ends 15:1347). In another letter to Huntington written at New Windsor on 26 Nov., Wadsworth stated that his deputies were “out of cash. And be assured bad as the money is, without we have it your army cannot be fed. Indeed I have very little prospect of giving them bread if I have money; but any further delay to furnish me with what is necessary will render it impossible to feed them. I have said so much & so often urged the necessity of furnishing money I do not think it necessary to add more than that” (DNA:PCC, item 78). Congress read Wadsworth’s letter on 2 Dec. and referred it to the same committee that received his letter of 24 Nov. on 4 Dec. (JCC, description begins Worthington Chauncey Ford et al., eds. Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774-1789. 34 vols. Washington, D.C., 1904–37. description ends 15:1340).

Wadsworth again wrote Huntington from Philadelphia on 13 Dec.: “The Army cannot be supplied with Beef Pork or other flesh Meat, without an immediate Supply of Money the Magazines of Salted Provisions will be very small as the Public Purchasers have been sometime without Cash & the private purchasers are buying up every kind of Provisions—I do not expect to furnish food for the Army ten days and was I to be this moment informed they were dispersing to seek it I should not be surprized” (DNA:PCC, item 78).

2In his letter to Wadsworth dated 9 Sept., GW identified Albany as “the place of the principal deposit” and suggested the establishment of magazines “at different places on Connecticut River from Coos downward as far as Hartford.”

3The search for a suitable winter encampment finally resulted in the selection of Jockey Hollow near Morristown (see Nathanael Greene to GW, 14 Nov., and n.1 to that document, and GW to Greene, 30 Nov., and n.2 to that document).

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