George Washington Papers

To George Washington from John Mitchell, 17 February 1780

From John Mitchell

Philada 17 Feby 1780

Dr Sir

I shou’d have had the honor of writing your Excellency by Major Gibbs, but waited ’till I cou’d send you the Articles which were not then ready1—I have now sent by Mr Ling Express Rider a Matrass & Pillow, the Memorandum Books in a Box, and a large Silver Soop Spoon, I hope they will meet your aprobation.2 I have got the several things your Excellency ordered of the best kinds it was in my power to procure here—the prices are high but the very great depriciation of the money will acount for it it is astonishing how quick it has been lately, am told that it is now from 45 to 50 for one.

If the Tea pleases Mrs Washington I will indavour to get more of it, or some as good—hope the Carriage got up Safe. I went to as little expence as Possible, yet it comes high, copys of the several Bills I now inclose you.3 it will at all times give me particular pleasure to render your Excellency every service in my power the President of Congress has informed you of the News from the Southward, & from Martinique, we have no other at present.4

I beg leave to congratulate your Excellency, on the Defeat & disapointments of the Enemys Plan, and as we are informed full determination to make an Atack on your Quarters in hopes of surprising them—may every Intention and Idea of such a plan, revert with redoubled force on the Heads of those who atempt it, or harbour such a design I beg leave to assure your Excellency that it was with universal Joy, that the disapointment of the Enemys hopes and expectations were so compleatly frusterated, as it wou’d have been with the Same grief & horror we shou’d have thought on such a design, had we not known it had miscarried at the same moment we heard it had been intended.5

Mrs Mitchell Joins me in most respectfull complemts to your Excellency & Mrs Washington. I have the Honor to be with great respect & the highest esteem Your Excellencys Most Obedt and most hume Servt

Jno. Mitchell


1Maj. Caleb Gibbs had traveled to Philadelphia to bring Martha Washington’s chariot to Morristown, along with two servants and four horses (see General Orders, 16 Feb., source note).

2“Mr Ling” may have been the Philip Ling listed in a 1 Dec. 1779 return of the quartermaster department (DNA:PCC, item 39) and a 13 Sept. 1779 petition of inhabitants of Philadelphia to Congress (DNA:PCC, item 43).

3Mitchell enclosed a document, dated 15 Feb., summarizing the charges for items he had purchased for GW. He had paid George Hauhton £144 for twenty-four pounds of “Curlad Hair,” presumably for mattress stuffing; £11.5 for “Worsted tuffs twine & thread”; £37.10 for making a “Border’d Matrass & ⟨opening⟩ the hair.” Mitchell had also paid J. Davis £600 for eight pounds of green tea. He noted that he had paid cash to several merchants: £70 to Harding Williams for one box of “Printing Typres [Types] Compleat”; £75 to Ann Dunkin for one pound of green tea; £150 to Jos. Stansbury for two sets of breakfast cups and saucers; another £18.15 to Stansbury for “one pint bason”; £450 to Elizabeth Telfair for “one Flanders Bed Tick”; and £367.10 to Richard Humphreys for a silver soup spoon. Mitchell listed the total cost of the items as £1,894 (DLC:GW).

4On 12 Feb., Congress had received a letter from John Jay, minister plenipotentiary to the court of Spain, informing them of the severe damage to the frigate Confederacy that had forced the ship—which carried Jay and Conrad-Alexandre Gérard, the former minister plenipotentiary of France—to divert to the island of Martinique in the West Indies. Samuel Huntington wrote to GW on that day but did not mention Jay’s letter. The news from the south may be a reference to information in Maj. Gen. Benjamin Lincoln’s letter to GW of 23 Dec. 1779, which Huntington had forwarded to GW on 7 February.

5For this attempt to surprise GW’s headquarters, see Arthur St. Clair to GW, 11 Feb., and n.3 to that document.

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