George Washington Papers

Circular to the States, 2 June 1780

Circular to the States

Head Quarters Morris Town June 2d 1780


By the Letter from the Honble the Committee of Congress at Morris Town, which goes with these dispatches,1 You will find, that these Gentlemen and Myself, after maturely considering the matter, deem it essential to the success of the measures in contemplation to be carried on against the Enemy—to call on the States for certain Aids of Militia, in addition to the requisitions for Men already made; and that they should be at places of Rendezvous appointed by me, by the 15th day of next month. The Aid requested in this instance of your State, is founded on a principle of apportionment common to all the States, from New Hampshire to Maryland inclusive (the Others on account of their distance and the operations in the Southern quarter not being now called on) and is stated at 9452 rank & file. This number well armed—& equipped in every other respect for the Field in the best manner circumstances will admit, under proper Officers, I wish to be certainly at Claverac on Hudson’s River3 at the time mentioned by the Committee, which appears to me a suitable place for their rendezvousing at in the first instance—and from whence they will proceed on my Orders, as occasion may require. It will also be material, on account of disciplining and organising the Men, as well as on account of public œconomy—that they should be formed into full Regiments. If this is not done it will render our Arrangements extremely difficult & irregular, and will add, by greatly increasing the number of Officers, very considerably to the public expence. I would beg leave to observe, that I think the whole number of Militia requested from your State, should be comprised in Two Regiments4 about the same size, which would make them nearly equal to the establishment fixed for those of the Continental line. This additional aid—will not I trust and earnestly entreat, impede in the smallest degree, the filling up the Regiments of the State by Drafts to their full complement—as requested by the Honble the Committee in their Letter of the 25th5 Ulto—This is a point of such great importance—so absolutely essential to give the least prospect of success to our operations, and indeed on which they depend, that I could not forbear mentioning it. If the Regiments are compleated by Drafts—it is possible our demands for Militia may be a good deal diminshed; but this must be governed by events and therefore, for Objects so very interesting—so important as those to which we at present look, we should provide whatever may be possibly requisite. I have the Honor to be with great respect & esteem Sir Yr Most Obedt servant

Go: Washington

LS, in Robert Hanson Harrison’s writing, addressed to New Hampshire council president Meshech Weare, Nh-Ar: Weare Papers; LS (partially burned), in Harrison’s writing, addressed to New York governor George Clinton, N-Ar: George Clinton Papers; LS, in Richard Kidder Meade’s writing, addressed to Rhode Island governor William Greene, R-Ar; LS, in Tench Tilghman’s writing, addressed to Maryland governor Thomas Sim Lee, MdAA: Brown Book; L[S], in Meade’s writing, addressed to New Jersey governor William Livingston, Nj; LS (photostat), in Harrison’s writing, addressed to Massachusetts council president Jeremiah Powell, M-Ar; LS, in Alexander Hamilton’s writing, addressed to Pennsylvania Supreme Executive Council president Joseph Reed, NjMoHP: Park Collection; LS, in Meade’s writing, addressed to Delaware governor Caesar Rodney, NjMoHP: Park Collection; LS, in Tilghman’s writing, addressed to Connecticut governor Jonathan Trumbull, Sr., Ct: Trumbull Papers; Df, DLC:GW; copy, in Tilghman’s writing, addressed to Livingston, NN: William Livingston Papers; Varick transcript, DLC:GW. A table is appended to the copy addressed to Livingston that lists the “Requisitions from New Jersey”: “945 Militia Rank and File 500 Barrels of Flour p. Month. 36–760 lb. Beef p. month. 500 Bushels Salt p. month. 6057 Bushels Grain ⅌ month 900 Horses 51 Waggons with four Horse to Each.”

1In the copy of their circular of this date sent to GW, the Committee at Headquarters began by quoting the first two paragraphs of GW’s letter to the committee of 31 May. The committee then continued: “His Excellency next States the Enemie’s number, and position—mentions the points against which the combined Arms will probably be directed, and furnishes us with an estimate of the force which America ought to draw into the field—with others, exhibiting a state of the provisions, horses, carriages, and a variety of other articles indispensibly necessary to give vigor and a probable prospect of success to our operations. Duty and inclination equally impelled us to a conference with the General, and to the most serious consideration of the subject. The result was a determination, specifically to apportion to, and request from the States referred to in the resolutions of Congress of the 19th ult:, to furnish the requisite supplies by the first day of July. In estimating these, we have paid all possible regard to the probable resources of each, and to their relative position to those scenes of operation, which are at present in contemplation. We shall accordingly annex the kind and quantum of supplies which are monthly expected from your State; and we have to intreat that you will fully comply with the requisitions we have the honor to make, and that they will be kept up, in the same proportion until the last of November, if necessity should induce us to continue the application to that period, even although any of the articles now called for, should exceed the quota assigned you by the act of Congress of the 25th February last: and you will please, Sir, to signify to us, without delay, the determination of your State, on this important subject.

“Here it becomes our duty to advise you, as upon examination you will perceive, that we have stated your quota ⅌ month, in some articles, beyond what it would have been, could we have strictly adhered to the proportion on which the allotments made by the act of the 25th February last, were adjusted; but this was found impracticable, because of the exhausted condition of some of the states, in which the Army and its principal detachments have wintered. But as these, in the course of the campaign, will be enabled to afford more than they can at present, your quota as now stated, will of course diminish. The requisition, Sir, is large, but it is barely competent—It is the least adequate to the intended operations, as it is calculated on the most limited expenditures, without the smallest allowance for accidental losses, or extra consumption.

“Having given the States, a fixed point to regulate themselves by, their measures will be equal to it, and their exertions competent to the magnitude of the object. In matters of such high import, it appeared to the General and to us, essential that there should be a proper understanding on all hands. That the States should know the wants of the Army and what is expected for it. That the General and the Committee should be clearly and explicitly advised of their abilities, both individually, and collectively, and to have determined with precision, what may be expected. We do not fear to discourage by the largeness of the demand, as we conceive it impossible they should not bear with the knowledge of the wants of their Army, and because knowing them, we are perswaded their wisdom and patriotism will impel them to every exertion fully to afford the supplies.”

In separate sections, the committee’s circular then delineated the supplies required from various states, with the first monthly quota of supplies due by 1 July: from New Hampshire per month, 166,835 pounds of beef and 25 hogsheads of rum (plus 150 horses); from Massachusetts per month, 666,035 pounds of beef, 225 hogsheads of rum, and 4,571 bushels of grain for forage (plus 1,020 draft horses); from Rhode Island per month, 71,675 pounds of beef, 30 hogsheads of rum, and 2,285 bushels of grain for forage (plus 200 draft horses); from Connecticut per month, 1,500 barrels of flour, 666,035 pounds of beef, 100 hogsheads of rum, 500 bushels of salt, and 9,142 bushels of grain for forage (plus 30,000 pounds of bacon in three equal parcels monthly to the end of September, 100 ox carts, 400 oxen outfitted with yokes, and 1,000 draft horses); from New York per month, 71,675 pounds of beef, 140 barrels of flour, and 2,285 bushels of grain for forage (plus 600 draft horses); from New Jersey per month, 500 barrels of flour, 36,760 pounds of beef, 6,857 bushels of grain for forage, and 500 bushels of salt (plus 51 wagons, each with harness and 4 horses, and 696 draft horses); from Pennsylvania per month, 5,000 barrels of flour (with 1,000 barrels to be delivered at Easton, 1,000 at Coryell’s Ferry, and the remainder at Trenton), 166,835 pounds of beef or pork (delivered at Philadelphia), 9,142 bushels of grain for forage (with 1,500 bushels to be delivered at Easton, 1,500 at Coryell’s Ferry, and the remainder at Trenton), and 225 hogsheads of rum (plus 30,000 pounds of bacon in three equal parcels monthly to the end of September; 250 wagons, each with harness and 4 horses; and 1,500 draft horses); from Delaware per month, 500 barrels of flour, 71,675 pounds of beef, and 6,857 bushels of grain (plus 5,000 pounds of bacon in three equal parcels monthly to the end of September; 50 wagons, each with harness and 4 horses; and 300 draft horses); from Maryland per month, 2,500 barrels of flour, 143,045 pounds of beef, and 11,428 bushels of grain for forage (plus 30,000 pounds of bacon in three equal parcels monthly to the end of September; 50 wagons, each with harness and 4 horses; and 400 draft horses); from Virginia per month, 29,714 bushels of grain for forage and 60 hogsheads of rum (plus 60,000 pounds of bacon in three equal parcels monthly to the end of September). The committee had reduced New York’s quota of flour and beef because of the state’s “exhausted condition.”

The committee specified details regarding the delivery of supplies and horses and then continued the circular: “We believe it would be advantageous to the states in general, that the Carts, Oxen and horses, should be procured by hire, in preference to purchase, as the drivers who will then accompany them, will be more careful of the cattle—should your State adopt that mode, we recommend that the contracts may be made, payable in specie, or in paper money equivalent and that the value of the carts, waggons, oxen and horses should be appraised on oath, and a return of the appraisment be made to the quarter master general.

“As the object against which the military operations will be directed, cannot be positively ascertained, we have it not in our power to call on you for a determinate quantum of transportation, but believe it will be considerable. The Continental troops already engaged, and with the Army, together with the addition requested by the generals letter of the 25th ulto to compleat the battalions to 504 rank & file, will still in his opinion, and our own, be inadequate to secure success, in the intended operations. In our circular letter of the 25th ulto we intreated your legislature to adopt measures for drawing forth your militia on the shortest notice. We have now to request that such arrangements may be made, as that your quota of Militia, which, with the concurrence of the General, we state at [ ] rank & file.“ Since this number varied for each state, the committee referred GW to the numbers in the first column of the summary listing of the militia and supply requisitions that they had sent him with his copy of their circular (for this document, see below). The number of militia were: New Hampshire, 945; Massachusetts, 4,725; Rhode Island, 630; Connecticut, 2,520; New York, 1,575; New Jersey, 945; Pennsylvania, 3,465; Delaware, 315; Maryland, 2,205; and Virginia, 4,725.

The committee then directed that these militia should “rendezvous at the army, or at such posts and places as the General shall direct, by the fifteenth day of July next at furthest, & to continue in service for the term of three months, computing from the day of their arrival at such rendezvous, as aforesaid.

“Such of the supplies herein required, as make part of the quota assigned to your State, by the act of Congress of the 25th of February last, and which it is requested you will transport to, and deliver where the quarter master general, or commissary general shall direct, will be receipted for by the Continental officers appointed for that purpose, before either they, or your agents convey or transport the same beyond the limits of your State. If however such Continental officer should not be present, you will give directions, that the weight or quantity of the articles may be estimated & an account or invoice transmitted with each parcel. We have to observe, that in the beef requested, hides and tallow are not included; allowance must therefore be made for these, when cattle are sent to the Army. If drivers are sent with the draft horses & cattle required of your State, we wish to have one for every four horses or oxen.”

The committee closed their circular with a postscript: “We do most earnestly intreat that the requisition now made on your State, for the quota of Militia, may not be suffered on any consideration whatever to retard the completion of the Continental battalions, as recommended in our second circular letter of the 25th Ulto. The necessity of that measure becoming daily more striking and important” (DLC:GW).

The committee also sent GW on 30 June a document headed “Supplies requested from the States by the Committee of Congress, at Head Quarters in their Letter of the 2d June 1780” that presented state quotas in tabular form and gave grand totals required each month from the states: 10,140 barrels of flour; 2,060,570 pounds of beef; 665 hogsheads of rum; 1,000 bushels of salt; and 82,281 bushels of grain. The document similarly listed aggregate totals for the campaign: 155,000 pounds of bacon, 400 oxen, 7,470 horses, 100 ox carts, and 401 wagons. Total militia to reinforce the army was 22,050 (DLC:GW; filed with the 2 June documents).

In an undated memorandum, which he docketed “Monthly Requesitn of the States within named,” GW wrote the amounts of provisions, wagons, carts, oxen, and horses due from each state; the states and numbers follow the committee’s circular of this date (AD, DLC:GW).

2This number was left blank on the draft and varies for each state. A table appended to the end of the draft lists the number of militia required of each of the other states. These numbers are the same as those given in the committee’s circular letter (see n.1). The table does not list the militia requirement for Virginia, because GW did not address this circular to that state. Congress had designated Virginia as part of the southern department.

3This location was left blank on the draft and varies for each state. The table appended to the end of the draft specifies the places of rendezvous for militia of the other states: Massachusetts: Claverack, N.Y.; Rhode Island: Providence; Connecticut: Danbury; New York: Fishkill; New Jersey: Morristown; Pennsylvania: Easton, Pa., and Trenton, N.J.; Delaware: Wilmington; and Maryland: Head of Elk.

4The number of regiments was left blank on the draft and varies for each state. At this place on the draft, instead of “Regiments,” the word “Battallions” is lined out and no word inserted in its place. The remainder of this sentence does not appear on the LS addressed to Greene, the LS addressed to Lee, the LS addressed to Livingston, the LS addressed to Reed, or the LS addressed to Rodney. The remainder of the sentence does appear on the copy addressed to Livingston. The table appended to the end of the draft specifies the number of regiments for each of the other states: Massachusetts, nine; Rhode Island, one; Connecticut, five; New York, three; New Jersey, two; Pennsylvania, seven; Delaware, one; and Maryland, four.

5Harrison left this date blank on the draft. Tilghman left this date blank on the copy addressed to Livingston. For the committee’s circular to the states of 25 May, see GW to the Committee at Headquarters, that date, n.1.

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