George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Major General Nathanael Greene, 12 August 1780

From Major General Nathanael Greene

Camp Tappon [N.Y.] Augt 12th 1780


We have fifty eight private property teams now in public service with the army. What shall be done with them? The new regulation says that none shall be kept in public service that are the property either of military or staff officers.1 These are all under this predicament. The owners apply to have their teams discharged or some special assurances given that they shall be paid for their future service.

The Army now requires at least eighty waggons to put it in a condition to move; exclusive of a great number that is wanted for the Commissary’s and forage department. If these are discharged, it will add so much to the distress of the service. The owners of the teams that belong to the Staff, will quit with their waggons, and the army will have to furnish fifty eight waggoners, as all the private property teams are drove by private waggoners—the People are anxious to get their teams out of service; but I dont care under present circumstances to let them go without your Excellency’s direction therein, es⟨peci⟩ally as we are now impressing from the country ⟨to⟩ keep up the necessary transportation. I beg yo⟨ur⟩ Excellency’s immediate answer upon the subject, as the people are waiting.2 I am with great respect your Excellency’s most obdt hume Servt

Nath. Greene M. General


1For the new regulations of the quartermaster general’s department, see GW to Greene, 26 July, n.1.

The particular regulation cited by Greene reads: “That no military or staff officer shall own, or in any manner be interested in any boat, shallop, waggon, or other carriage, horse or team, employed on hire or contract, in the service of the United States, on pain of forfeiting a sum equal to that which shall have become due for the service of such boat, shallop, waggon, or other carriage, horse or team, during the whole time they shall have been so employed; and for a second offence such officer shall be dismissed from the service” (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 , 17:632–33).

2GW replied to Greene on this date from headquarters: “In answer to your letter of this day, I am to desire you will retain the teams you mention and give the owners the usual assurances of payment for the⟨eir⟩ future service. … I take it for granted every practicable step will be taken to provide others in their place as speedily as possible” (Df, in Alexander Hamilton’s writing, DLC:GW; Varick transcript, DLC:GW).

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