George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Major General Benedict Arnold, 31 August 1780

From Major General Benedict Arnold

Head Quarters Robinson’s House August 31st 1780

Dear Sir

Your Excellency’s Favor of the 26th was delivered me on the 28th by Mr Gamble, together with one from Colo. Stewart C.G. of Issues of the same Date.1

Agreeable to Your Excellency’s Directions and Colo. Stewarts request, I have ordered to Kings Ferry five hundred & fifty Barrels of Flour, leaving about five Days Issues in the Magazine, for the Use of the Troops in Garrison & the Posts in its Vicinity. With respect to the rum Colo. Stewart mentions not a syllable in his Letter, I have therefore declined sending Any.

I have advised Colo. Stewart, That the Quantity in Store will not be sufficient for the Issues to the Troops at this Post & its Vicinity, who are on constant Fatigue, for more than ten Days from this Date & that no more is expected. That to some of the Troops employed as Wood Cutters for the Winters Supply of this Post, the publick is already largely in Arrear in that Article, which will be issued from our small store this Week.

That as soon as the Issues of rum cease, It will be extremely difficult to have any more Fatigue don[e] here, by the Militia, Which will re[n]der the situation of the Troops who are to garrison this Post during the approaching Winter, very uncomfortable; And that for these reasons, I could not by any Means order any Part of our scanty Supply to be sent to him, Without a positive Order to that Purpose from Your Excellency.

I informed him, That Mr Stevens D.C.G. of Issues had advised me, That no rum was to be expected from the Eastward, & requested to be advised by him, whence we were to derive further Supplies for this Post.2

The Assistant Commissary of Issues here is not furnished with Fresh Meat for more than this Days Issues; And Mr Stevens informs me he expects no Supplies (a very trifling & uncertain one, from Colo. Hay Agent for this State excepted) unless a Part of the Cattle intended for the main Army from the Eastward are ordered to be stopped for the Use of the Troops here; And Colo. Stewart informs me that the Supplies for them are inadequate; I am therefore under the unhappy Necessity of ordering a Part of the scanty Stock of Salt Provisions in the Magazine to be issued for the present Subsistence of the Troops here & at the Posts near Us, This Measure is peculiarly distressing & very impolitic in Case the Enemy should have it in their Power to make a vigorous Effort against us & be enabled to invest these Posts. I hope that this Necessity will soon be superceded.

The Militia Officers are very clamorous & importunate to have rum issued to them, at all Times as Part of their rations; I have assured them it is not the Practice in the Main Army, & That our scanty Supplies render it impossible at prest But that I would write Your Excellency requesting your Instruction in the Matter.3

8 OClock A.M.

I am, just this Moment, honored with Your Excellency’s Favor of Yesterday’s Date covering the Proceedings of the Genl Court Martial; I shall govern myself agreeable to your Directions.4 I am with every respectful Sentiment Your Excellency’s Most Obedt & Very Hble Serv.

B. Arnold


1Charles Stewart, commissary general of issues, wrote Arnold from camp near Liberty Pole, N.J., on 26 Aug. that he had asked GW to have Arnold retain supplies for his troops for six days and then “forward all the Overplus to King’s ferry with the utmost dispatch” (DLC:GW).

2The preceding three paragraphs summarize Arnold’s letter to Stewart dated 30 Aug. (DLC:GW).

4GW had directed Arnold to execute the sentence “as General Officer commanding in a separate State” (see GW to Arnold, 30 Aug., found at GW to Arnold, 26 Aug., n.1).

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