George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Jonathan Trumbull, Sr., 31 August 1780

From Jonathan Trumbull, Sr.

Lebanon [Conn.] 31st August 1780


I have the honor to receive inclosed in a circular Letter from the Honble Committee of Cooperation, a Copy of your letter to them dated 17th instant.1 I am sorry to find the large deficiences from the respective States as expressed in that letter.

I think it my duty to inform your Excellency that measures have been, & still are taking to furnish the men requested from this State, with the other requisites of provisions, teams, horses &c.2—that I belive the men will be soon collected to the army, not without some unavoidable, tho’ I hope no great failures. The men to serve in the Continental Army ’till the first of January, are daily going forward3—the three months men are also Collecting.4 Of these latter Hez. Wyllys Esqr. Lt Colo. Commandant hath with him at New London, and on Norwich River cutting and preparing fascines, gabions &c. about 800—he is with me this day—informs that work is now going on well, and will not be long in accomplishing, and his corps ready to join the army5—The rest were order’d to Danbury—Lt Colonels Welles and Beebe with their Regiments are at Horseneck, ready for your call—Hope when they are marched off, that place may be in greater safety than they have been for some time past6—The appearance of any thing decisive being undertaken, this State, I think will supply men sufficient to fill all it’s deficiences in that regard, by sending volunteers and independent Companies to enter the service, agreeable to a proposition sent me by B. Genl Parsons.7

On the score of provisions, Good Providence hath afforded ample supplies. The regulations of Congress have put us into a condition, whereby they, especially the fresh Beef, I fear will come on to the Army very irregularly. We have been endeavouring a Correspondence of the Superintending Commissaries of the New England States, that they may know and keep up a regular course of droves of cattle.8 This State, if I am not misinform’d is in advance beyond the rest, and the requisition made from it—I have heard there hath been a time lately when the army were destitute of cattle on hand—and at other times there may be more than is convenient9—The droves ought to be under a direction which will bring them on regularly—This State have at New London four or five hundred barrels of best Irish Mess Beef, which, if requested, may be sent—It will be but to take an opportunity to send it into Connecticut River to Middletown or Hartford, which will be a great saving in expence of carriage—which brings me to the Quarter-Master’s Department—the new regulations of which I fear, will bring on us fresh embarassments—I should have thought former experience would have taught a useful lesson, on the expediency of making such refin’d rules, and changes in the season for an Active campaign—however, this State will make the best of it—though my fears are many.10

The great difficulties and perplexities you are laid under, when duly notified to the concerned, and not remov’d, must forever exculpate Your Excellency from imputations of blame—it is my wish also to exculpate this State.

The affair of our Currency is in a delicate situation—I see nothing to relieve but taxation & loans.

The enemy are endeavouring to sap the foundation of our credit, by draining us of our specie by clandestine trade—by sending out their emissaries with Goods to sell for hard money only, and by the nefarious practice of sending counterfeit Bills amongst us. The Lord reigns is just matter for our rejoicing with thankfulness for mercies receiv’d and in hope of those we still stand in need of; and a real belief thereof, a solid foundation for our humble trust in him—for he is Good—a stronghold in the day of trouble, he knoweth them that trust in him.11 I am with every sentiment of Esteem & Consideration Your Excellency’s Most Obedient Humble Servant

Jonth; Trumbull


2For these quotas, see Circular to the States, 2 June, n.1.

3The six-month levies in Continental service were scheduled for discharge before 1 Jan. 1781 (see Christopher Greene to GW, 14 Oct. 1780).

6See GW’s first letter to Benedict Arnold, 2 Sept., n.2.

The British had raided Horseneck, Conn. (see Israel Putnam to GW, 2 March 1779, and notes 4–6 to that document).

7These troops would enter Continental service only in the event of an attack against New York City (see Samuel Holden Parsons to Trumbull, 9 Aug. 1780, in Hall, Life and Letters of General Parsons description begins Charles S. Hall. Life and Letters of Samuel Holden Parsons: Major General in the Continental Army and Chief Judge of the Northwestern Territory, 1737-1789. Binghamton, N.Y., 1905. description ends , 299–300, and Parsons to GW, 4 Sept.).

8Committees from Connecticut, Massachusetts, and New Hampshire endorsed this recommendation at a convention in Boston on 3 Aug. (see Trumbull Papers description begins The Trumbull Papers. 4 vols. Boston, 1885-1902. In Collections of the Massachusetts Historical Society, 5th ser., vols. 9–10; 7th ser., vols. 2–3. description ends , 3:85–93; see also George Clinton to GW, 1 Sept., n.6).

9Maj. Gen. Nathanael Greene wrote GW from camp at Teaneck, N.J., on 28 Aug.: “If your Excellency thinks that the intelligence which you have lately receivd from Europe is of such a nature as to warrant any alteration in the preparations for the great plan of operations for the campaign; it would be a great saving to the public and a great relief to the Army, to give order immediately to discontinue the purchasing of horses and stop the teams from coming to Camp orderd from the different States to serve with the Army. Nothing tends to distress the service more than to have at Camp a greater number of Cattle than is absolutely requisite. If the whole comes forward that have been requird of the different States, the number will greatly exceed the demands of the service; especially if the first plan of operations is relinquished.

“Your Excellency will please to give such direction in the matter as you may think necessary to promote the common good” (ALS, DLC:GW; see also GW to James Bowdoin, 28 Aug.).

10Connecticut delegate Roger Sherman wrote Trumbull on 22 July that Congress had approved a new system for the quartermaster general’s department that “will be a means of Saving considerable expence if duly executed, tho’ not So much as could be wished” (Smith, Letters of Delegates description begins Paul H. Smith et al., eds. Letters of Delegates to Congress, 1774–1789. 26 vols. Washington, D.C., 1976–2000. description ends , 15:489–91; see also GW to Nathanael Greene, 26 July, n.1).

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