George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Ephraim Blaine, 12 September 1780

From Ephraim Blaine

Philada 12th Septemr 1780

Please Your Excellency

I have laid the wants of your Army before Congress and pointed out the uncertainty of State Supplies and assured them without the most peremptory demand upon the States for a speedy and full compliance with their requistion,1 & the most vigourous Exertions of the States in executing the Army cannot be fed, and from the repeated want of Supplies I had not the least hope of being able to lay up one Barrel of Salt Provisions—they have appointed a Committee of six Members to confer with me upon ways and means to remove the present wants and guard against future—the Members are Genl Sullivan, Mr Samuel Adams, General Cornel, Genl Scott Colonel Bland and Mr Jones, they shew a disposition of doing every thing in their power to feed the Army2—I have inform’d them, it was Your Excellencies Orders to me (exclusive of the prest Supplies of the Army) to make immediate preperations for laying up Magazines of twelve thousand Barrels of Salt Beef and sixteen thousand barrels of Flour—the places of deposit, Albany, Clavarack, Newborrough, Pitts Town, Easton & Philadelphia, and to use every possible Exertion to have this Business executed before the severity of the Winter sets in, in Order to prevent the distresses your Army experienced last Winter and Spring for want of Provisions—to shew them the necessity for adopting immediate measures to enable me to comply with your Order I have laid before them an Estimate of the Expence of transportg the Salt to the places of deposit, making of Barrels & the number of Cattle necessary to comply with your Excellencies Requisition.3

The Governor & Council of this State have assured me they will for three months from this date, deliver weekly into the public Magazines, twelve hundred Barrels of Flour, this with what Assistance I shall get from the neighbouring States will afford you a regular Supply of Flour.

I started from this place yesterday seventy head of Public Cattle—eighty more will move tomorrow and I have made Application to the Governour & Council, to assist me in procuring five hundred Head from the Meadows below this City—if I am successfull they will start in four days from this.4

Mr Dunham Agent for Jersey has assured me the Contractor of Monmouth County has purchased one hundred Cattle, exclusive of those which General Furman took from the Inhabitants5—Sixty head purchased by the Commissioner in Salem County and Sixty in Cumberland County which were all order’d to Camp.

Your Excellency may rest assured of my utmost endeavours to keep up a regular Supply—but the present mode of purchasing without Money, and no immediate hopes of any gives me great uneasiness. I have the Honor to be with the greatest respect Your Excellencies Most Obedient & Most Hble Servt

Eph. Blaine C.G.P.

LS, DLC:GW; DfS, DLC: Ephraim Blaine Letterbook. Blaine wrote “favour’d by Col. Pickering” on the cover of the LS.

GW’s aide-de-camp Tench Tilghman replied to Blaine from Orangetown on 24 Sept.: “I received your favr of the 13th and that of the 12th to His Excellency, who set out this day Week for Har[t]ford—We have been tolerably well supplied with Meat since you left us, and have now seven or eight days before hand. If you meet with success below and Connecticut complies more regularly with her requisition we may go on from hand to mouth: But I fear we shall be in want of Flour again, except a spur is given to Pennsylvania and Maryland—We had yesterday by Colo. Stewarts estimate no more than six days supply at this Magazine and at Morris town, and by a letter from Mr Furman to Colo. Stewart, a few days ago, not a Barrel at Trenton either public or Bank—Thus you see we must be relieved from below, or be reduced to the necessity of draw[in]g again from West point, which is injurious on every account—His Excellency, while at Har[t]ford, will not only endeavour to get the supply of meat from Connecticut put upon a more certain and regular footing, but will try to have the Rum at Springfield, of which [we] are in the greatest want, brought forward. The enemy are making preparations for some very uncommon move from New York—A Magazine of Bread is upon that account essentially necessary and immediately, as their move may occasion ours over the North River. should that be the case I think we shall be ready to open the Ferry at Dobbs’s—The works there are nearly compleated” (DLC:GW; see also Pa. Col. Records description begins Colonial Records of Pennsylvania. 16 vols. Harrisburg, 1840–53. description ends , 12:474).

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

2Blaine wrote Samuel Huntington, president of Congress, from Philadelphia on 15 Sept.: “The distresses of the Army has been the Occasion of my coming to Town at this time. … None of the states have near complied with the requisition of the Honorable Congress—those failures causes a scarcity of Provisions which gives his Excellency General Washington the greatest uneasiness, by having hourly complaints from the Inhabitants in the Neighbourhood of his Army, who are plundered of every necessary of life by a starving Soldiery” (DNA:PCC, item 165). Congress read Blaine’s letter on 16 Sept. and referred it “to the committee on the letter, of 20 August, from General Washington, and that the committee confer with the honorable the Minister of France on the subjects” (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 , 18:831; see also GW to Huntington, 20 Aug., and the source note to that document).

4Congress resolved to purchase these cattle on 15 Sept. (see Huntington to GW, 16 Sept., n.2; see also 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 , 18:826).

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