George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Otis & Henley, 25 October 1780

From Otis & Henley

Boston 25th Octr 1780


This acknowledges the rect of your Excellencys favor 4th Octr;1 And in forwarding the Clothing in our possession be assured Sir, we shall not be wanting in our exertions, but Congress must necessarily interpose for the fullfillment of our Contract or the public utility it has promised, and which for several months we have been at infinite pains to demonstrate, will be frustrated.2

Colo. Wigglesworth is now soliciting Congress & in the mean time inclosed is a return of what is packed & ready to go forward, whenever the D. Quar. Master or the Executive of the State can furnish us with means of conveyance.3

Preparation is makeing of the materials in our possession, The quantity however it is out of our power to ascertain before Colo. Wiggles-worths return, but if the whole is retained the supply will be very inadequate except of Blankets of which should suppose five or six thousand may be compleated.

Shall observe your Excellencys direction relative to the Rout of the Waggons, & attention to the Casks—And will again do ourselves the honor of addressing yr Excellency upon the Subject when Colo. Wiggles-wo[r]th returns.4

Permit us to add there are large quantities of prize goods in the State could means be devised to procure them, & they will perhaps not be cheaper.5 We have the Honor to be Your Excellencys Most obedient & very Humble Serts

Otis & Henley


1GW had written Otis & Henley from headquarters at Orangetown on 4 Oct.: “I would fain hope that part if not the whole of the Baize, purchased with intent of having it milled and cut into Blankets, may be by this time ready for use—The season calls for them, and I very much fear, that the troops in the feild and the sick in Hospitals will be exceedingly distressed for want of them, before they can possibly be got to hand. I however trust, that no means will be left untried to get them forwarded as they are ready. If you find any difficulty in the Quarter Masters department, be pleased to apply to the State for Assistance, and represent to them the pressing necessity which the Army labors under for Blankets—If three or four thousand could be hurried on speedily—they would perhaps supply the wants of the most needy, and make the delay of the remainder more tolerable—I do not know whether you have any, or what stock of other winter Cloathing: But whatever you may have should be forwarded without loss of time. Woolen Overalls and Stockings in preference to other Articles. If the whole could be packed in tight Casks or well jointed Cases, it would probably prevent the damage which may be occasioned by the goods being exposed to the Weather during the transportation. I shall be glad to know what forwardness the Blankets are in, and what quantities and kinds of other articles you have on hand. … P.S. Be pleased to forward the Goods to New Windsor by way of Litchfeild” (Df, in Tench Tilghman’s writing, DLC:GW; copy, M-Ar; Varick transcript, DLC:GW; 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 , 18:845–46).

2For this contract, see 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 , 10:90–91.

3The enclosed “Return of Sundry Articles of Cloathing in Store of Otis & Henley,” dated 26 Oct., lists 3,493 pairs of woolen overalls; 4,867 pairs of socks; 3,055 vests; 985 shirts; 597 pairs of leather breeches; 229 pairs of mittens; 265 watch coats; 2,376 pairs of hose; 2,215 blankets; 132 pairs of linen breeches; 8 coats; 20 hunting shirts; and 20 pairs of oznabrig overalls, with “Errors Excepted” for each category (DLC:GW; see James Wilkinson to GW, 17 Oct., and notes 1 and 2 to that document).

4Otis & Henley next wrote GW from Boston on 8 Nov.: “We did ourselves the honor of addressing Your Excellency 25th Ulto, since when have obtained the interposition of our Governmt, in forwarding about forty Waggons with blanketts overals &c., agreeably to return then exhibited.

“We shall lose no time in forwarding ⟨ot⟩her quantities altho tis impossible to ascertain how great, with precision, being so dependant upon contingencies—Of Blankets overalls & Vests presume there will be an ample supply, But have materials at most for only two thousand Coats.

“Permit us to observe there are Eighty Waggon load of Clothing at Springfield, which has remained over the Summer for Transportation—In vain do we exert, if there can be no energy given to the Quartermasters department.

“Nothing will give us greater pleasure than being able to answer expectation (L, DLC:GW; “Post” is written on the cover).

GW replied to Otis & Henley from Passaic Falls on 19 Nov.: “I have recd your favors of the 25th ulto and 8th instant. I am glad to hear that part of the Goods mentioned in the former had been sent off, and I hope the Teams procured by the State will proceed at least as far as Springfeild. I shall give particular directions to the Quarter Master General to have them brought forward from thence as well as those which have been laying there some time past—I beg you will immediately forward what Cloth remains upon hand to the Army with a proper quantity of thread—Buttons—and other trimmings to make it up—it will not only be done quicker by the different Regimental Taylors, but it may be made into the different Articles of Cloathing just as they are wanting. Shirts you will have made in Boston—I most sincerely wish that the business which Colo. Wigglesworth is upon may be compleated properly, as I cannot find that we can depend with any degree of certainty upon any other Cloathing this Winter, than what is included in your contract with the Tracey’s” (Df, in Tench Tilghman’s writing, DLC:GW; Varick transcript, DLC:GW; Tilghman wrote “⅌ majr [William] Blodget” on the docket). The contract presumably involved prominent merchant Nathaniel Tracy.

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