George Washington Papers

From George Washington to William Denning, 2 November 1780

To William Denning

Head Quarters Prekaness 2nd Novemr 1780


I was a few days ago favored with yours of the 24th ulto.1 I have not the least doubt but there is too general an inattention to the care of Stores at most of our Magazines and distant posts, but it is much to be regretted that the2 Deputies residing at those places have so many plausible pretences for throwing the ill condition of what are found in their possession, upon those from whom they received them In the Article of Flour, particularly, which is most subject to waste, the fault in a great measure originates with the Miller, who is shamefully careless of the make and security of the Casks. The notice however which you have taken of what came under your own inspection, will I hope be attended with good effects, as it will put the head of the department upon making inquiry into the apparent causes of neglect, when you saw the provision, and giving direction for more care in future.

Colo. Stewart has always appeared to me to be active and diligent in the prosecution of his business, but it is probable that there may be want of conduct in some of his ⟨D⟩eputies. I can myself, in some measure, account for the condition of the Stores at Hackets and Pitts town when you saw them. They had just then been removed in the greatest hurry from Morris Town, to avoid the destruction with which they were threatened by the move of the Enemy into Jersey.3 What the Deputy told you of the impossibility of procuring Guards to secure and assist in storing the provision was absolutely true. Our strength has scarcely ever allowed of making the necessary detachments for the safety of our Magazines, but just at the time to which you refer, our whole collected force in Jersey did not amoun⟨t⟩ to one half of that of the Enemy.

I shall take occasion to mention the substance of your information to Colo. Stewart, and shall desire him to have matters put under better regulations in future. I shall at the same time let him know, that what you have done is not with an intent of criminating him, but from what you very properly conceive to be the duty of every good Citizen—to represent to the proper authority what he sees amiss in public affairs.4 I am with great Respect Sir Your most obt Servt

Go: Washington

LS, in Tench Tilghman’s writing, NNebgGW; Df, DLC:GW; Varick transcript, DLC:GW.

2GW’s aide-de-camp Tench Tilghman, who prepared the draft, initially wrote and struck out at this point: “want of means of procuring the necessary hands to assist in.” He then inserted “deputies” above the line.

4GW refers to Charles Stewart, commissary general of issues, but see James A. Stewart to GW, 3 December.

Index Entries