George Washington Papers

To George Washington from James Wilkinson, 7 November 1780

From James Wilkinson

Perackeness Novr 7th 1780


I have the honor to inclose your Excellency an exact report of the Clothing in my Possession & in the Hands of the Agent Clothiers, to whom I have wrote intreating their exertions to push forward the several Articles in their Hands to New Burgh, & I have directed them to represent the exeigency to their respective executive Powers & require the Transport necessary for the occasion1—Genl Heath has promised me to Interest himself to get on the Clothing in the Hands of Otis & Henly2—As it is probable every Continental purchase which can be made in Philadelphia as well as the Articles now on Hand there will go to the Southward we must not calculate on any assistance from that Quarter. I have not been able to obtain any information from either of the Sub Clothiers, but the Massachusetts & New Hampshire and at my request Major Genl Heath has been pleased to direct them to cease further Issues until the general distribution is directed,3 before which time I flatter myself I shall be able, with the pointed representations of Genl St Clair & Wayne, to induce the Legislature of Pensylvania to adopt immediate Measures for supplying their Line.4 When your Excellency orders the general distribution to commence, I beg that it may be directed on Acct of the Year 81, which will answer the valuable purposes of Method & regularity and enable me to settle & close the Accts of my department for the present Year. And I have the honor to be with the highest respect Your Excellencys Obliged, Obedient And Most Hble Servant

J. Wilkinson Clo. General


1Wilkinson’s letter is docketed as including a “Genl return of Clothing on Hand,” but that return has not been identified.

2See Wilkinson to GW, 17 Oct., and n.2.

Otis & Henley wrote GW from Boston on 6 Dec.: “We receivd your Excellencys Letter, the 19 Novemr, and hope the Clothing deliverd from our Store, has by this time arrivd at Camp, as measures were taken to forward it as early as possible.

“The Cloth remaining, we have already deliverd into the Taylors hands, greater part of which is cut out, sorted, and distributed in such manner, as to make it yeld to most advantage. Before we could collect and forward it, the whole may be made up, good part of which is returnd from ⟨the⟩ Tailors hands, finished and now packing ⟨in⟩ Twenty Waggon loads, or sixty Hogsheads, Sho⟨uld⟩ forward beginning next Week to the Army, the remainder as soon as possible.

“As we suppose Mr Otis stopt at Head Quarters, on his way to Philadelphia, so a particular account of the State of the Clothing in our department, he has no doubt given your Excellency, and expected a line from him ⅌ Post after consulting you, the Mail taken, we conjecture leaves us without his particular advise. Your Excellency may depend on every exertion from, those that hope to meet your approbation” (L, DLC:GW; “⅌ post” is written on the cover; see also GW to Otis & Henley, 19 Nov., found at Otis & Henley to GW, 25 Oct., n.4).

3See William Heath’s first letter to GW on this date, and n.4 to that document.

David Brooks, deputy clothier general, had written Maj. Gen. William Heath’s aide-de-camp Thomas Cartwright from Newburgh, N.Y., on 31 Oct. to enclose “for the General’s perusal, an accurate Return of the Clothing in Store” (MHi: Heath Papers). Among the items listed in “A Return of Clothing in Store at Newburgh, Octr 31st 1780” were 1,248 “Coats, blue faced white”; 3,802 “Vests of which about 1400 are white the rest Various”; 649 “Breeches, chiefly white”; 2,819 “Shirts Linnen & oznaberg”; and 309 “Hose, coarse thread, fit only for Soldiers.” Also listed were 7,968 shoes; 2,183 hats; 10,192 “Linnen & Canvas Overalls”; 2,918 “Woolen Mitts”; 7,444 “Pairs of Socks, chiefly Baize”; 1,059 “Drilling Breeches, Coarse”; and 2,663 hunting shirts (MHi: Heath Papers).

4Brig. Gen. Anthony Wayne had written Joseph Reed, president of the Pennsylvania Supreme Executive Council, from camp at Totowa on 17 and 25 Oct. regarding the clothing needs of his command (see Pa. Archives description begins Samuel Hazard et al., eds. Pennsylvania Archives. 9 ser., 138 vols. Philadelphia and Harrisburg, 1852–1949. description ends , 1st ser., 8:587–88, 593).

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