George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Colonel William Malcom, 18 November 1780

From Colonel William Malcom

Wall Kill [N.Y.] Novr 18th 1780


I am Honord with your Excellencys Letter of the 12th Inst.1 Altho’ part of the State Troops which were under my Command, have to Serve untill about the Middle of next Month General Clinton give me permission to come down on some bussiness of my own & also to expedite Supply, especially of Beeff for the department—which Co. Hay informs me will very soon be done2—I shall return next week to have the Troops Musterd & Regularly dismissd.

Being of Opinion that you have a very considerable dependence on the armoury at Albany, I took some pains to Know the State of it, and, think it my duty to Recomd that the Commanding Officer there be instructed to inspect it Occasionally—And to See that every thing is furnished to carry it on—Shepherd the Manager (although of a doubtfull Political Character) Appears to be a very Honest & most certainly a Capable man—And I am well convinced if properly Supported could furnish & repair the Necessary Quantity of arms, At present he is destitute of either Men Money or Material—If I judge right that your Excellency depends upon it—No doubt but you will give orders on the subject—if I am mistaken, a very considerable expence is thrown away. At present Mr Shepherd has every thing in very compleat order, & only wants to be properly Supported to do great things in this Material branch.3

A letter to General Clinton and a standing order to the Qr Master General at Albany to furnish Materials, is immediately Necessary.4

Although the damage done by the Enemy on the Frontiers is very considerable Yet from an Estimate which I have got made it is not so very great as was at first imagined.5 I have the Honor to be with the greatest respect Your Excellencys Most Obd. & very Hbl. servt

W. Malcom

ALS, DLC:GW. The cover is addressed to GW at Passaic Falls, and a notation reads: “by favor of Major [Francis] Barber.”

2The outlook for provisions remained dismal (see Udny Hay to GW, 23 Nov.; see also James Clinton to GW, 19 Nov., and William Heath to GW, 22 Nov.).

3Malcom apparently enclosed a letter to him from William Shepherd written at Albany on 9 Nov.: “I have for four years past had the Direction of the Armourers at this place, and have the Happiness to believe that the Works have been Manag’d to general Advantage and Satisfaction. But I am, at present, so embarass’d On many Accts, that unless Some immediate Attention is paid to this Usefull branch, I am persuaded, that the Works must Soon Cease—The men have got no Money for a Considerable time past, very often no Provision, or Rum. and Such as are Citizens are call’d out on every Idle Alarm, Notwithstanding the damage which the Public Suffers thereby.

“We also, want a Number of Articles for the Business, which I do not See any means of procuring, nor any endeavour for the purpose. The Building where we work and keep our Stores, is in so unfinish’d and incomplete a Condition, that the men will be idle on that Account for the Winter, even if every other Difficulty were remov’d. As I am very Anxious to carry on this Usefull Branch to the greatest advantage to the Country, and for my Own Credit also, I beg that You will report our Situation to the Comr in Chief and Genl Knox, and by that means, I hope, we will be put on a proper establishment” (DLC:GW).

William Shepherd eventually was caught corresponding with the British (see the entry for 1 June 1781 in Diaries description begins Donald Jackson and Dorothy Twohig, eds. The Diaries of George Washington. 6 vols. Charlottesville, Va., 1976–79. description ends ,3:376; see also George Clinton to Henry Dodge, 11 April 1781, in Hastings and Holden, Clinton Papers description begins Hugh Hastings and J. A. Holden, eds. Public Papers of George Clinton, First Governor of New York, 1777–1795, 1801–1804. 10 vols. 1899–1914. Reprint. New York, 1973. description ends , 6:761–62). Shepherd apparently departed Albany in 1782 because of his adherence “to the enemies of the people of his State” (New-York Gazetteer, or Northern Intelligencer [Albany], 2 Sept. 1782).

5For recent British raids along the New York frontier, see George Clinton to GW, 18 and 30 Oct.; see also Malcom to GW, 12 Oct., n.4.

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