George Washington Papers

Circular to State Executives, 10 December 1780

Circular to State Executives

Head Quarters New Windsor Decr 10th 1780


Your Excellency1 will, I presume, have received before this reaches you, an Act of Congress of the 4th of last Month, calling on the several States for specific quantities of fresh and salt Provisions—Flour, Salt, and Rum, for the Army, and directing all of the above articles except the fresh Meat, to be collected, and deposited at such places in each of the States, as should be judg’d most convenient by me.2 This communication I should have done myself the honor of making somewhat earlier, had not the greater part of my time, since the receipt of the Act, been taken up in arranging and3 visiting the Hospitals and Winter Cantonments of the Army.4

Upon considering the point with respect to the supplies required of your State, I beg leave to inform Your Excellency,5 that it appears to me,6 they should be deposited at the following places7 and proportions.8 The salt provisions and Salt to be delivered at or near Bulls Iron Works, and Hartford in equal proportions. The 1st 2nd and 3d deliveries of Rum at or near Bulls Iron Works the last at Hartford.9

The Commissary General, as he is directed, will inform you from time to time, of the Quantities of live Cattle, which will be necessary, and where they are to be delivered.10 I have the honor to be With great respect & esteem Your Excellencys Most Obed. Hble Servt

Go: Washington

LS, in David Humphreys’s writing, addressed to Connecticut governor Jonathan Trumbull, Sr., Ct: Trumbull Papers; LS, in Tench Tilghman’s writing, addressed to Rhode Island governor William Greene, R-Ar; LS, in Tilghman’s writing, addressed to Maryland governor Thomas Sim Lee, MdAA: Brown Books; LS, in Tilghman’s writing, addressed to New Jersey governor William Livingston, NN: William Livingston Papers; LS, in Humphreys’s writing, addressed to Delaware governor Caesar Rodney, Remember When Auction catalog #44, offered for sale 18 July 1998; LS, in Tilghman’s writing, addressed to New Hampshire council president Meshech Weare, Nh-Ar: Weare Papers; Df, DLC:GW; Varick transcript, DLC:GW.

According to a notation on the draft, this circular letter also was sent to New York governor George Clinton; Massachusetts governor John Hancock (enclosed with GW to Benjamin Lincoln, 11 Dec.); and Joseph Reed, president of the Pennsylvania Supreme Executive Council. These letters have not been found.

The Pennsylvania Supreme Executive Council read the letter addressed to Reed on 18 Dec. and sent it to the state’s general assembly on the same date with a message that in part reads: “The magazines at the different posts are nearly exhausted, and we are utterly unprovided with the means of making new purchases. The consequences to the good people of the State, as well as to the general cause, are too obvious to need enumeration or observation” (Pa. Col. Records description begins Colonial Records of Pennsylvania. 16 vols. Harrisburg, 1840–53. description ends , 12:574–75).

The LS addressed to Lee has a postscript which reads: “I have recd information that another embark⟨ation is⟩ preparing at New York—of about 2500 Men, under the Command of Generals Knyphausen and Phillips. supposed bound to the southward—My information does not come thru’ a Channel on which I perfectly depend” (see Anthony Wayne to GW, this date, and n.2 to that document). Writing for the Maryland Council, Lee replied to GW from Annapolis on 23 Dec.: “Yesterday We had the honor of receiving Your Excellency’s favor of the 10th Inst.

“The instructions you were pleased to give relative to depositing the Supplies required of this State, shall be strictly attended to” (ALS, DLC:GW; LB, MdAA: Council Letter Book, 1780–1787).

For other replies or pertinent comments, see Reed to GW, 19 Dec.; Hancock to GW, 22 Dec.; and Livingston to GW, 28 Dec.; see also Greene to GW, 8 December. No replies have been found from Clinton, Rodney, and Weare. No reply from Trumbull to GW has been found, but he docketed the LS addressed to him: “recd 17th inst P.M.”

GW also wrote Virginia governor Thomas Jefferson from headquarters at New Windsor on 10 Dec.: “The specific supplies required of your State, by the Act of Congress of the 4th of last Month, being all allotted to the use of the southern Army, I must beg leave to refer your Excellency to Major General Greene or Officer commanding in that department for the places of deposit. These, by the Resolve, are left to my determination, but as the commanding Officer to the southward will be so much better enabled to judge of the proper places, from circumstances, I hope your Excellency will think I am justifiable in referring the matter to him (LS, in Tench Tilghman’s writing, Vi; Df, also addressed to North Carolina governor Abner Nash, DLC:GW; Varick transcript, DLC:GW; GW signed the cover of the LS, which is docketed “recd Jany 81”). The letter to Nash has not been found, but see GW to Nash, 23 Jan. 1781 (DLC:GW).

1The LS addressed to Weare has “You” instead of the previous two words.

2For this congressional resolution adopted on 4 Nov., see Samuel Huntington to GW, 12 Nov., and n.1 to that document.

3The previous two words do not appear on the LS addressed to Weare.

5The LS addressed to Weare has “You” instead of the previous two words.

6In place of the remainder of this paragraph, the LS addressed to Greene reads: “that the whole, the fresh Meat excepted, may be delivered at Providence”; and the LS addressed to Rodney reads: “that the whole of the Salt, salt Meat, Flour, and Rum should be deposited at Christiana Bridge.”

7In place of the remainder of this paragraph, the LS addressed to Livingston reads: “vizt. The whole of the Salt—Salt Meat and Flour at Morris Town—Pitts Town—Sussex Court House and Ringwood, in such proportions at each as may suit the State.”

8In place of the remainder of this paragraph, the LS addressed to Lee reads: “⅓ of the Salt—salt Meat—Flour and Rum at the Head of Elk—The remaining ⅔ds which are intended for the southern Army at Baltimore and George Town in such porportions as may suit the State”; and the LS addressed to Weare reads: “1st 2d and 3d deposits of Rum to be at Charles town No. 4. The last deposit to remain at Portsmouth for further orders. The Salt Meat to be deposited at Portsmouth and Charles town No. 4—in the following proportions. all on the East side of Merimack River to be carried to Portsmouth, and all on the West side to Charles town No. 4.”

A document in Tilghman’s writing, titled “Places of Deposit for the Specific Articles demanded of the States by the Resolve of Congress of the 4th Novemr 1780,” presumably intended as part of the draft, which Tilghman also penned, gives the types of provisions and places of deposit for each state. For Massachusetts, it reads: “To deposit their Salt provision and Salt at Springfield and Great Barrington in equal proportions, except the last delivery of Salt which may wait the Commissary’s order at Boston. The 1st 2d and 3d delivery of Rum, two thirds at Great Barrington—one third at Springfield—The last delivery of this Article to remain at Boston for further orders.”

For New York, it reads: “700 Barrels of Flour [and] 350 [Barrels] Beef or pork [at] Fort Schuyler. The remainder of the Salt Meat and Flour at West Point, Fishkill—New Windsor and Albany.”

For Pennsylvania, it reads: “Fort Pitt 2400 Bbls Flour. 1000 Bbls Salt Meat or salt equivalent to put up that quantity upon the spot 7000 Gallons Spirits. Carlisle 800 Barrels Flour 3000 Gallons Spirits 250 Bbls salt Meat or salt equivalent to put up that quantity on the spot[.] Wyoming. 200 Bbls Flour 1000 Gallons Spirits 100 Bushels Salt[.] Lancaster 1000 Barrels Flour 3000 Gallons Spirits 500 Bushels of Salt[.] Easton. 10,000 Barrels Flour[.] Philada All the remainder of Salt—salt Meat—Flour and Rum” (DLC:GW).

9Located about forty-five miles west of Hartford, Jacob Bull’s ironworks were near a bridge over the Housatonic River in Connecticut just east of the border with New York.

10This sentence does not appear on the LS addressed to Lee or the LS addressed to Rodney.

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