George Washington Papers

From George Washington to George Clinton, 10 December 1780

To George Clinton

⟨Head Quarters New Windsor Decr 10th 1780⟩

⟨Dear⟩ Sir

I have the hon⟨or to inclose⟩ to Your Excellency a Letter this mo⟨ment received⟩ from Mr Stevens Commissy of Issu⟨es at Fish⟩ Kill; I must submit to you the prop⟨riety⟩ of suffering this flour to be exported, ⟨or the⟩ necessity of detaining it, under the present circumstances of the Army.1

It is with the utmost regret, I am compelled to represent to you, the distressed situation of the Troops on this River for want of bread, and the disagreable prospects before us. The Army has been served for several days past, with but a small pittance of their Rations, there is no flour in the Magazines, and I cannot learn from whence the next supply is to be derived.2 Under these circumstances it is impossible for me to be responsible for the important Posts on this River, or even to assure myself the Troops can be kept together from one day to another.

I have therefore to entreat Your Excellency ⟨that the most vigorous & effectual measures may be⟩ instantly adopted for pro⟨curing rel⟩ief. I will not presume to re⟨comm⟩end the mode, but only to observe, ⟨that⟩ unless some spirited exertions, or coercive ⟨m⟩eans, are immediately made use of, for obtaining a supply; I can see nothing but ruin stare us in the face.3 I have the honor to be With the most perfect respect & esteem Your Excellency’s Most Obedt Hble Servt

Go: Washington

LS (partially burned), in David Humphreys’s writing, N-Ar: Clinton Papers; Df, DLC:GW; Varick transcript, DLC:GW. Burned portions of the LS are supplied in angle brackets from the draft, which Humphreys also penned.

1The enclosure was Nathaniel Stevens, deputy commissary general of issues, to GW written at Fishkill, N.Y., on 9 Dec.: “⟨Mr Jesse Wilson informs me there is⟩ about eight Tunns of flo⟨ur in Mr Joshua [Carman, Jr.’s]⟩ Mill, about twelve miles East of ⟨this place, and that⟩ he heard a certain Thomas Williams, ⟨a trader and⟩ refugee from Long Island, agree for ⟨twenty teams,⟩ that have lately been discharged, to carry ⟨the same⟩ to Derby, in Connecticut, where Williams ⟨says it is⟩ to be put on Board for the Purpose of tr⟨ansport⟩ing to Road Island, the teams go from this place at twelve oclock to day.

“I believe Mr Wilson to be a man that can be depended upon, and if the flour can be obtai⟨ned,⟩ for the armys use, it certainly will be relieving us in a distressing time” (ALS [partially burned], N: George Clinton Papers; burned material is supplied in angle brackets from 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 , 6:485–86).

Thomas Williams may have been the man who fled from Huntington, N.Y., to Stonington, Conn., and served on the privateer Oliver Cromwell (see Mather, Refugees of 1776 description begins Frederic Gregory Mather. The Refugees of 1776 from Long Island to Connecticut. Albany, 1913. description ends , pp. 218, 638).

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