George Washington Papers

From George Washington to Captain Daniel Niven, 12 December 1780

To Captain Daniel Niven

Head Quarters New Windsor 12th Decemr 1780


The Logs which supported the Chain at West point are so water soaken that they will not do to lay down another summer1—You will therefore proceed with a party in search of the proper Timber to make new Floats, and wherever you find it cut it down. The Qr Mr General will have directions to find the means of transporting it to the Water.2 I am Sir Yr most obt Servt

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

1For the most recent removal of the defensive chain across the Hudson River near West Point, see William Heath’s second letter to GW, 15 Nov., and n.3.

2Niven replied to GW from “Hostertown,” apparently near Newburgh, N.Y., on 7 Feb. 1781: “When I receiv’d Your Excelencys orders. have proceeded immediatly with a party in search of proper timber to make new rafts for the Chain at west point.

“Have cut down the number wanting of Large Logs. back of newbrought. within five miles of the river.

“Then made application to the Quarter Master General concerning teams to haull the said timber to the river. a Copy of his answer I did myself the honor to inclose—All that are haulled to the river of said timber. is about one fifteenth parts.

“It will be very Late in the seasson before the rafts are ready to be put in the water. Unless the timber are transported to the river without a moments Loss of time” (ALS, DLC:GW). The enclosure was a letter from Q.M. Gen. Timothy Pickering to Niven written at Newburgh on 21 Jan. to explain that he needed to wait “a fortnight” for “fresh ox teams.” Snowfall during that period would allow the logs to “be halled with half the labour they would now cost us. I will desire Colo. Hughes, if he had them not already. to provide the pitch. tar & oakum you mention to be wanting for the rafts” (DLC:GW).

Niven again wrote GW from near Newburgh on 25 Feb. 1781: “Eighteen Carpenters and eight fatugee men are employed at present on the works—six Carpenters and twelve fatugee men (Besides those already imployd) are wanted to compleate the rafts in proper season.

“If these men wanted will be sent soon. And the Quarter Master General provides the several articles wanted to compleate the rafts. (acording to a requist made) The Chain will be ready to be put cross the river in good season” (ALS, DLC:GW; see also GW to Heath, 27 Feb. 1781, MHi: Heath Papers). The chain went back across the river in the early spring (see General Orders, 30 March 1781, and Heath to GW, 11 and 12 April 1781, both DLC:GW).

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