George Washington Papers

To George Washington from George Clinton, 15 December 1780

From George Clinton

Poughkeepsie [N.Y.] Decr 15th 1780

Dear Sir:

Immediately on the Receipt of your Excellency’s Letter of the 10th Instant stating the Distresses of the Army for want of Bread I issued my impress Warrant to Colo. Hay for upwards of four thousand Barrels of Flour.1 I am not yet informed what his Success has been: but to induce the Proprietors to part with it with less reluctance and thereby render the Measure more effectual I have authorized him to engage to replace it in kind or to pay the current Price for it in a short Period. The former Engagement I do not believe we shall be able to perform consistent with the Safety of the Army & our complying with the latter will depend on the purchasing Officers being furnished with Money by Congress as our Treasury is entirely exhausted. I must therefore entreat your Excellency’s Interposition so that if it is possible the purchasing Officers may be enabled to fulfil my Engagements as it will greatly assist our Exertions which it may be necessary to make on any future emergency. Indeed if the Agent could by any Means have a small Supply of Cash it would enable him to relieve us as far as the Resourses of the State woud extend from our present Embarrassments.2

I am informed that the Troops of our State are become so utterly destitute of Clothing as not only to be unfit for Duty but that many of them must greatly suffer as the cold Season advances—I explained to your Excellency the Hopes I had of providing for them and every possible Exertion will be made to effect it.3 If in the mean time they could obtain some small Relief from the public Store it would not only render those now in the Service contented but promote the recruiting Service. I am informed there are some Suits at New Burgh of the Uniform of our Regiments4 and I am encouraged by the above Motives to request your Excellency’s Order for these in their favor: if it can consistent with Justice to the other Troops be granted.5 I have the honor to be with great Respect & Esteem Your Excellency’s most Obedt Servant

Geo: Clinton

LS, DLC:GW; copy (extract), enclosed with GW to Samuel Huntington, 22 Dec., DNA:PCC, item 152; copy (extract), DNA:PCC, item 169. The extracts contain the first paragraph of the LS.

2See GW to Udny Hay, 22 Dec., found at Hay to GW, 17 Dec., n.4, and Hay to GW, 29 Dec., and notes 2 and 3; see also William Heath to GW, this date, n.4.

3Clinton recently had visited GW (see GW’s first letter to Clinton, 10 Dec., source note).

4The uniforms for New York regiments were to be blue cloth faced with buff, with white linings and buttons (see General Orders, 2 Oct. 1779).

5GW replied to Clinton from headquarters at New Windsor on 22 Dec. 1780: “Your Excellency’s favor of the 15th did not reach me ’till this morning. I immediately dispatched an extract from it to Congress, and very warmly recommended to them the necessity of supporting Colo. Hay, in the performance of his Contracts. I most sincerely hope we may find him successful in the impress, for I see no dependance upon any other quarter.

“I had, two days ago, directed a very liberal allowance of all kind of Cloathing (except Coats of which he got about 200 very good) to be delivered to your State Cloathier, for the four Regiments near Albany. Weissenfeldts had a compleat supply previous to going to Fort schuyler. We shall fall very short of the necessary quantity of Coats—few of the troops have had any delivered to them this season. We expect about two thousand from Boston, and unless we should have an arrival from France that will be our whole stock” (LS [facsimile], in Tench Tilghman’s writing, Swann Auction Galleries sale 2276, April 2012, lot 372; Df, DLC:GW; Varick transcript, DLC:GW; see also the source note above, and James Wilkinson to GW, 7 Nov., and n.2 to that document).

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