George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Lieutenant Colonel Udny Hay, 17 December 1780

From Lieutenant Colonel Udny Hay

Poughkeepsie [N.Y.] 17th Decr 1780


At the earnest desire of the ship Carpenters &c., who have been employed for a long time past at Wappons Creek,1 particularly such of them as have large Families to support, I am induced to assure your Excellency that their general Conduct in the different stations in which they served, while under my Direction, and the excessive Distress to which they are drove by not receiving but a very small proportion of the Money they have duly earned, justly merits the Public Attention, and demands if possible an Immediate Remedy against those Calamities which threaten an absolute ruin to themselves & Families, if not Timeously prevented.2

Your Excellency will be the easier Induced to forgive this Trouble, on being informed that it was in a great Measure owing to my Intreaties (knowing the Service must suffer excessively without their assistance) that they were prevailed on to remain in this State, at a time when many advantageous Offers were made them both from the Eastward & Westward. One or Two of them will take the Liberty of waiting on your Excellency to give a more particular detail of their present Circumstances & future prospects, to which I beg leave to refer, and am with the Utmost Respect Your Excellencies Most Obedt & Very Humble Servant,

Udny Hay

P.S. Be pleased to Inform me if it is possible to obtain any Casks from the Fort3 for the purpose of Salting Beef in, your Excellency was kind enough to promise You wou’d make enquiry if any of the Water Casks could be spared.4


1Hay means Wappinger’s Creek in Dutchess County, New York.

2Hay apparently enclosed an appeal from New York governor George Clinton, also written at Poughkeepsie on this date: “From the Information I have of the Conduct and Circumstances of the bearer Mr Platt Titus & other Shipwrights I am fully persuaded that in consequence of their having been so long employed in the public Service, for which they have not received Pay, their families are in a suffering Condition for want of Provisions; and I have Reason to believe that they continued in the public Service from Motives of Patriotism” (DLC:GW).

3Hay refers to West Point.

4Hay evidently had met GW earlier in December (see GW to Hay, 27 Nov., n.4).

GW replied to Hay from headquarters at New Windsor on 22 Dec.: “I recd your favr of the 17th by two of the Carpenters employed at Wappins [Wappinger’s] Creek. You will be pleased to supply those who have families with a reasonable quantity of Meat—Flour and salt on account of their Wages—giving an Acct of the quantity furnished to each to Colo. Hughes that he may be enabled to make the proper deduction at a settlement.

“I find that the Water Casks in the Works cannot be conveniently spared—They are not in use now, but it may happen that they may be wanted at a very short notice, and the worst consequences might ensue, should they be out of the way at such a time.

“I shall be glad to hear how you are like to succeed in procuring Flour” (Df, in Tench Tilghman’s writing, DLC:GW; Varick transcript, DLC:GW). Hay replied to GW on 29 December.

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