George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Brigadier General John Stark, 1 January 1781

From Brigadier General John Stark

Peeks kill Hollow [N.Y.] 1st Jany 1781


I have been Honored with your letter of the 31st Ult. together with the enclosed Resolution of Congress.1 If my health permits, I shall endeavour to pursue my journey by the last of this week; but my finances are entire⟨ly⟩ exhausted, neither do I know Where they can be replenished, unless by application to your Excellency: I believe five Thousand dollars may answer my purpose, if you can grant me that Sum, it will be considered as an infinite obligation. I beg your Excellency will consider, that I have not Drawn a single farthing of Cash (as wages) from the Public, since the last of Decr 1778, and only four thousand Dollars on account since that time; therefore, as my demands have not been great, and my present necessity very urgent, I flatter myself your Excellency will furnish me with the Cash.

As to the term of my absence, it is a matter of Indifference with me, whether your Excellency, or Congress limits it; but either way, I shall return as soon as my health will permit.2

Wishing your Excellency a happy new year, and an agreeable winter, I have the Honor to be with much respect & esteem Your Excellency’s Most Ob. & Vry Hu. St

John Stark

LS, DLC:GW. The cover is marked “private.”

1A leave for Stark had been under consideration by GW and Congress since the fall (see Stark to GW, 30 Nov. 1780, and the source note to that document).

2GW replied to Stark on 3 Jan. 1781 from headquarters at New Windsor: “I am favored with yours of the 1st Instant, and wish it was in my power to gratify you, in your request—but as there is not a single farthing in the Military Chest, it will be absolutely impossible to furnish any part of the sum sollicited. … P.S. I have not been able to obtain any Money for my own expences, or table for More than three Months” (LS, in David Humphreys’s writing, NhHi: Stark Papers; Df, DLC:GW; Varick transcript, DLC:GW).

Prior to GW’s reply, Stark had written Q.M. Gen. Timothy Pickering from Peekskill Hollow on 2 Jan.: “Having received his excellency’s approbation for leave of absence for the recovery of my health, I propose setting out the last of the week; but am absolutely destitute of cash to perform my intended journey, or for the transportation of my baggage. If you can furnish me with a sum sufficient for the purpose, I shall be very glad. I have certificates from the quarter master and forage department for nearly ten thousand dollars, but I suppose you do not take them; therefore, I must solicit to have some cash advanced on account. I wish you to let me know as soon as possible what assistance you can afford me” (Stark, Memoir of John Stark description begins Caleb Stark. Memoir and Official Correspondence of Gen. John Stark, with Notices of Several Other Officers of the Revolution . . .. 1860. Reprint. Boston, 1972. description ends , 209).

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