George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Lieutenant Colonel Udny Hay, 2 January 1781

From Lieutenant Colonel Udny Hay

Poughkiepse [N.Y.] 2nd Jany 1781


Anxious about the supplies of the Army, and certain they must be nearly if not altogether destitute of flour, and seeing the river this morning nearly clear of ice, I have sent up the river to hurry to the landings all the flour or even wheat that the different assistants possibly can, and have taken the liberty to desire them if possible to hire vessells and even insure them against damages from the ice if they could not be prevaild on to risque their vessells on other terms, this was stepping out of my own line of Duty perhaps, but I hope the very precarious State of the River, and the necessity of getting an immediate supply down will justify the measure in the opinion of your Excellency, I have however for fear no vessells should be there wrote pressingly to Major Keese at Fish Kill to forward some up the River with the utmost dispatch.

Permitt me to mention to Your Excellency that batteaux at this season of the year would perhaps be more convenient than vessells, if hands can be spared for manning them, as, should the weather change suddenly they can be hauld ashore without risque if your Excellency thinks proper to send any be so good as [to] give orders for the officer to call here, that I may have an opportunity of giving him information at what particular landings he will be able to obtain loads.1 I have the honour to be with every sentement of respect, Your Excellencys, most obedt & very humble Svt

Udny Hay


On 5 Jan., Hay wrote GW: “I took the liberty of mentioning to your Excellency in mine of 2nd inst: the necessity, if men could be spared for the purpose, of sending off Batteaux in Quest of flour at the different Landings, as I have heard nothing on that subject since am affraid the Letter has miscarried, and am therefore again induced to request You will give orders for that purpose especially as since my last I have seen several of my Assistants, who, not withstanding the excessive badness of the roads, will I am convinced gett a considerable quantity to the water side as soon as the batteaux or vessells arrive—You will please observe there is some now lays within a mile or two of the Water side which cannot be removed till the vessells are ready to take it in as there are no Store houses at the Landings nearest which it is at present deposited.

“If Any vessels or batteaux are ordered up I could wish the Masters or Officer commanding was desired to call upon me, that they may have no unnecessary delay at any of the Landings.

“I recd intelligence from Albany that a supply of fifty barrells of flour had gone on for Fort Schuyler and that ⟨sevty⟩ more would be ready by 15th Jany” (ALS, DLC:GW).

On 5 Jan., GW’s aide-de-camp Tench Tilghman wrote in part to Hay from headquarters at New Windsor: “Immediately upon the receipt of yours of the 2d His Excellency gave directions to General Heath to send Boats up the River with orders to the Officers commanding them to call upon you. I hope they will make a successful trip, as the Garrison were yesterday upon half allowance of Flour and I do not know whether they have any to day—The Quarter Master General had directions to promise an indemnifaction to the Owners of sloops who would put them out again at this season—and His Excellency authorises you to do the same—The season is favorable beyond all expectation and every day of open weather ought to be improved to the utmost” (DLC:GW).

1For GW’s orders for the transportation of this flour, see his letter to Maj. Gen. William Heath of 3 January.

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