George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Major General Benjamin Lincoln, 7 January 1781

From Major General Benjamin Lincoln

Boston January 7th 1781

Nothing My dear General very new or material has taken place, since I did my self the honor to address your Excellency under the 26th.1 However I cannot omit so good an opportunity as offers by this express, to inform you that the recruiting service goes on well, and that there is good reason to hope our battalions will soon be filled up.

The matter of clothing the army is of such importance, in every point of view, that I have been induced to draught a petition to the General Assembly, which I shall offer tomorrow, praying that they would immediately cloth the recruits, as no effectual provision has been made for this purpose by the continent—and shewing that to march them unclothed would only put them in a situation to observe the miseries of others, with sensations of distress sharpened by their own suffering, without being able to render any services to their country. I flatter my self with hopes of success in this application; and that when the assembly confides that hereby the evils of nakedness will be avoided—The just expectation of the soldier fulfilled—The recruting service promoted—The Good of the cause advanced; & that it can with ease be effected, without loss to this perticular State, they will grant my prayer.2

I mentioned to your Excellency that probably the troops would rendezvous in this town, & at Springfield; all of them will, excepting those raised in the County of Barkshire; they in Great Barrington—where the superintendent or muster master will deliver them to such officer as your Excellency shall order to receive them.

The flourishing state of trade and the low rate of bills of exchange, which are 15 or 20 ⅌cent under par casts the darkest shade on our public affairs; as it may retard our borrowing those sums so necessary for prosecuting the war with vigour, unless at great loss. For while bills are at their present rate it will be difficult to borrow cash, as the holders can lodge it in Europe with so much advantage to themselves. So that if we borrow it must be bills at par; the loss on which will be great—but when the alternative is this measure or further emissions of paper money can there be a doubt which is the most eligible?3 I have the honor to be my Dear General with the highest esteem Your Exellencys most Obedient & most humble servant

B. Lincoln

ALS, DLC:GW; ADf, MHi: Lincoln Papers.

1Lincoln presumably refers to his letter to GW on 25 December.

2Lincoln’s petition to the Massachusetts legislature has not been identified.

On 27 Jan., the Massachusetts legislature passed a “RESOLVE ORDERING THE NEW LEVIES RAISED IN THIS COMMONWEALTH TO BE FURNISHED WITH CLOATHING,” which directed a committee to procure by loan clothing “sufficient to cloath all the new levies raised and to be raised in the Commonwealth” and to “deliver the cloathing so procured, to the order of Major-General Lincoln, in this State” (Mass. Acts and Laws, 1780–81, p. 237).

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