George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Colonel Timothy Pickering, 9 February 1781

From Colonel Timothy Pickering

Newburgh [N.Y.] Feby 9. 1781.


Last evening I received the inclosed letter from Colo. Lutterloh, which I think it my duty to lay before your Excellency.1 It describes a practice not new: but which I hoped to remedy by possitive injunctions to the state agents to deliver none except to the order of the Commissary of Forage, who has repeatedly written to the agents to that effect. The abuse however continues; and in some cases the agents may care little about it, as a few miles transportation may be saved by such irregular deliveries. The evils arising from them are too obvious to need reciting.

The supplies obtained in particular cases in the improper manner above mentioned, are not confined to forage: provisions are obtained in the like way, either by stopping what the agents are sending in, or by sending teams to the agents. For the latter purpose the Commissary for the park has been repeatedly importunate to get teams assigned him.2 And this, in times of scarcity, when the magazine is empty, or contains but ordinary provisions, particularly flour, one corps may be amply supplied with the best provisions, while the rest of the army is on short allowance of provisions, of the worst kind, or starving.

The bearer has brought me a letter from Mr Humphrys, expressing your Excellency’s wishes that the present season may be improved for hauling the raft logs to the river:3 I am happy to inform you, sir, that this business has been attended to diligently—that some time since I directed the quarter master here to get the country teams impressed for that service; that these with the few public teams which could be so employed have been engaged in that business; and that all the logs are hauled from the woods & swamps into the road, and near one third of them to the bank of the river. I have the honour to be with great respect your Excellency’s most obedt servt

T. Pickering Q.M.G.

P.S. I was honoured with your Excellencys letter relative to the remounting the dragoons.4

ALS, DLC:GW; LB, DNA: RG 93, Records of Quartermaster General Timothy Pickering, 1780–87. For GW’s response, see General Orders, 11 February.

On this date, GW’s aide-de-camp Alexander Hamilton wrote Pickering from headquarters: “The General has anticipated the subject of your letter of this day by ordering the greater part of the Jersey troops to Morris Town to occupy the huts there.

“He nevertheless continues in the desire that that place may not be the depositary of any large quantity of stores.

“The situation of the two artificers can only be pitied not redressed. The families of men in the service cannot be the object of military provision, and it will be impossible to discriminate. This is the General’s sentiment and has governed in all former applications of the same kind” (NjMoHP). Pickering’s letter to GW of this date on the subject of the New Jersey troops has not been found. For the orders, see GW to the Officer Commanding the New Jersey Brigade, 7 February. For Pickering’s letter to Hamilton, dated 2 Feb., requesting permission to issue rations to the families of two artificers in Col. Jeduthan Baldwin’s quartermaster artificer regiment, see Hamilton Papers description begins Harold C. Syrett et al., eds. The Papers of Alexander Hamilton. 27 vols. New York, 1961–87. description ends , 2:547.

1The enclosed letter from Henry Emanuel Lutterloh, commissary general of forage, to Pickering, dated Thursday, 8 Feb., reads: “Mr Woodhull, Asst State Agt for Orange County, informed Me to day, that he hade ordered Nine Loads of Hay to be Carried to New Windsor, for the Use of the Horses at Headquarter According to My orders. But coming Allong Six Loads were Stopped by General Knoxes Aids—Major Shaw was with Me on Monday last, and told me, he hade Stopped, Three Loads for the Use of General Knoxes horses. I stated to him the Impropriety of Stopping any forage on the Road which was directed to other Places or Persons. he promissed Me then Not to do it again. and I gave him an order on the Asstd State Agent—to supply General Knoxes horses with six Tuns of Hay; and that the Major was to Sent Some Persons to apply for the Hay, and have it directed to General Knoxe’s quarters. After having taken All these Steps to make a regular supply—and being persuated that 3 Loads of Hay could not be Consumed since Monday, I am Surprised to find That the Hay Directed to Headquarters is stopped again. The present Mode in Stopping forage at any persons Will and pleasure is the greatest Irregularity, and as I am Not Used to any Such Irregular proceedings, should be very glad if you would be pleased to apply for an Article in General Orders That No persons belonging to the Army should on any Account stop or order to be Stopped any Forage coming along the Roads. It is impossible to make any proper Regulations without it, & you Know what trouble it is to get Forage from the State Agents, and the said Agents can never make me a proper Return alledgeing that they could Not get Receipts from Those who Stopped the forage” (DLC:GW). For forage shortages at GW’s headquarters, see GW to Pickering, 25 Jan. (first letter).

2Pickering refers to the commissary for the artillery park.

3On this date, GW’s aide-de-camp David Humphreys wrote Pickering from headquarters: “The present season being very favorable to the transportation of Logs for raffts to support the Chain—the General wishes attention may be paid to this Matter” (DNA: RG 93, manuscript file no. 26044). Capt. Daniel Niven managed these logs (see GW to Niven, 12 Dec. 1780, and n.2 to that document).

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