George Washington Papers

From George Washington to the Board of War, 19 February 1781

To the Board of War

New Windsor, 19 Feby 1781.


I have directed B. Gen. Knox to have prepared at Philadelphia, with as much expedition as possible, a small battering train. He informs me that he shall send Lt Col. Stevens to Philadelphia for this purpose. I beg the favor that you will afford every assistance to Lt Col. Stevens which the means you may possess will admit, According to the orders given by General Knox.1

The success of the expedition for which this apparatus is designed, may probably depend upon the secrecy of the preparations in Philadelphia.2 I have the honor to be Your most hum. servt

G. Washington

Df, in the writing of Samuel Shaw, DLC:GW; Df, NNGL: Henry Knox Papers; Varick transcript, DLC:GW. The board replied to GW on 3 March.

1On this date, Brig. Gen. Henry Knox wrote GW from New Windsor: “A list of the ordnance and principal stores for which Lt Col. Stevens is directed to apply to the honorable board of war and ordnance. vizt:

“3—24 pounders [and] 4—18 [pounders] On travelling carriages, and contained in a return from the board of War 25 June 1780—with implements &ca.

“300 round shot [and] 20 grape [shot] to each of the above—with paper cartridges and a sufficiency of powder to fill them.

“Lt Col. Stevens is directed, if possible, to procure three more heavy pieces, to make up the number ten—and a proportion of ammunition.

“4 field pieces—6 pounders, if to be had; if not, such as can be obtained, with 140 round shot and 60 case [shot] to each piece, and small stores in proportion.

“1—8 inch howitzer [and] 3—5½ inch [howitzer] Each two hundred shells and twenty grape or cannister—fuzes—flannel cartridges for the chambers, &ca.

“One hundred thousand musket cartridges [and] Five thousand flints.

“Estimate of the quantity of powder necessary for the service of the heavy cannon and howitzers:

“24 pounders—960 rounds at 8 lbs each—7680

“18 [pounders] 1280 [rounds at] [6 lbs. each] 7680

“8 inch shells and grape 220 [rounds at] 4 [lbs. each] 880

“5½ [inch shells and grape] 640 [rounds at] 2 [lbs. each] 1280

“[total:] 17,520


“pounds weight 17,800.

“Three carpenters—three wheelwrights—three blacksmiths—three armourers, with proper tools and a travelling forge will be necessary, also, a Conductor of Military Stores.

“It being rather uncertain what quantity of ordnance Lt Col. Stevens will be able to obtain, the small species of stores necessary for batteries are omitted. He will render an estimate of them when he knows the number he shall be able to procure” (DS, DLC:GW).

2For this expedition, see Lafayette to GW, 20 Feb. (both letters [1 and 2]).

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