George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Lieutenant Colonel David Humphreys, 21 February 1781

From Lieutenant Colonel David Humphreys

Hartford Febry 21st ⟨17⟩81

My Dear General

I received at Lebanon ⟨your favour of the 15th and⟩ shall yield implicit obedience to the contents1—but having been obliged to procure a Horse near N. Haven in the room of one of mine which I had lamed, I shall be under the necessity of sending tither ⟨&⟩ my return will be delayed a week or ten days; unless I should be honored with your further Commands which will find me at this place.

I enclose a Hartford Paper containing some favorable advices from the West Indies.2 I have spoken to the Qr Mastr & Printer ⟨to have this⟩ Paper regularly paid for, & forwarded to Head Quarters.3

The Assembly meets here this day ⟨on the Subject of⟩ furnishing Money and ⟨supplies⟩ for the Army. Should any thing ⟨of⟩ moment occur I shall inform you of it.

I have taken particular pains to ascertain the proportion of Recruits, in the several Towns thro’ which I have passed, and beleive more than half of the whole number are already obtained principally for three Years, tho there are ⟨some in⟩ every Town for the War—Most of the Recruits are said to be exceedingly good Men, but some, who from age or other circumstances are not fit for the service ⟨have⟩ been Mustered & turned over to the Recruiting Officers. By the Law of the State the Recruiting officer is compelled to receive them, after they are Mustered ⟨by⟩ the Colonel of the Regt of Militia to which they belonged, and I see no way to get free of these men, but by a careful inspection on their joining the Army.4 In consequence of which, and a proper representation, it is possible we may have the deficiency made good—at least we shall not be encumbered with the dead weight, nor our provisions consumed with useless Mouths. Would it not be expedient to have an Order issued, cautioning circumspection in receiving Recruits, and pointing out the Mode of rejecting those who are not capable of the service, by having duplicate Certificates made out, ⟨spe⟩cifying the reasons of rejection signed by the Inspector, and countersigned by the Commanding Officer of the Br⟨igade⟩—the ⟨one⟩ to be transmitted to the Select Men of the Town, where such Recruit belonged, to show that he is not in service, & cannot be considered or provided for as part of ⟨the quota⟩ of [the] Town—the other to be forwarded ⟨to⟩ the Governor, together with a Return of all the Non accepted Recruits, with the Towns & Classes by which they were furnished, and a requisition to have them replaced by effective able bodied Men.

Brigadier Genl Huntington had given ⟨Or⟩ders to the Recruiting Officers in the Eastern part of this State, to have the Men collected & forwarded immediately, under Officers returning from furlough to Camp. This will not only save expence, but prevent many excesses & frequent Desertions which will take place, if the Recruits continue long in the State. Might it not be advisable to extend this regulation universally to the N. England States?

The Dep. Qr Master for the State, with the aid he has received from goverment, would, be able, I believe, to forward on considerable quantities of Salted provisions to the North River, if the Quarter Master General would make the Necessary Arrangements with him. Would this not be an eligible Measure in every point of consideration—And the more so, as there is great danger the supply of Beef Cattle, from this time to grass, will be very irregular & precarious—And indeed I can foresee no Means of obtaining any, but by Assessment, as the Public has neither Money, or Credit. A little attention paid to this Matter in season by that Department, may save an infinity of trouble & embarrassment, and cannot be attended with any disagreeable consequences. I have the honor to be With the Most perfect respect & Attachment, Your Excellencys faithful Aide & Hble Servant

D. Humphrys

ALS, DLC:GW. Faded and illegible portions of the ALS are supplied in angle brackets from Humphreys, Life and Times of David Humphreys description begins Francis Landon Humphreys. Life and Times of David Humphreys: Soldier—Statesman—Poet, “Belov’d of Washington.” 2 vols. New York and London, 1917. description ends , 1:205–7.

2Humphreys presumably enclosed The Connecticut Courant and Weekly Intelligencer (Hartford) for 20 Feb., which printed an “Extract of a letter from St. Piere, Martinique, January 18” that reads:

“The British made a very serious attack on St. Vincents about three weeks ago; Admiral Rodney, with fourteen sail of the line, covered their landing 3000 troops, and having made an assault upon the garrison, were defeated, and obliged to retreat on board their fleet; they lost, as it is said, 700 killed, and upwards of 500 wounded; the garrison consisted of about 700 besides militia.

“We have accounts from St. Lucia, that Commodore Hood has arrived there with four sail of the line and several transports, being part of a fleet of 10 sail of the line, and 100 transports with troops, &c. and having fallen in with the Count d’Estaing, were all taken, except those arrived at St. Lucia; they have now eighteen sail of the line there, under the command of Admiral Rodney; the French have five sail of the line to windward, which are at Port-Royal.” The intelligence was erroneous (see Rochambeau to GW, 18 Feb., n.1).

3Barzillai Hudson and George Goodwin then printed the Connecticut Courant. They began publishing together in March 1779, and their partnership, Hudson & Goodwin, continued until November 1815 (see Brigham, American Newspapers description begins Clarence S. Brigham. History and Bibliography of American Newspapers, 1690–1820. 2 vols. Worcester, Mass., 1947. description ends , 1:22). The partners also owned and operated paper mills, a bookstore, a printing office, and a mercantile business.

George Goodwin (1757–1844) from January 1778 to February 1779 published the Connecticut Courant in partnership with Hannah Watson, the widow of a former publisher of the paper. After dissolving his partnership, Goodwin continued to publish the newspaper under the name George Goodwin & Sons until December 1820 (see Brigham, American Newspapers description begins Clarence S. Brigham. History and Bibliography of American Newspapers, 1690–1820. 2 vols. Worcester, Mass., 1947. description ends , 1:22). Goodwin & Sons operated some of the mills formerly owned by Hudson & Goodwin, as well as the bookstore and the printing office.

Barzillai Hudson (1749–1823) married Hannah Watson in March 1779. After dissolving his partnership with Goodwin, Hudson, with his son, began to operate a new firm, Hudson & Co., that owned a paper mill, a printing office, and a mercantile firm.

4For the act of the Connecticut assembly for raising men to complete the state’s quota of Continental troops, see Elisha Sheldon to GW, 24 Jan., n.5.

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