George Washington Papers

From George Washington to François-Louis-Arthur Thibaut, comte de Ménonville, 6 May 1781

New Windsor 6th May 1781

1st General Washington presumes that Congress has taken measure for the Completion of the Contract entered into by Doctor Franklin, but having received no particular information on the subject, he cannot speak with certainty upon the mode which will be adopted to procure the provision. He would therefore advise Colo. Menonville to proceed to Philada and make his application to Congress thro’ His Excellency the president to whom General Washington will give him letters of introduction.

2d Colonel Menonville may be assured that it is the earnest wish of General Washington to see the French Army supplied with every necessary which this Country affords, and that all the means in his power shall be exerted towards that end—but he begs Colo. Menonville to understand that no more of the Resources of the Country are at his disposal than what have been demanded of the several States for the support of the American Army, and that as the provisions thus put under his direction are not more than sufficient for the purpose here mentioned it would be imprudent in him to promise Colo. Menonville any part of such magazines on account of Doctor Franklin’s Contract. There is no doubt however but the Country can afford an ample supply both for the American and French Troops, even should the latter be increased to the height of our expectations. The only difficulty lies in finding means of drawing it out of the hands of the people. But as the Intendant of the French Army is furnished with the means there can be little doubt of his finding a sufficient quantity of Meat in the Eastern States and of Flour in the Mid and southern (except North and south Carolina which have been much ravaged by the War) to support any force which will probably be employed in America. and with respect to Corn. There is no scarcity, I believe of this article in any State North of Carolina; Virginia and Maryland abound in it, and have no market for it; there posts being shut up by the Enemys cruisers.

The plan of Campaign being contingent it is impossible for General Washington in the prest momt to advise with precision any particular place for the establishment of the Ground Magazines. Thus much he can say in general—That the Flour, which must be principally drawn from Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland and Virginia should be collected as near to Navigable Water as will be consistent with its safety from the attacks of the small Vessels and parties of the enemy which very much infest Chesapeak and Delaware Bays. What Flour can be procured in the State of New York and in the Western parts of Connecticut and Massachusetts may be safety deposited at any place upon the North River above West point.

The Meat which will be consumed during the Campaign will be chiefly fresh and as the Cattle will be driven on foot to the Army, they will be sent in Weekly in numbers equal to the consumption.

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