Posterity would regard as “fiction” the circumstances under which Americans achieved victory in the War for Independence. So wrote General George Washington as the conflict was drawing to a close. He thought that future generations would find it hard to believe that the force employed by Great Britain to subdue the rebels “could be baffled . . . by numbers infinitely less, composed of men oftentimes half starved, always in rags, without pay, and experiencing, at times, every species of distress which human nature is capable of undergoing.”1 Predominantly agrarian, the colonies could produce sufficient food to support an army, but a lack of adequate transportation hindered the delivery and distribution of provisions. Some industry did exist, but this widely scattered small shop and household manufacture was incapable of the large-scale production needed to meet wartime requirements. When the first shots of war rang out in April 1775, the rebelling colonists, divided among themselves on objectives, had neither an army nor a navy. They lacked a strong centralized government to direct operations and had no stable currency for financing a war. How, thus handicapped, could they raise and keep an army in the field for eight years until, with foreign assistance, they attained victory?
The Continental Army evolved from the militia organization familiar to the colonists. When war began in the Massachusetts Bay colony in April 1775, the colonists who gathered to confront British regulars were militiamen. Four days after the battles of Lexington and Concord the Massachusetts Provincial Congress voted to raise an army of 30,000 men and requested the other New England colonies to join in this effort. The New England colonies then began the process of forming from their various militias a volunteer army enlisted for the rest of the year. In June the Continental Congress took over the New England army besieging Boston and reinforced. it with ten rifle companies from Pennsylvania, Maryland, and Virginia, the first soldiers drawn from outside New England. Congress thereby created the Continental Army.
1. George Washington, The Writings of George Washington, ed. John C. Fitzpatrick, 30 vols. (Washington, 1931-39), 26:104 (to Maj Gen Nathanael Greene, 6 Feb 83). Hereafter cited as Fitzpatrick, Writings of Washington.
The delegates unanimously elected George Washington to be commander of all forces then raised, or to be raised, for the defense of American liberty. To Washington fell the unenviable task of trying to whip up enthusiasm for reenlistment among the New England troops whose terms of service expired at the close of that year. From this nucleus he built the Continental Army, but the unpatriotic attitudes he encountered discouraged him.
Such a dearth of public spirit, and want of virtue, and stock jobbing, and fertility in all the low arts to obtain advantages of one kind or another, I never saw before and pray God I may never be witness to again . . . . Could I have foreseen what I have, and am likely to experience, no consideration upon Earth should have induced me to accept this command.2
Despite the small number who were willing to enlist-a persistent problem throughout the war-the actual creation of the Continental Army was more readily accomplished than its maintenance in the field. Even by the time the war ended in 1783, Congress had failed to develop satisfactory administrative agencies capable of providing essential logistical support.
Colonial leaders were handicapped by a lack of practical experience with supply agencies, but they were well aware of the importance of both men and supplies in military operations. In anticipation of possible conflict with the mother country, they had initiated preparatory measures directed not only toward the improvement of the militia but also toward the accumulation of military stores of all kinds. However, since few men initially envisaged independence from Great Britain and engagement in a protracted war, it is doubtful that they appreciated the scope of the support required by an army.
In the later years of the war, moreover, the enthusiastic support given to the troops besieging Boston in 1775 was eroded by war-weariness. By the spring of 1781 Washington was in despair.
Instead of having Magazines filled with provisions, we have a scanty pittance scattered here and there in the different States. Instead of having our Arsenals well supplied with Military Stores, they are all poorly provided, and the Workmen all leaving them. Instead of having various articles of Field equipage in readiness to deliver, the Quarter Master General . . . is but now applying to the several States to provide these things for the Troops respectively. Instead of having a regular System of Transportation established upon credit-or funds in the Qr. Masters hands to defray the contingent expenses of it we have neither the one nor the other and all that business, or a great part of it being done by Military Impress, we are daily and hourly oppressing the people-souring their tempers-and alienating their affections.3
2. Ibid., 4:124 (to Joseph Reed, 28 Nov 75).
3. George Washington, The Diaries of George Washington, ed. John C. Fitzpatrick, 4 vols. (Boston, 1925), 2:207-09 (May 1781).
GEORGE WASHINGTON AT PRINCETON
Such prewar supply measures as colonial leaders took were within the framework of their experience with the militia system. Under that system militiamen reporting for an expedition against the Indians brought their own arms and accouterments. Their guns might be any kind, from muskets to fowling pieces, or even none at all. In most colonies the local authorities maintained an emergency supply of powder and weapons paid for by the towns or counties. Militiamen brought their own provisions as well, for expeditions were usually of short duration. If accomplishing their objective required more than a few days, colonial authorities customarily appointed one or more commissaries, or agents, who served only for the duration of the expedition. The commissary purchased any rations that were needed, but since the prescribed articles of food could be readily procured, no prior logistical planning was required.
No staff officers were included in the militia organization of any colony, nor were any considered necessary. Even in an eighteenth century professional army, staff officers existed only in time of war. Their omission in America from the militia organization did not imply that its officers were unaware of the positions occupied by staff officers in European armies. Their knowledge of staff organization, however, came largely from reading. Some colonists serving in the French and Indian War had observed British staff operations. A few had acquired first-hand experience in the British Army's supply and hospital operations, but their participation had been limited to duties at the lowest level of the staff departments, such as acting as a commissary or as a surgeon's mate.4 Dr. James Craik, who served in the Hospital Department of the Continental Army during the Revolutionary War, had been surgeon to Maj. Gen. Edward Braddock's expedition, but he appears to have been an exception to the general rule. The colonist more commonly had served as a surgeon's mate in the British Hospital Department, as Dr. John Cochran had done in the French and Indian War. He acted as Director of the American Hospital Department during part of the Revolutionary War. As far as the records show, no colonist ever filled a staff position in the British Ordnance or Quartermaster's Departments. For the more protracted wars against the French in which the colonial volunteer forces participated, the British Army provided the staff planners and staff officers.
As a result of British operations in the French and Indian War, some colonial leaders took an increased interest in the technical military literature of the day. The most popular textbook in the British Army was a work written by Humphrey Bland, entitled A Treatise of Military Discipline.
4. Robert Ogden was appointed a commissary in New Jersey in March 1776. He had many years of experience. Since 1744 he had served as a commissary to the King's troops whenever they had been quartered in New Jersey. Washington Papers, 39:90 (Ogden to Washington, 18 Jan 77), Manuscript Division, Library of Congress.
Washington acquired a copy in 1755. On his recommendation, southern militia officers thereafter studied Bland.5 Washington also obtained and studied an English translation by Capt. Thomas Otway of a French study on the art of war.6 Timothy Pickering, member of the Board of War and Quartermaster General during the last years of the Revolution; Henry Knox, Chief of Artillery during the Revolution; and Nathanael Greene, military strategist and ablest of the Revolutionary Quartermasters General, were familiar with The Memoirs of Marshal Saxe.7 During the Revolutionary War the most popular and widely read work was a British text, The Military Guide for Young Officers, by Thomas Simes.
These military works not only familiarized the colonial leaders with matters of drill, tactics, and organization but also described supply duties of staff officers and stressed their importance. Captain Otway, emphasizing the role of subsistence supply in military operations, warned that hunger was more fatal than the sword. Simes cautioned that the staff properly existed only in time of war; he noted that the Quartermaster General ranked as the first of all staff officers and described his duties in detail. Staff officers of the Continental Army drew upon such studies, their knowledge of the organization of the British Army, and practical experience gained during the initial campaigns of the Revolutionary War to evolve the supply services.
Appointment of Supply Chiefs
Recognizing the need for staff officers, the Continental Congress on 16 June 1775 promptly authorized appointment of a Quartermaster General and a Commissary General of Stores and Provisions for the Continental Army. A few weeks later it also established a Hospital Department, but it did so without consulting any doctors. Except for the skeletal organization it established for the Hospital Department, Congress left decisions concerning the nature of the supply departments to the newly appointed supply chiefs.
The delegates to the Continental Congress acted more slowly in appointing staff officers to handle ordnance and clothing, though they were at once concerned with the procurement of these supplies. At Washington's request, Congress in July authorized the appointment of a Commissary of Military Stores. The latter, however, was simply a field officer responsible for the receipt and issue of ordnance stores. The Chief of Artillery
5. See John W. Wright, “Some Notes on the Continental Army,” William and Mary College Quarterly Historical Magazine, 2d ser. 11 (1931): 83-86.
6. This study by Count Turpin de Crisse, E.ssai sur l'Art de la Guerre, was published in Paris in 1754. The English translation by Captain Otway appeared in London in 1761.
7. Published in Paris in 1730, this work appeared in English in 1761 and was widely read in the colonies.
8. Based on Bland and Saxe, this two-volume work was reprinted in Philadelphia in 1776.
furnished such ordnance staff support as Washington required. Congress did not establish other essential parts of an ordnance department until January 1777. Shortly before that date, it also had authorized, and Washington had appointed, a Clothier General. Throughout this eighteen-month period Congress neither defined the functions of the supply chiefs nor formulated any regulatory plan to govern their activities.
The supply efforts of the Continental Congress have generally been dismissed
as inept. Its administrative shortcomings are clear, but supplying the
Continental Army was only one of many problems demanding resolution by
a Congress that lacked clear specific powers. It had to raise and train
an army, create a navy, appoint commanders, send diplomats to Europe, regulate
commerce, negotiate with the Indians, and issue paper money to finance
military operations. Yet its authority was limited to what the individual
states would permit or what public opinion would support. It could recommend
and even enact measures, but it could not enforce them; their effectiveness
depended upon the voluntary support of the states. Ratification of the
Articles of Confederation in 1781 still did not provide a strong executive
or a Congress with full power to act.9
It is thus not surprising that the Continental Congress, preoccupied with such a variety of problems, left the details of developing adequate organizations and procedures to supply officers. By 1777, however, the delegates became imbued with a veritable "rage for reformation" in the wake of increasing complaints about neglect of the soldiers by the Hospital Department and mounting criticism of the activities of purchasing commissaries in Pennsylvania and New Jersey.10 Supply abuses and failures loomed especially large in the face of defeats suffered by Washington in New York and losses sustained by the Northern Army.
One regulatory measure followed another during the spring of 1777 as the Continental Congress sought to improve the organization of the supply services and to eliminate the abuses that had been uncovered. In the process, functions and duties of the three supply departments established in 1775 were specifically enumerated, and procedures to be followed by their officers were set forth in such minute detail as to paralyze supply operations. Oddly enough, though Congress had by this time added a Clothier General and a Commissary General of Military Stores to the staff officers, it did not provide regulatory measures for their guidance. Congress was thus repeating the procedure that it had followed in establishing the original staff posts. During the remaining years of the war Congress would repeatedly return to the reorganization of the supply services.
9. See Edmund C. Burnett, The Continental Congress (New York, 1941).
10. Richard Henry Lee, The Letters of Richard Henry Lee, ed. J. C. Ballagh, 2 vols. (New York, 191 I), 1:352 (to Washington, 20 Nov 77).
Gradual Evolution of a War Department
The fact that the Continental Congress initially exercised only a limited amount of supervisory control over the supply agencies resulted not only from the multiplicity of problems confronting it but also from the very nature of its organization and the lack of any executive department to exercise control.11 Such supervision as Congress did exercise was accomplished through special committees sent to visit the troops. Temporarily appointed committees usually arrived at headquarters at times of crisis, such as after the withdrawal of Washington's army from Long Island in the summer of 1776. These special committees consulted with General Washington, occasionally with boards of officers, and always with the chiefs of the supply agencies. After receiving a committee's report, Congress took specific supply actions.
As problems confronting Congress became increasingly complex, it soon resorted to the use of standing committees of delegates to perform certain executive duties. Of particular importance to supply were two committees established in the fall of 1775. On 18 September Congress created a Secret Committee of nine members, any five of whom constituted a quorum for conducting business. When its membership dwindled to two, Congress on 5 July 1777 established a Commerce Committee, vesting in it the powers formerly granted to the Secret Committee.12 These powers had primarily to do with the procurement of supplies abroad as authorized by Congress. On 29 November 1775 Congress also established the Committee of Secret Correspondence, which later, on 17 April 1777, became the Committee for Foreign Affairs; it was primarily concerned with diplomatic relations and foreign aid.13 While the two committees created in 1775 were partly identical in membership-Robert Morris, for example, served on both-they were nonetheless distinct. Like some of the other standing committees, such as the Board of Treasury, they developed into separate departments.
Although the Secret Committee and the Committee of Secret Correspondence were concerned with procuring supplies abroad and obtaining foreign aid, they had only incidental contact with the chiefs of the supply services. The Continental Congress, for instance, occasionally directed the Secret Committee to furnish the Quartermaster General with invoices of arriving cargoes acquired on the government's account. Without the foreign aid secured by these committees, however, the supply services could not
11. For a detailed analysis of the growth of the executive department, see Jennings B. Sanders, Evolution of Executive Departments of the Continental Congress, 1774-1789 (Chapel Hill, 1935), pp. 4 ff.
12. Worthington C. Ford et al., eds., Journals of the Continental Congress, 34 vols. (Washington, 1904-37), 2:253-54 (18 Sep 75); 8:533-34 (5 Jul 77). Hereafter cited as JCC.
13. Ibid., 3:392 (29 Nov 75); 7:274 (17 Apr 77).
have provided enough support to keep the Continental Army in the field, nor could the Revolutionary War have been brought to a successful conclusion. In addition to these two committees, there were other standing committees-the Cannon Committee, the Clothing Committee, and the Medical Committee-also engaged in procurement activities. The Medical Committee, until it was discontinued in 1781, was the only committee that exercised supervision over a related supply service, the Hospital Department.
Despite opposition to the creation of an executive branch, the Continental Congress gradually moved in that direction. It took its first step toward creating a war department when it established a Board of War and Ordnance on 12 June 1776. Washington had for some time been urging the necessity of a war office. When informing him of the action taken, John Hancock, President of the Continental Congress, concluded that "a new and great event in the history of America" had occurred However, since this first board consisted of five delegates of Congress, it was little more than another standing committee, deliberating and reporting to Congress. Inasmuch as the board was responsible, among other duties, for all the artillery, ammunition, and other military stores of the Continental Army, Congress shortly ordered the Secret Committee to deliver to the Board of War all arms, ammunition, and other military stores then under its care or thereafter imported or purchased by it.16
Duty on the board proved too onerous for men who were also serving in Congress. Before the end of 1776 Congress appointed a committee to draft a better plan for conducting its executive business. Congress, however, delayed action on the report for one reason or another. It was 17 October 1777 before it resolved to establish a Board of War consisting of three persons who were not members of Congress.17 The board's membership underwent some subsequent changes, but its supply duties remained relatively constant. It was chiefly concerned with keeping accounts of ordnance and all other military stores; storing and preserving them; laying before Congress estimates of needed stores; and superintending the building of arsenals, foundries, magazines, barracks, and other necessary public buildings.
Congress appointed former Quartermaster General Thomas Mifflin and former Commissary General Joseph Trumbull as members of the revised board.18 Both were considered to be well informed on the problems of their
14. JCC, 6:1064.
15. ( I ) Ibid., 5:434. (2) Fitzpatrick, Writings of Washington, 5:128, 128n. (to Pres of Cong, 13 Jun 76).
16. JCC, 5:831 (27 Sep 76).
17. Ibid., 7:241, 242 (8 Apr 77); 9:818-20 (17 Oct 77).
18. (1) Ibid., 9:962-63 (24 Nov 77); 971 (27 Nov 77). (2) Edmund C. Burnett, ed., Letters of Members of the Continental Congress, 7 vols. (Washington, 1921-36), 2:571-72 (Elbridge Gerry to Trumbull, 27 Nov 77). Hereafter cited as Burnett, Letters. (3) Trumbull never took his seat on the Board of War, for ill health prevented his attendance at meetings. He died less than a year later, on 23 July 1778.
respective former supply departments and well qualified to bring about improvements in their operations. Yet two years elapsed before Congress specifically placed these two supply departments under the direction of the Board of War on 25 November 1779.19 Records do not reveal any close supervision exercised by the Board of War over the Quartermaster's and Commissary Departments even then, and this action did not eliminate all difficulties in the departments. The board had much more authority over operations in the Ordnance Department.
Some fourteen months after bringing the supply departments under the control of the board, Congress abolished that agency, replacing it with a War Office headed by a Secretary at War. This development stemmed from ratification of the Articles of Confederation. It was 30 October 1781, however, before Congress elected Maj. Gen. Benjamin Lincoln to fill the office; he accepted on 26 November. His duties, initially much the same as those formerly performed by the Board of War, were expanded in April 1782.20 An executive department with supervisory control over all supply departments had finally evolved, but by the time Secretary Lincoln took over their supervision, Lord Cornwallis had surrendered at Yorktown. Though the Continental Army was maintained on a war basis in 1782 as a precautionary measure, there was no need to provide supplies for active campaigns. Instead, during the closing months of the Revolutionary War, Secretary Lincoln presided over the reduction of the Army and the liquidation of the supply services.
In developing supply organizations, the colonists had recourse to both
their practical experience and their academic knowledge of British supply
agencies. On the other hand, in developing supply procedures, particularly
those essential in the procurement field, the supply chiefs relied upon
the experience and the knowledge of the colonial merchants. Indeed, Congress
sought out merchants to serve as supply chiefs, and in many instances merchants
eagerly sought positions as purchasing agents.
Whether directed by committees in the Continental Congress or by supply officers, procurement was handled by merchants. In Congress Robert Morris, a Philadelphia merchant, replaced Thomas Willing, his business partner, as chairman of the Secret Committee and dominated its foreign procurement. The merchants on that committee included, among others, Philip Livingston and Francis Lewis of New York and John Langdon of Portsmouth, New Hampshire; some were also on other procurement standing committees. In the Continental Army Thomas Mifflin, a Philadelphia
19. JCC, 15:1312.
20. Ibid., 21:1087, 1141; 22:177-78 (9 Apr 82).
merchant, became the first Quartermaster General, and Jeremiah Wadsworth, the most important Connecticut trader during the Revolutionary War, served as the Commissary General of Purchases in 1778 and 1779. Not only chiefs of supply departments but most, if not all, of their purchasing deputies were merchants.
The merchant alone had the knowledge, the trade connections, and the necessary credit to handle procurement. For the most part, his business was a personal venture in which he utilized his personal connections and took advantage of the mutual patronage they afforded him.21 Though the corporate form of business organization was known, it was seldom used in the American colonies on the eve of the Revolution. Customarily, a merchant directed his own business or entered into a partnership. The firm of Otis and Andrews, which was active in providing clothing for the Continental troops, and that of Willing and Morris, which was deeply involved in filling powder and other supply contracts for the Secret Committee, are illustrative of partnership organization during the Revolution. Whether working in partnership or singly, the merchant was quite likely to be engaged in more than one business. It was also not unusual for several persons to join their capital and goods in a single project without formal partnership, the expenses and profits being divided in proportion to investment.
Colonial mercantile business was not characterized by any great degree of specialization. The merchant's role involved the functions of shipper, banker, wholesaler, retailer, warehouseman, and insurer-functions which today would be handled by specialized personnel. However, though a merchant might be able to perform all of these functions, they were recognized on the eve of the Revolution as separate activities. The individual merchant did not have to perform all of them in order to sell his goods. He could, for example, ship his merchandise in a vessel of another shipowner, consigning it to an agent for sale.
The development of the agent, that is, the commission merchant and broker, was the outstanding feature of business in the eighteenth century.22 The agent bought and sold goods on commission for his clients at home or abroad. He arranged shipment, handled insurance, honored bills of exchange drawn upon him by his trusted customers, and, in short, did everything he could to promote his clients' interests as if they were his own. The merchant's most valuable asset was his reputation for honesty and for scrupulous attention to the details of the business placed in his hands. By
21. Mercantile practice has been analyzed and described in such studies as Robert A. East, Business Enterprise in the American Revolutionary Era (1938; Peter Smith reprint, 1964); William T. Baxter, House of Hancock (New York, 1965); Margaret E. Martin, Merchants and Trade of the Connecticut River Valley, 1750-1820, Smith College Studies in History, vol. 24 (Northampton, Mass., 1939).
22. Virginia D. Harrington, The New York Merchant on the Eve of the Revolution (1935; Peter Smith reprint, 1964), p. 68.
1775 some merchants had become primarily commission merchants or brokers, but all important merchants acted as agents for one another. The agent's commission was a percentage of the gross value of the goods handled.
Long before the Revolution the payment of commissions to purchasing commissaries and quartermasters had become an established business procedure. Though contracts for providing supplies to British troops during the French and Indian War were placed with English merchants, the latter had agents in the colonies to act for them. Provincial troops participating in that war also had to be supplied. For the attack on Crown Point, for example, Rhode Island appointed a New York merchant as its agent to supply its troops with food and clothing, negotiate money bills for the province, and sell all produce sent to him as payment for the colony's account. For this service he received commissions of 5 percent for purchases, 2 ½ percent for money, and 7 ½ percent for storage and sale.23
During the Revolutionary War, the merchants who acted as agents for the Continental Congress and for the states in the procurement of supplies were paid a commission on the value of their purchases. They utilized their own credit to obtain supplies and incurred debts for which they were personally liable. That the payment of commissions opened the way to abuses was a fact initially ignored and subsequently roundly condemned but never wholly eliminated until Robert Morris, late in the war, introduced the system of contracts into Continental Army procurement operations.
Common Features of Supply Organization
All of the supply agencies had certain common organizational features. They divided their organizations into two units. The field units handled primarily the receipt and issue of supplies to the troops. In consequence, they moved with the troops of Washington's army or with those of a separate army. In 1775 the Commissary and Quartermaster's Departments were the major supply agencies. The first Quartermaster General, Thomas Mifflin, and the first Commissary General of Stores and Provisions, Joseph Trumbull, each shaped his field organization to provide support for the three divisions into which Washington divided his troops in 1775. Backing up the field units were departmental units that procured and delivered supplies needed by the Continental Army. Initially, these were little more than groups of merchants who acted as a procurement arm for each supply chief. The functions of these units expanded in time to include, among other duties, supervision of repair work, production of military items, and establishment and management of magazines. This expansion occurred rapidly after the main army left Boston in April 1776. It then became necessary, for example,
23. Ibid., p. 296.
to appoint a deputy in the Quartermaster's Department to take care of supplies left behind by Washington's troops. Unlike the field units, the departmental units developed into fixed subordinate organizations of the supply agencies, administered by deputies. Within a few months after the troops departed, the assistant quartermaster general assigned to Boston was being referred to as the deputy of the Eastern Department.
The idea of dividing the country into military departments was a natural consequence of the establishment of separate armies. When Washington designated Maj. Gen. Philip Schuyler as head of a separate army in June 1775, he named Schuyler's area of command the Northern Department. In the beginning the department was often also referred to as the New York Department, but this title was soon abandoned. The Continental Congress took no formal action to name either the Eastern or the Northern Departments, nor did it indicate the area included in each. However, in late February 1776 Congress formally established two other military departments. The Middle Department included Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania. The Southern Department embraced the Carolinas, Georgia, and Virginia.24
The establishment of subordinate departmental units of the supply agencies in each of the military departments was a feature that the Continental Congress incorporated in the regulations for the supply departments that it adopted in 1777 and retained for the next three years. As long as military operations remained limited in the southern states before 1779, these regulations were not applied to the Southern Department as a whole but only to the Southern District, that is, the state of Virginia. Making a regulatory measure equally applicable to all military departments, however, had a consequence that Congress probably had not foreseen. It permitted an expansion of supply personnel out of all proportion to the need. Certainly, neither the Eastern Department after the evacuation of Boston nor the Northern Department after the battle of Saratoga required the same number of personnel as did the Middle Department, where continuing active operations had to be supported. It was 1780 before Congress, in the interest of economy, sharply curtailed departmental units of the supply agencies in the military departments. This reduction was linked to congressional action making the states responsible for providing specific supplies-beef, pork, flour, rum, salt, and forage-to the Continental Army. Reduction of departmental personnel was increased when Congress later resorted to the use of contracts for such supplies. In the closing months of the war, the supply services existed for the most part as field units, as they had when first
24. JCC, 4:174 (27 Feb. 76). In actual practice the northern part of New York continued to be a part of the Northern Department; only the southern half of the state was included in the Middle Department.
established in 1775, while Robert Morris as Superintendent of Finance directed procurement and overall supply operations.
Lack of a Stable Currency
The supply departments were dependent on the measures that the Continental Congress instituted to finance the war. Without adequate funds the supply departments could not procure the supplies and equipment essential for maintaining an army in the field. Yet the Revolution had begun before any funds were made available. Except for issuing paper money, bills of credit redeemable at a future date, Congress had no means to purchase supplies. Paper money “provided the sinews of war in the first five years of the Revolution.”25 As in other areas, the delegates were following earlier precedents. In reviewing measures taken to finance the war, a Treasury report in the spring of 1781 noted that the use of paper money "was an expedient, which was well known, and had often been practiced to good effect in the several colonies" as a remedy for the chronic insufficiency of the money supply.
The Continental Congress began by issuing 2 million dollars in June 1775, and it increased the amount to 6 million before the end of the year. Wartime requirements soon demanded additional paper money. Before the end of 1776 a total of 25 million dollars was in circulation, and further issues followed rapidly. The necessity to augment the strength of Washington's army by calling out and equipping the militia had increased expenses, as had the need to replace equipment and supplies lost in the retreat from Long Island in August 1776. Concerned that such emissions of paper money would result in depreciation, Congress sought to raise funds by supplementary means. It turned to a lottery and to the sale of government bonds, then called loan certificates. Neither was sufficiently productive, and Congress was compelled to issue more paper money.
Congress also resorted to requisitions on the states. Until 1777 the delegates made no effort to encourage the states to raise funds through taxation. In theory the states had the power to levy taxes, but in reality they were in no position to do so. They already were issuing paper money to finance their own wartime expenditures, including equipping their militia. But with Continental paper money beginning to depreciate, Congress on 22 November 1777 recommended to the states that they raise 5 million dollars in taxes. This was the first of many requisitions, none of which would yield much in the way of funds for the Treasury. Entries in the Treasury books
25. (1) E. James Ferguson, The Power of the Purse (Chapel Hill, 1961), p. 44. In developing this section, the author is indebted to this analysis of public finance in the Revolution. (2) See also JCC, 19:403-20, for a review of measures to finance the war.
reveal that "as long as Congress managed to pay its way with paper money, it received little financial support from the States.”26
The Continental Congress obtained some foreign loans, but they provided only a small amount of money before 1780. Moreover, none of that money was spent within the United States except what was drawn on the American commissioners in Paris to pay the domestic interest on the loan certificates. The early loans and subsidies from France and Spain were vital, however, in obtaining war materiel from French arsenals. Both foreign loans and state payments to the Treasury became important after Cornwallis surrendered at Yorktown. Until then, currency finance had sustained the war.
Congress was well aware that successful prosecution of the war depended upon maintaining the value of the Continental currency. In issuing paper money in 1775, the delegates had taken care to support its value by making each colony responsible for withdrawing from circulation an assigned quota of the total emission of the Continental paper money. Unfortunately, the states, under the compulsion of their own needs, returned that paper money to circulation as fast as they could. The Continental dollar began to show a slight decline in value in the fall of 1776. By early 1778 five paper dollars were worth only about one of specie.
Prices rose noticeably in 1778. Little more than two months after assuming the duties of Quartermaster General, Nathanael Greene in June expressed alarm at the department's expenses. Land transportation was costly, the Quartermaster General noted, and everything needed by the troops was selling at enormous prices. He had already drawn on the Treasury for 4 million dollars which, he assured Gouverneur Morris, "seems to be but a breakfast for the department."27 Prices were rising not only as a consequence of currency depreciation but also as a result of a booming war economy that was causing a real price inflation. Prices for domestic products and services rose as civilians and military supply agents competed for them, while the increasing scarcity of foreign goods in the market made all imports expensive. During the course of the war, prices on the domestic market rose from 50 to 100 percent over those charged in prewar days in terms of constant money value. They rose many times more in terms of Continental and state currencies.28
Beginning in 1779, the financial situation deteriorated rapidly. Before the end of the year 30 dollars in Continental money did not have the purchasing power of one specie dollar. The impact on all supply department
26. (1) Ferguson, The Power of the Purse, p. 35. (2) JCC, 19:408-09 (18 Apr 81).
27. George W. Greene, Life of Nathanael Greene, 3 vols. (New York, 1871), 2:82-83 (l Jun 78).
28. See Anne Bezanson, Prices and Inflation During the American Revolution (Philadelphia, 1951).
but particularly upon the Quartermaster's and the Commissary Departments, which had the largest share of responsibility for procuring supplies and services at the inflated prices in the domestic market, was severe. They complained that a lack of funds hampered their operations and attributed most of their difficulties to the depreciation of the currency. The want of "timely supplies" of money had delayed preparations for the campaign of 1779, charged Assistant Quartermaster General Charles Pettit.29 Had funds been furnished promptly, he insisted, they could have been used more effectively and would have greatly lessened the indebtedness of the department. Lack of funds, Greene claimed, deprived the Quartermaster's Department of opportunities to make contracts or gain credit. His deputies were obliged to employ innumerable agents to collect supplies from people who would have furnished them gladly if the currency had been on a more stable footing. Because more agents had to be used to procure supplies, expenditures were substantially increased, and the Quartermaster's Department consequently was suspected of being wasteful in its operations. The Commissariat was beset by the same difficulties, so much so that Commissary General Jeremiah Wadsworth despaired of keeping the troops alive.30
The Treasury, however, was in no condition to provide the funds requested by the supply departments. The depreciation of the currency combined with the delay of the states in complying with requisitions constantly left the Treasury with inadequate funds. John Mathews, a congressional delegate, was convinced that all embarrassments arose from the "backwardness of the states in responding to the requisitions of Congress.”31 Even when a supply chief received a warrant for funds, the Treasury usually could give him only part of it, and that weeks after he had received the order. In such a situation money "moulders away in dribs," lamented Assistant Quartermaster General Pettit, who handled the funds of the department in 1779.32 He was unable to provide deputies with adequate funds, though they kept messengers in constant attendance at his office for the purpose. All purchasing quartermasters and commissaries were much in debt and hard pressed by their creditors. The deputies pointed out that they would be able to obtain additional credit only by agreeing to new terms less favorable to the government, that is, by contracting not to fix the price of purchased articles until the time of payment. It therefore would be to the
29. ( 1 ) RG 11 , Papers of the Continental Congress, item 155, I :257 (Pettit to Pres of Cong, 17 Nov 79), National Archives. Hereafter cited as RG I I , CC Papers. (2) Letters to and from Maj Gen Nathanael Greene, 1778-1780, 5:28 (Pettit to Pres of Treasury Board, 19 May 79), American Philosophical Society. Hereafter cited as APS, Greene Letters.
30. RG 11, CC Papers, item 173, 4:243-44 (Greene to Pres of Cong, 12 Dec 79); item 78, 24:129 (Wadsworth to same, 24 Nov 79).
31. Burnett, Letters, 6:93-94 (to Greene, 20 May 81).
32. APS, Greene Letters, 8:86 (to Greene, 30 Oct 79).
interest of sellers to raise prices more rapidly than they might otherwise
Congress was greatly alarmed by the spiraling costs of the supply departments. In 1776 the expenditures of the Commissary and Quartermaster's Departments totaled 5,399,219 dollars. The following year they increased to 9,272,524 dollars, and in 1778 they more than quadrupled to 37,202,421 dollars. These increases were deceptive, Pettit maintained, for they reflected the depreciation of the currency; the sums fell far short of demands and were insufficient to "keep the machine in .motion.” Whatever the validity of Pettit's explanation-and some delegates agreed with him-a congressional committee in 1779 reported that expenditures of the two departments would amount to at least 200 million dollars that year.33
As governmental finances virtually collapsed, no explanation found more popular acceptance than alleged corruption in the supply departments and the payment of commissions to purchasing commissaries and quartermasters. It was commonly believed that they deliberately offered unnecessarily high prices for supplies in order to secure large commissions for themselves. Obviously, there were other explanations, not the least of which was the close tie between opposition to taxation and the Revolution, a tie that left the states reluctant to impose and collect taxes or to give that authority to Congress. The progressive depreciation of the currency eventually spawned the expression "not worth a Continental." Greatly alarmed by the state of affairs, Congress on 3 September 1779 decided to limit the issue of paper money to 200 million dollars and to halt emissions entirely when that amount was in circulation. Before the year ended, Congress thrust support of the war on the states by adopting the system of specific supplies.34
Supply by Expropriation
From the beginning of the war, the Continental Army in emergencies seized
whatever it needed. Such action gave rise to many claims for compensation.
It was not until 1779 that the Continental Congress, in response to a request
from Quartermaster General Nathaniel Greene, provided a ruling on such
claims. It then held that all articles commandeered for the use of the
troops during marches or encampments were to be paid for at a rate reflecting
their real worth.35
A clear case of how property was expropriated for the use of the Army
33. ( I ) RG 11, CC Papers, item 155, 1:257 (Pettit to Pres of Cong, 17 Nov 79). (2) JCC, 14:561-62 (7 May 79); 662 (28 May 79).
34. For a discussion of the system of specific supplies, see below, Chapter 8.
35. (1) JCC, 13:133 (2 Feb 79). Congress ruled against compensatory claims arising from the Army's trespass on private property from necessity, accident, or other causes, particularly from any wanton devastations committed by the troops. (2) RG 11, CC Papers, item 155, 1:83-85 (Greene to Pres of Cong, 1 Feb 79).
was that of Robert Temple. When the main Continental army lay at Cambridge in 1775, Temple owned a nearby farm. His orchard was cut down to build abatis; his nursery was cut down to make fascines; his fences were burnt for fuel; his houses and outhouses were used for barracks; and his walls were pulled down to get the stone to underpin the barracks. In laying the farmer's case before Congress for settlement early in 1779, Greene wrote that Temple had a just claim covered by the ruling of Congress. By the use of his property the government had saved the expense of building barracks and the cost of buying and hauling wood and stone to the troops.36
A far more pervasive expropriation occurred when the Continental Army was supplied by impressment, a practice common to European armies at the time. Under impressment, supplies needed by the troops were obtained by an armed force. The officer in charge of the impressment party gave a certificate to the owner of the seized goods which set .forth the amount of money due him. The officer could be either a supply agent-a quartermaster, commissary, or foragemaster-or an officer of the line assigned to impress duty. The certificate was a draft which the impressment officer drew upon the supply department normally responsible for furnishing the goods seized. Large numbers of such certificates were drawn on the Quartermaster's and Commissary Departments, which were so heavily dependent on domestic procurement. The supplies they commonly impressed were provisions, forage, teams, and wagons.
The need for transportation gave rise to the first authorization for impressment. On 4 November 1775 the Continental Congress recommended that the legislatures of the New England states empower Washington to impress wagons, horses, vessels, and other necessities for the transportation or march of his army. This power was to be delegated to the Quartermaster General.37 Subsequently, Washington was authorized to impress goods and services in numerous emergencies. Clearly, Congress believed that an emergency justified the use of impressment. It later urged that in the use of impressment every possible attention be paid to the laws of the states and the rights of individuals. When military operations became centered in the Middle Department and impressment was resorted to with increasing frequency, Congress requested the states to pass laws authorizing and regulating impressment by the Continental Army.38 Washington, however, was a reluctant user of impressment because of the animosity it aroused. Yet impressment was necessary to keep his army in the field. Seized horses and wagons moved Washington's troops from New York City in 1776 and permitted provisions to be transported to the troops at Valley Forge early in 1778. Beginning in 1779 and continuing until the
36. Ibid., item 155, 1:91-92 (to John Jay, 20 Feb 79). For another application of the ruling, see item 173, 4:317 (Greene to Udny Hay, 25 Dec 79):
37. JCC, 3:323-24.
38. Ibid., 10:273 (20 Mar 78).
contract system became effective throughout the country, supply chiefs increasingly had to rely on impressment. As prices skyrocketed with the rapid depreciation of the currency, they spent such funds as the Treasury granted them almost upon receipt.
The situation was no different in the Southern Army. When Maj. Gen. Nathanael Greene assumed command in 1780, he found that the troops would have to live upon the country for there was no money in his military chest. The Southern Army was usually in that predicament. When Brig. Gen. Anthony Wayne was ordered to march his detachment to the Southern Department, Congress in May 1781 authorized him to impress provisions and forage when necessary for his support.39 By that time the main Continental army in New York was also being supported by impressment. Quartermaster General Timothy Pickering assured his deputy William Keese that a warrant of impress would be the only means for providing forage to the troops left in that state when Washington moved south against Cornwallis. Nor did conditions improve for Picketing after Cornwallis surrendered. Early in 1782 when his deputy in Virginia, Richard Claiborne, complained of his difficulties, the Quartermaster General advised him that all the deputies were in arrears; it had never been possible to obtain from the Treasury sufficient funds to relieve them. Picketing himself was similarly handicapped. All Quartermaster business at posts in New York, when Washington's army was there, had been "effected almost wholly by persuasion and impresses." The money paid for services and supplies was "comparatively but as the dust in the balance.”40
Picketing could lecture his deputy on operating without funds, but Claiborne was in an impossible situation. In the course of the Yorktown campaign Governor Thomas Nelson of Virginia had vigorously and extensively used his authority to impress wagons, horses, tools, and everything else needed by the allied French and American forces. So oppressive did the burden of impressment become in Virginia that the inhabitants resisted by every means. Early in January 1782 Virginia enacted a law subjecting to imprisonment anyone who exercised the right of impressment under any authority other than that of legislative enactment by the state. Picketing could not believe the state had taken such action.41
Certificates were given not solely for impressed supplies. Frequently, supplies were "freely given to relieve the necessities of the Army," as the
39. (I) Greene Papers, vol. 2 (Thomas Polk to Greene, 10 Dec 80), William Clements Library. (2) Burnett, Letters, 6:93-94 (John Mathews to Greene, 20 May 81). (3) JCC, 20:516 (18 May 81).
40. RG 93, Revolutionary War Records, Letter Books of Col. Timothy Picketing, 82:81-82 (to Keese, 26 Aug 81); 83:34 (to Claiborne, 4 Jan 82), National Archives. Hereafter cited as RG 93, Picketing Letters.
41. (1) Washington Papers, 190:24 (2) Much detailed information on impressment for the Yorktown campaign is to be found in Calendar of Virginia State Papers, 11 vols. (Richmond, 1875-93), vols. I and 2, passim.
Board of War pointed out in seeking congressional action to regularize payment of certificates.42 In all cases the inhabitants, whether they gave their supplies freely or had them taken forcibly, found difficulty in getting paid for the certificates tendered for their supplies by impressment officers or by line officers drawing unauthorized certificates on the supply departments. Neither the supply departments nor the Treasury had funds for redeeming them. "After a tedious circuity of applications," the holder of a certificate was left unsatisfied. Worse yet, before 1780 certificates carried no interest, and the sum designated on the certificate for payment declined in real value as paper money depreciated. Public credit consequently suffered; by 1779 certificates were sold for “trifling considerations when persons could be found who had confidence enough in them to purchase.”43
With supplies being obtained largely through impressment and owners being compelled to accept certificates in payment, the states found it expedient to accept such certificates for state taxes levied for Continental purposes. In the summer of 1780, through the efforts of Pickering, Congress then began issuing certificates that were stated in specie values and bore interest until paid. In the general financial settlement after the war, certificate indebtedness was included as part of the federal debt. By that time, however, much of the debt resulting from certificates issued by Continental supply departments had been absorbed by the states. The states had themselves issued certificates to obtain supplies. No one can say how many certificates were issued during the war. E. James Ferguson estimates that those issued by Continental officers “must have approximated, in nominal amount, the entire sum of Continental currency.”45
Phases of Logistical Support
It is clear that the difficulties encountered by all supply departments in supporting the Continental Army after 1778 stemmed from the deteriorating financial situation. The supply crisis at Morristowri in the winter of 1779-80, the inability of the supply departments to make preparations for campaigns in the last years of the war, the fact that the troops continued to live on the verge of starvation in the midst of plenty, the need to rely on the trickle of supplies obtained by impressment when payment for supplies might have produced a more than adequate stream of support for the Army-all resulted from the collapse of Continental finances.
By contrast, the first phase of logistical support from 1775 through 1778 was characterized less by lack of funds, depreciation, and rising prices-
42. JCC, 13:276 (5 Mar 79).
44. (1) RG 93, Pickering Letters, vol. I 26 (to Pres of Cong, 12 Aug 80). (2) JCC, 17:463-65 (26 May 80); 760-61 (23 Aug 80).
45. Ferguson, The Power of the Purse, p. 63.
though these were beginning to have their effect before the end of the period-than by administrative failures stemming from the actions, and at times the inaction, of the Continental Congress. Its propensity for appointing deputies without delineating their authority or relationship with their supply chiefs contributed to controversies that hampered supply. In consequence, when both the Northern Army and the main Continental army were in retreat before the enemy in 1776, critical reports of supply deficiencies were laid before Congress. That body itself fled to Baltimore when the British approached Philadelphia. It was against this background that, early in 1777, Congress turned to reform and reorganization, particularly of the Commissary Department. After months of investigation that produced uneasiness among commissaries, if not their complete demoralization, Congress provided for a reorganization of the Commissariat in the midst of the campaign of 1777. This timing inevitably led to shortages of rations at Valley Forge.
Three months after the passage of this act, Congress was again fleeing from the British, moving this time from Philadelphia to Lancaster, Pennsylvania. Its mood was one of alarm and dissatisfaction with the Continental Army and its Commander in Chief. Having stubbornly clung to the act reorganizing the Commissariat despite growing criticism, Congress now neglected the most important staff post in the Army. It accepted Thomas Mifflin's resignation as Quartermaster General early in October 1777 and for the next four months made no effort to find a successor. The breakdown in transportation that contributed so much to the suffering at Valley Forge could have been avoided or at least mitigated only if there had been vigorous Quartermaster leadership, such as that later demonstrated by Nathanael Greene. This first phase of logistical support ended with Congress abandoning its reform efforts, failing to take any action to improve the Clothing Department, approving the appointment of Greene and Jeremiah Wadsworth, respectively, as Quartermaster General and Commissary General of Purchases, and leaving them both free to pursue their duties. When criticism of these supply departments later led to renewed reform efforts, they were impeded by the financial breakdown that marked the years after 1778.
Preparations and Sources of Supply
Early in the war the supply departments developed a common approach to preparing for campaigns. Supply chiefs and their subordinates made preparations for the next year's campaign while the troops lay in winter quarters. During these months quartermasters had tentage washed, aired, and stored, ready for spring; tentmakers repaired and made new tents; artificers overhauled boats and mended harnesses; quartermasters had horses "recruited," that is, fed and cared for to restore them to usefulness in another hard campaign; and the Quartermaster's Department let contracts for
a wide variety of articles to be delivered by April or early May, when the new campaign would begin. At the same time men and women made musket cartridges for the Ordnance Department, and artificers repaired and built wagons, repaired arms, and attended to the numerous items needed by the Artillery. Commissaries were equally busy, having begun their preparations in the late fall with the butchering of hogs. Under their direction, pork was pickled, barreled, and deposited in magazines with other provisions, while barrels and candles were produced by coopers and candlemakers. Washington had to wait for spring to see if the clothing, medical supplies, and ordnance that Congress had ordered abroad would arrive.
The domestic market provided the first and immediate source of supplies for the Continental Army. Provisions, forage, wagons, horses, and oxen were all available. In 1775 the colonies could produce some powder, muskets, and even cannon, but wartime demands quickly made it evident that imports would have to provide the bulk of the ordnance, ordnance stores, medical supplies, and clothing that the Continental Army would need. The Continental Congress turned to the West Indies and Europe for needed supplies.
In the early years of the war such imports were supplemented by the cargoes of ships captured by privateers and American naval vessels. While besieging Boston in 1775, Washington took it upon himself to fit out vessels to prey on British supply ships, and they met with considerable success. In the fall of 1775 Massachusetts and some of the other colonies began issuing letters of marque and reprisal to merchantmen. Under this authority they could make prizes of all enemy ships and cargoes captured at sea. Congress authorized privateers in March 1776. During the war some 2,000 or more privateers preyed on British commerce and obtained many needed supplies for the country. Their aggressiveness on occasion led to the seizure of goods being shipped on the government's account.
American naval vessels captured British supply ships and merchantmen as well as British warships. The first regulations covering such captures were enacted by Congress on 25 November 1775; Congress took for the public treasury half the value of a prize if it was a warship and two-thirds if it was a merchantman. This division caused so much discontent among naval personnel-the British government had a long-established policy of not participating in prize money-that Congress modified its position. In October 1776 it gave up its right to any part of a captured warship and claimed only half of the proceeds of captured merchantmen.46 Privateers retained all the proceeds of prizes taken by them. Such cargoes were sold either to private tradesmen or to state or Continental purchasing agents interested in acquiring ordnance, clothing, or other useful articles.
46. JCC, 3:374-75 (25 Nov 75); 6:913 (30 Oct 76).
To handle naval prizes brought into American ports, the Marine Committee of Congress appointed Continental Agents.47 As soon after a sale as possible, the latter made a just distribution of the proceeds among the officers and men who had captured the prize. The Continental Agents took the share of goods belonging to the Continental Congress from any merchantman seized by the Navy and forwarded goods that were needed by the Continental Army to the appropriate supply chief at the direction of the Board of War.
Size of Continental Forces
Until Charles H. Lesser edited the monthly strength returns of the Continental Army, such information was not readily available, for returns for the most part were unpublished and scattered in various manuscript depositories.48 In consequence, considerable reliance was placed on a report prepared in 1970 by Henry Knox, then Secretary at War until it became suspect. In response to a request from the House of Representatives, Knox estimated that about 396,000 men had enlisted in the Continental Army and the state militias from 1775-83.49 Of these, 232,000 served as regulars in the Continental Army and 164,000 were members of state militias. His yearly figures on the number of troops enlisted in the Continental Army were taken from official returns in the War Office, but they cannot be accepted at face value. The data on militia is even more suspect since it included a conjectural estimate of militia drawn into service. The strength figures for both the Continental Army and the militia need to be qualified because of the many short-term enlistments, the repeated reenlistments, and the fragmentary nature of the records.50 A total enlistment of 396,000 men during the Revolutionary War has been judged to be far too high. It has been estimated that of the total population, some 200,000 to 250,000 men were of military age, and that less than half of them, or about 100,000, actually bore arms, frequently under repeated enlistments.51
No reliable data exists, but the population of the thirteen colonies has been estimated at from 2 1/2 to 3 million. Of these inhabitants, perhaps 600,000
47. For a list of agents, see Peter Force, ed., American Archives, 4th (6 vols.) and 5th (3 vols.) series (Washington, 1837-53), 5th set., 2:1113-14. Hereafter cited as Force, Am. Arch.
48. Charles H. Lesser, ed., The Sinews of Independence: Monthly Strength Reports of the Continental Army (Chicago, 1976).
49. American State Papers, Class V, Military Affairs, 7 vols. (Washington, 1832-61), 1:14-19.
50. For further comment on the Knox report and the uses to which it was put, see Lesser,
The Sinews of Independence, pp. xxxiii-xxxv.
51. (1) Howard H. Peckham, The War for Independence (Chicago, 1958), p. 200. (2) T. Harry Williams estimates the actual number of men serving for any appreciable time at 150,000. Americans at War (Baton Rouge, 1960), p. 10.
were Negroes.52 Identification by race is not included in troop strength returns. Generally, the Negro soldier in the Revolution was apt to be unidentified by name in company rolls, being designated instead as "a Negro Man," or "Negro Name unknown." Though there are no reliable figures available on the number of Negroes in the Army, it has been estimated that 5,000 served "in the patriot forces."53 An initial policy of excluding Negroes from the Continental Army soon gave way, under the pressure of manpower deficiencies, to one of accepting their service. Except for adamant opposition in Georgia and South Carolina, most states, particularly in the North, enlisted Negroes, especially free Negroes.54 Though some participated in combat as infantrymen, they often served in a noncombat capacity as orderlies, waiters, or cooks. Frequently, too, they were assigned to duties in support of combat operations in the Wagon and Forage Departments, which were created within the Quartermaster's Department in 1777, and in the Commissary Department.
The army that Washington himself commanded was not large. Taking into account only the number of men present and fit for duty, his troops never exceeded 24,000. Only eight times during the war did the monthly strength figures exceed 20,000 men. The peak was September 1778 when the total was 23,552.55 Through 1779 Washington's fighting force ranged in size from 10,000 to 20,000 men, swelled during campaigns by militia and levies, that is, state troops drafted from the militia and called into Continental service to strengthen the Continental line. Washington's army dwindled after 1779 to less than 10,000 men and at times to considerably less than that number. In 1781 when Washington met with the Comte de Rochambeau to plan an allied operation against the British, he estimated that the Continental troops that could take the field would number 8,250 and could be increased to 10,250. When the allied siege of Yorktown was about to begin, Washington's army numbered less than 5,000.56
Even when the troops in the separate armies, on detachments, and at various posts are added to the troops in the main army, the total number for whom the supply agents had to make provision still was not large. Yet they found difficulty in making preparations. Strength figures for any given period were never firm. Although Congress specified in regulations the allowances
52. Don Higginbotham, The War of American Independence (New York, 1971), p. 389.
53. Benjamin Quarles, The Negro in the American Revolution (1961; Norton Library ed., New York, 1973), pp. ix, 74, 77.
54. Although South Carolina was unwilling to give slaves the status of soldiers even in a noncombat capacity, it used hired slaves in its military hospitals and boatyards. Slave labor was used extensively outside the Continental Army by the states to help build fortifications and to work in lead mines, tanneries, foundries, and other industries producing military supplies. See ibid., pp. 99-102.
55. Lesser, The Sinews of Independence, pp. 84-86.
56. ( I ) Fitzpatrick, Writings of Washington, 22:102-03 (return, 22 May 81). (2) Lesser, The Sinews of Independence, p. 208 (monthly return, 26 Sep 81).
of clothing, rations, forage, and the like to soldiers, officers, and staff personnel, all too often it inadvertently omitted whole groups from the regulation. These groups nonetheless had to be supported by the supply agencies. When militia were called out in a crisis to supplement the strength of the Continental Army, supply officers were greatly handicapped in ,their efforts to provide adequate support. To meet recurring emergency needs, they often were compelled to resort to hurried, improvised measures. Despite the fact that such improvisation was not unusual, they recognized the advantages-particularly the savings-that would accrue from advance planning. Unfortunately, they usually lacked the required funds for undertaking it, and Congress by its actions demonstrated no awareness of the problem. Neither in 1775 nor in later campaigns did Congress or the states show any appreciation of the fact that supplies could not be obtained on the spur of the moment.
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