The American colonies in 1775 were sparsely settled and largely rural in character. Only a few centers of population were large enough to be classed as cities. On the eve of the Revolution main roads connected the principal port towns. All important places in Connecticut, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island were connected by stage wagons. Such conveyances provided transportation between Boston and New York as well. Indian trails across New Jersey had been improved to provide routes between Philadelphia and New York City via Burlington and Perth Amboy or by way of Bordentown and New Brunswick. The existing roads, however, can scarcely be described as providing a good network of communications. They were little more than cleared paths which not infrequently fell into disrepair.
In this day of rapid transportation it is difficult to appreciate the slowness of eighteenth century travel. In 1771 it required two days for a traveler to cover the ninety miles between Philadelphia and New York using the new, improved wagon that an enterprising proprietor with considerable imagination had called "The Flying Machine."1 Four years later it took Washington ten days to travel from Philadelphia to Cambridge to take command of the Continental Army, although he was delayed by the courtesies extended to him en route. Express riders in the Revolutionary War could cover the distance between Philadelphia and Yorktown only by four to six days of hard riding.
The nature of the terrain accounted for much of the slowness of traveling. South of the flatlands of New Jersey the country widened out into a piedmont cut by numerous rivers that effectively impeded movement unless there was a ferry or a ford upstream. Much of the land was heavily forested, and there were many marshes and swamps. Against this background of inadequate roads and rugged terrain, the movement of troops and supplies had to be accomplished by the Quartermaster's Department.
As the war developed, the Continental Army was on the defensive. The British, by reason of their seapower, could land troops anywhere along the coast; to move inland, they could utilize the bays as well as the tidewater rivers to the fall line or head of navigation. The main Continental army
1. Seymour Dunbar, A History of Travel in America (New York, 1937), p. 184.
occupied a central position from which Washington could dispatch support against an enemy thrust in any direction. What Washington called his "line of communications" extended from posts on the Hudson River to Head of Elk on Chesapeake Bay. This line lay just above the head of navigation of the tidewater rivers and was therefore at a distance from possible British landings. Washington moved his forces along this route "to party the blows of the enemy."2
In supporting the main army, the Quartermaster's Department transported supplies along this line of communications, and the Commissary Department and the Forage Department established provision and forage magazines at designated intervals. In consequence, Head of Elk developed into a major transit point and magazine for provisions being drawn from the southern states to support troops coming from that area. Trenton, on the Delaware River, became a major provision magazine for forces moving along the line of communications from Trenton to the Highlands of the Hudson in New York. It early became policy to establish magazines remote from the seacoast and the shores of navigable rivers. The wisdom of this policy was underscored when the British seized stores at Head of Elk as they moved to occupy Philadelphia and when they destroyed supplies at the Peekskill post on the Hudson and at other vulnerable places. Carlisle, York, Reading, Lancaster, Allentown, and other places in Pennsylvania became deposit points from which the Quartermaster's Department transported supplies to support the troops on the line of communications.
The very center of the logistical problems of the Revolution lay in the transportation of men and supplies. The success or failure of the Quartermaster General was in part judged by the ease with which he enabled the troops to take the field and by his ability to keep them supplied during a campaign and after they settled in winter quarters. One of the rare occasions when Washington found the transportation provided for his army satisfactory was in the campaign of 1778. He praised Quartermaster General Nathanael Greene for the "great facility" with which he had enabled the main army and its baggage to move from its winter quarters at Valley Forge in pursuit of the enemy and, after the battle of Monmouth, to march to the Highlands of the Hudson.3 The prodigious feat of moving French and American forces from the Hudson southward 450 miles to Yorktown to confront Cornwallis, however, required the combined efforts of the Quartermaster's Department, the Superintendent of Finance, the governors of Virginia and Maryland, and a number of line officers who were closely supervised and directed by Washington.
2. (1) Wright, " Some Notes on the Continental Army, " William and Mary College Quarterly, 2d ser. 11 (1931): 204. (2) See also Oliver L. Spaulding, The United States Army in War and Peace (New York, 1937), p. 50.
3. Fitzpatrick, Writings of Washington, 12:277 (to Pres of Cong, 3 Aug 78).
The transportation demands of Washington's army in 1775 required no extensive organization. On 29 July Congress authorized Washington to appoint a wagonmaster general for his army. He selected John Goddard, who earlier in the year had been engaged in carting hogsheads of flints, casks of leaden balls, barrels of linen, and other supplies from Boston to Concord.4 He was appointed on 9 August, five days before Thomas Mifflin's appointment as Quartermaster General was announced. When Mifflin established his three-unit organization of the Quartermaster's Department to support the three divisions of the main army, Goddard became one of the two wagonmasters in the Cambridge unit. The other two units, at Roxbury and at Winter Hill and Prospect Hill, each employed one wagonmaster.
In 1775 the Quartermaster's Department established the policy of hiring wagons and drivers to provide transportation for the troops. Although Washington instructed Goddard to hire a sufficient number of teams for the service of the army's three divisions, none of the wagons were organic to any specific division. When a division required wagons, Goddard provided them, but only on order of its commanding officer or on order of the Commander in Chief.5
Although Washington's transportation needs were modest in the fall of 1775, quartermasters had so much difficulty hiring wagons that impressment appeared to be the only solution. In March 1776, however, when the army fortified the heights of Dorchester, a move that eventually forced the British to evacuate Boston, Mifflin did not need to resort to impressment. He was successful in obtaining a sufficient number of ox teams and carts to deliver entrenching tools, fascines, and hay screwed into large bundles of seven or eight hundredweight.6 Impressment was again avoided when the troops moved to New York, since the Massachusetts General Court agreed to provide 300 wagons to transport the army's military stores to Norwich, Connecticut. Water transportation completed delivery of the stores to New York. The wagons were allotted to the Commissary of Military Stores and to the Quartermaster's Department. A conductor accompanied each brigade of thirty teams transporting ordnance stores on the march to Norwich. To ensure proper delivery, a wagonmaster and some of the clerks of the Quartermaster's Department accompanied the wagons hauling that department's stores. Washington directed Goddard to institute a procedure for holding each driver accountable for the load he received in order to prevent any losses en route. A clerk recorded each driver's name and place of residence and required a bill of lading for the wagonload. The driver was
4. For Goddard's earlier carting services, see "Extracts from the Account Book of John Goddard of Brookline," Brookline Historical Publication Society, Publications no. 15 (1898), pp. 47-53.
5. Fitzpatrick, Writings of Washington, 3:411 (GO, 9 Aug 75).
6. James Thacher, A Military Journal During the American Revolutionary War (Boston, 1827), p. 40.
obliged to carry with him a copy of this bill of lading; the receiver of the supplies endorsed the back of the copy, thereby converting it into a certificate of delivery. Only by producing this certificate would the driver be paid for his services.7
Washington's army experienced no immediate shortage of transportation in New York. However, when the troops were forced to withdraw from Long Island at the end of August 1776, they left behind the wagons, carts, and horses that Quartermaster General Stephen Moylan had provided. Transportation demands then outran supply despite the Quartermaster General's efforts to obtain more wagons. The immediate need to remove stores from New York City to places of safety made the problem acute. Some subsistence, hospital, and artillery stores were hurriedly put on boats and shipped up the Hudson. Demands for wagons to move the army's baggage also increased.8
In this emergency the Quartermaster's Department resorted to impressment of wagons and horses in the city and also in neighboring areas. Brig. Gen. Hugh Mercer ordered Clement Biddle to obtain wagons in New Jersey. Since July Biddle had held a congressional appointment as deputy quartermaster general for the flying camp that Congress had established in New Jersey for the defense of the middle states. He had also been functioning in that capacity for the militia of Pennsylvania and New Jersey ordered to rendezvous at Trenton.9 Biddle impressed about 300 wagons, which arrived at the ferry opposite Fort Washington, New York, on 4 September. At about the same time, under authority of a warrant to impress issued to him by Washington, Maj. Gen. William Heath ordered Assistant Quartermaster General Hugh Hughes to hire, impress, and send to New York City all the wagons and teams that he could obtain in the state.10
Need for Organic Transportation
When Mifflin was reappointed Quartermaster General late in September 1776, the congressional committee inspecting the state of Washington's army conferred with him concerning supplies needed by the army. Mifflin promptly demanded the purchase of 200 wagons, with 4 horses each; 50 ox teams, with 2 oxen each; and 50 drays, with I horse each. He believed that hired and impressed teams could not be depended upon to move the army's
7. Fitzpatrick, Writings of Washington, 4:465-66 (to John Parke, 3 Apr 76).
8. Force, Am. Arch., 5th ser., 2:570-72 (Moylan to Pres of Cong, 27 Sept 76).
9. The flying camp was set up at Perth Amboy, N. J. The appeal Congress sent out for militia to report to the flying camp failed to bring the desired number. Those who did come stayed only briefly, and by the end of 1776 the flying camp had passed out of existence.
10. (1) Force, Am. Arch., 5th ser., 2:183 (Biddle to Heath, 5 Sep 76); 332-33 (Heath to Hughes, 14 Sep 76). (2) Fitzpatrick, Writings of Washington, 6:2 (to Heath, 1 Sep 76).
baggage and equipment. He also wanted a wagonmaster and deputy as well as 20 conductors on captain's pay.11 To each conductor he intended to assign the care of 10 wagons. To man this wagon service he proposed to detail soldiers from the line as wagoners when teamsters could not be hired. Congress authorized an allowance of one-eighth part of a dollar over and above the soldier's regular pay for this extra duty. It also provided Mifflin with 300,000 dollars for procuring the wagons, animals, and other supplies he deemed essential.12
Authorization of teams was more easily accomplished than their procurement. The transportation emergency in the fall of 1776 was eased only when the New York Convention came to the aid of the Quartermaster's Department by granting the Quartermaster General or his agents the power to impress in Dutchess and Westchester Counties such horses, wagons, and ox carts as were necessary for the use of the main army.13
Even before this crisis developed, Maj. Gen. Charles Lee had stressed the need for organic transportation. Writing from Charleston, South Carolina, where he had been sent to counter the British threat to that port, he recommended on 2 August that Congress make some "regular establishment for wagons." The purchase of one, if not two wagons, for each company of the Continental Army was necessary to permit expeditious movement. He added that "at present it is sometimes as much as impossible to march an hundred miles, although the fate of a Province depended upon it, as if the soldiers wanted legs."14
Congress seemed persuaded of the need. Early in December 1776 it directed the Board of War to purchase immediately ten or twelve covered wagons for the Artillery. Later that month it called for better regulation of the wagons in the Northern Army; Congress allowed two wagons to each company on a march, and one wagon to the colonel, one to the lieutenant colonel and major, one to the staff of a regiment, and one to the director of the hospital. Each wagon was to be drawn by two horses, except for the wagon allowed the colonel, which was to be drawn by four horses.15
Despite Washington's preoccupation with the need to infuse new courage into his army after its dismal retreat through New Jersey, he also was giving some attention to the transportation problem. Convinced that the great loss of supplies in 1776 had resulted from a lack of teams, Washington informed Congress on 20 December that he intended to have Mifflin provide each of his regiments with a sufficient number of wagons to enable the troops
11. Apparently Goddard had ceased to function as wagonmaster general long before the fall of 1776, for the records reveal no further evidence of his activities.
12. JCC, 5:839-40 (2 Oct 76).
13. Force, Am. Arch., 4th ser., 3:264 (22 Oct 76).
14. Ibid., 5th ser., 1:720 (Lee to Bd of War, 2 Aug 76).
15. JCC, 6:999, 1051-52 (2 and 30 Dec 76).
to move "from place to place differently from what we have done, or could do, this campaign."16 When the main Continental army settled into winter quarters at Morristown in January 1777, Washington announced in General Orders that 1 wagon with either 4 horses or 4 oxen would be allowed to 80 men. Two weeks later, on 31 January, he directed Mifflin to provide as many wagons as each battalion needed for its baggage, ammunition, and entrenching tools. He wanted the manufacture of special ammunition carts, and he suggested the production of light, strong, covered "chaises marine"—two-wheeled wagons—to carry artillery and regimental ammunition. His emphasis was on lightweight vehicles, for he did not want his army encumbered with heavy and unwieldy wagons.17
Manufacture of Wagons
In the winter of 1776-77 Mifflin turned his attention to the manufacture of ammunition wagons. Early in March 1777 he assured Washington that the ammunition wagons were coming in fast and that production of other types of wagons was well under way. Assistant Quartermaster General Hugh Hughes had advised Washington that 50 four-horse wagons being made at Pomfret, Connecticut, and 50 two-horse wagons being constructed at Fishkill, New York, would be ready by I April. Another 65 wagons would have to be contracted for, Hughes wrote, unless a company of wheelwrights could be raised at Peekskill to undertake the work. There was a possibility, however, of getting 20 to 30 built at Providence, Rhode Island. Since those undertaking production of the wagons looked to the Quartermaster's Department for the considerable amount of iron that was required, he had ordered about 30 tons brought from Hackensack, New Jersey, to Peekskill.18
Washington continued to supervise closely the preparation of wagon transportation. On 13 March, in planning a greater coordination of Continental Army forces, he warned Mifflin that his estimate of regiments in the Eastern and Southern Departments was too low and therefore his calculation of wagons and horses would necessarily have to be increased. Moreover, he noted that brigade wagons for carrying entrenching tools had been omitted from the estimate. These should be made, he instructed Mifflin, so that they could be locked to provide better security for the tools.19
In addition to receiving wagons produced under contract, the Continental Army from 1778 onward could also depend upon getting wagons
16. Fitzpatrick, Writings of Washington, 6:406 (to Pres of Cong, 20 Dec 76).
17. Ibid., 7:9 (GO, 14 Jan 77); 83 (to Mifflin, 31 Jan 77).
18. Washington Papers, 42:116 (Mifflin to Washington, 9 Mar 77); 40:81 (Hughes to Washington, 3 Feb 77).
19. Fitzpatrick, Writings of Washington, 7:283-84 (to Mifflin, 13 Mar 77).
produced by the Regiment of Artillery Artificers. Early in January 1778 Washington asked Brig. Gen. Henry Knox how many ammunition wagons could be made by the Artillery Artificers. The answer would enable the Quartermaster General to regulate wagon procurement accordingly. Knox indicated that the Artillery Artificers would not only prepare the traveling forges but would also make the covered ammunition wagons. He expected the Artillery Artificers at Carlisle and at Springfield, Massachusetts, to make about 200 of these wagons by spring.20
Although the Artillery Artificers made the wagons needed by the Artillery, the Quartermaster's Department procured the horses required for pulling the wagons and fieldpieces. In preparing for the campaign of 1778, Knox estimated that the Artillery would need 1,049 horses. He listed 106 fieldpieces requiring an average of 4 horses each; 50 ammunition wagons needing 5 horses each; and 60 ammunition wagons-for the spare ammunition-using 6 horses each. In response to an inquiry from Washington, Knox reported that he had given Deputy Quartermaster General Henry Lutterloh an estimate of the horses and harnesses that he required. This procedure was followed during the remaining years of the war.21
Estimates of horses and wagons needed for the next campaign were customarily prepared shortly after the troops went into winter quarters. The Quartermaster's Department then initiated contracts for wagons, and the Artillery Artificers began their production. At that time, too, Army wagons were repaired. Under Quartermaster General Greene's direction, subordinates sent in reports on the number of wagons with the various divisions of the Continental Army, tabulating those fit for service, those unfit and not worth repairing, and those that could be repaired by using parts from irreparable wagons.22
Establishment of the Wagon Department
During the campaign of 1776, the transportation duties of the Quartermaster's Department expanded greatly, yet there was no parallel development of an administrative organization within the department to direct these activities. The burden rested on the Quartermaster General or, in his absence, on the assistant quartermaster general. Washington thought the department ought to be "eased of part of the load which is at present thrown
20. Washington Papers, reel 46, ser. 4 (to Knox, 8 Jan 78, and Knox to Washington, same date). For the Regiment of Artillery Artificers, see Chapter 11.
21. (1) Ibid. (2) See also Papers of Henry Knox, RG LM-39, reel 8 (Pickering to Knox, 12 Feb 82, and reply, 13 Feb 82), National Archives.
22. RG 11, CC Papers, item 173, 4:185, 187 (Greene to Hay, 26 Feb 79, and to Capt John Starr, same date).
upon it." Quartermaster General Mifflin too often had to act "entirely out of his proper line."23
Mifflin included a provision for the creation of a subordinate Wagon Department, headed by a wagonmaster general, in his plan for the, reformation of the Quartermaster's Department which Washington submitted to Congress in March and which emerged as a regulation on 14 May 1777. The language of the resolution was none too clear, but Congress authorized the Quartermaster General to appoint a wagonmaster general, as well as a wagonmaster for each military department. Actually, this last officer in practice was called a deputy wagonmaster general. The deputy quartermaster general's office in the Northern Department employed a deputy wagonmaster general as well as five wagonmasters.24 A deputy wagonmaster general was also appointed in the main army. These officers received all horses, oxen, wagons, and carts that the Continental Army required, but they could neither purchase nor hire them without the express order of the Commander in Chief, the commanding officer of the military department, the Quartermaster General, or the deputy quartermaster general of a military department. The regulation establishing the Wagon Department remained in effect until 1780, when Congress drastically reorganized the Quartermaster's Department following the adoption of the system of specific supplies.
Obtaining an able officer to direct the work of the Wagon Department posed difficulties. As early as January 1777 Washington had advised the President of the Continental Congress that he was looking for a qualified person to serve as wagonmaster general. His search ended in failure, and he turned to Mifflin in the hope that he would have better success in filling this important post. Finally, on 14 May, he announced the appointment of Joseph Thornbury as wagonmaster general of the Continental Army.25 About a month later Congress, which was still inclined at this time to attach rank to staff positions, gave Thornbury the rank of a lieutenant colonel. It provided no rank for enlisted wagonmasters serving with the Army. On 22 August Washington ordered that they were not to assume the title of captain or major, as apparently they had began doing, but were to be known as division or brigade wagonmasters.26
23. Fitzpatrick, Writings of Washington, 7:65 (to Pres of Cong, 26 Jan 77).
24. (1) JCC, 7:357-59 (14 May 77). Congress set the pay of the wagonmaster general at 75 dollars a month and that of a wagonmaster or conductor at 40 dollars a month. (2) RG 11, CC Papers, item 173, 1:269-70 (personnel list, June 1780).
25. (1) Fitzpatrick, Writings of Washington, 7:65 (to Pres of Cong, 26 Jan 77); 36 (to Capt Edward Snickers, 19 Jan 77); 303-04 (to Mifflin, 19 Mar 77); 8:60 (GO, 14 May 77). (2) Washington's first candidate for the post refused on the grounds of advanced age, the second died before the letter offering the post arrived, and the third declined on the grounds of ill health.
26. (1) JCC, 8:476 (18 Jun 77). (2) Fitzpatrick, Writings of Washington, 9:122 (GO, 22 Aug 77).
Since Mifflin resigned on 8 October and then refused, despite Congress' orders, for all practical purposes to function as a caretaker Quartermaster General in the winter of 1777-78, an adequate Wagon Department failed to materialize. Thornbury served only seven months and left no impress on the department. Deputy Quartermaster General Lutterloh tried, but without success, to provide the wagons needed by the main army. The breakdown of transportation was such, according to the congressional committee writing on 12 February from Valley Forge, that "almost every species of camp transportation is now performed by men, who without a murmur, patiently yoke themselves to little carriages of their own making, or load their wood and provisions on their backs."27
Procedures and Abuses
The many General Orders issued by Washington during 1777 illuminate both the procedures and the abuses practiced in the Wagon Department. Shortly after Congress adopted its first regulatory plan for the Quartermaster's Department, Washington, on 8 June, directed the Quartermaster General to settle with the brigadiers the proper allowance of wagons for their respective brigades. He was to furnish the wagons to make up any deficiency immediately.28
The Commander in Chief soon directed that the wagonmaster general receive a copy of at least that part of the order of march that related to his department. Washington advised him not to quit the encampment from which the army was to move until the wagons were in motion and the wagonmasters were with their assigned brigades of wagons. He expected the wagonmaster general and his deputies to see that a suitable distribution of forage was made and that horses were properly fed and managed. He charged that the carelessness of the wagonmasters in feeding and managing the horses had caused great numbers to founder and die.29 Washington directed that wagonmasters give strict orders to the wagoners forbidding their riding army horses too hard, regardless of the circumstances. Offenders were liable to immediate punishment by order of any commissioned officer who saw them. He instructed wagonmasters to permit no women to get into the wagons unless they had authorization in writing from the brigadier. When men fell sick on the march, they were not to be put into heavily loaded wagons but were to be left to be taken by empty wagons which were to follow in the rear.30
Washington's orders directed that on all marches the wagonmasters
27. RG 11, CC Papers, item 33, pp. 128-39 (to Pres of Cong, 12 Feb 78).
28. Fitzpatrick, Writings of Washington, 8:202 (8 Jun 77).
29. Ibid., 8:348, 498 (4 and 29 Jul 77).
30. Ibid., 8:348-49, 412- 13, 456 (4, 15, and 23 Jul 77).
were to restrain the wagoners from seizing or destroying fences, grain, or grass unless these items had been appropriated by the Quartermaster General or his deputy so that owners might receive restitution. In this instance, as in others, orders were not executed, for in less than three weeks the Commander in Chief had to reiterate that wagoners were to stay with their horses to prevent any damage to corn, flax, or other crops. If damage occurred through their negligence, they would be severely punished.31 Early in July 1777 Washington directed wagonmasters to see to it that the head of one wagon followed closely on the tail of another when wagons were on the move. But before the end of the month he observed that wagonmasters often were not with the wagons committed to their charge and, permitted them to proceed in a straggling, disorderly state. It was their duty, he repeated, to be constantly with the wagons, riding back and forth to see that they moved in good order.32
There was an almost constant emphasis on the need for officers and men to divest themselves of unnecessary baggage. The experience of the last campaign, Washington observed in May, had abundantly shown the "absurdity of heavy Baggage" and the disadvantages resulting from it. On a day of battle the baggage wagons were to be driven off the field. When he received intelligence that enemy troops were readying themselves for action, Washington in September again "strictly enjoined" officers and men to pack up and send off all spare baggage until the battle was over. Since a "very imperfect obedience" had been paid to earlier orders, he now became more ,specific and ordered that "officers should retain their blankets, great coats, and three or four shifts of under cloaths, and that the men should besides what they have on, keep only-a blanket, and a shirt a piece, and such as have it, a great coat." All trunks, chests, boxes, other bedding, and clothes were to be sent off in the baggage wagons. He hoped that no one would have "so little sense of propriety" as to deem this measure a hardship. It would be folly, he pointed out, to hazard the loss of the army's baggage for the sake of "a little present convenience." As the next year's campaign approached, Washington was still wrestling with the baggage problem.33
The detailed attention that Washington felt obliged to give to the Wagon Department makes clear that Thornbury was an ineffectual wagonmaster general. That there was a need for improvement. was emphasized also in suggestions offered by Deputy Quartermaster General Lutterloh, who headed the Quartermaster's Department in camp while Mifflin lingered at Reading and Philadelphia in the fall of 1777. Lutterloh observed that "wherever our Baggage marches the Soldiers and Waggoners plunder all houses & destroy every thing." He pointed out that it was the duty of the
31. Ibid., 8:349, 446 (4 and 21 Jul 77).
32. Ibid., 8:348, 498 (4 and 29 Jul 77).
33. Ibid., 8:129 (26 May 77); 9:181, 192-93 (5 and 7 Sep 77); 11:161-62 (27 Mar 78).
wagonmaster general or his deputies to prevent such actions. Either the wagonmaster general or his deputy ought always to remain with the army, for it was his duty to keep the wagons and wagonmasters in order on the march. At the end of the year Lutterloh again stressed that it was the responsibility of the wagonmaster general to supervise his subordinates. He wrote that the wagonmaster general should examine the condition of the teams by going himself to the divisions and having the wagons and horses paraded for that purpose, and that he should discipline wagoners who neglected their animals or who were absent without leave. This discipline, Lutterloh held, would prevent many excesses and robberies. All wagonmasters and conductors, he declared, should be ordered to see that their horses were well fed and cleaned, for their neglect of the animals had vastly increased expenditures for horses.34
Appointment of James Thompson
Washington fully appreciated the need for reform in the Wagon Department. Apparently there had been no wagonmaster general with the main army for some time, for early in 1778 he advised the committee of Congress sent to the camp at Valley Forge that a wagonmaster general was a necessary officer. There would be a great saving to the public, he maintained, if the duties of the office were discharged by an active, careful man, who would make "a judicious choice of deputies, and not be himself above his business, as has been the case with most of those heretofore in this line. They have been apt to indulge fantastical notions of rank and importance; and assume titles very inapplicable to their stations." For the future he wanted no rank allowed to any of them "from the highest to the lowest."35
Although Washington asserted that he had no wagonmaster general, he did at the time have an officer, James Thompson, acting in that capacity. No information has been uncovered on his background; it is not known whether he had served as a deputy in the Wagon Department with the main army or how and by whom he was appointed. Thompson wrote that he assumed the duties of acting wagonmaster general on 22 December 1777. At that time he found no account books of any kind in his office, and no returns had been made to the Wagon Department of personnel appointed by the deputy quartermasters general. In consequence, he was unable early in 1778 to provide the committee of Congress at Valley Forge with a list of all personnel in the Wagon Department. The best he could do was to submit a return of such personnel with the main army.36
34. Washington Papers, 56:120 (postscript to missing letter, Lutterloh to Washington, 19 Sep 77); 63:117 (Lutterloh to same, 25 Dec 77).
35. Fitzpatrick, Writings of Washington, 10:390-91 (to committee, 29 Jan 78).
36. RG 11, CC Papers, item 155, 1:385 (Thompson to committee, 4 Feb 78).
When Maj. Gen. Nathanael Greene became Quartermaster General in March 1778, he retained the services of James Thompson as wagonmaster general. He served ably in that capacity until the reorganization of the Quartermaster's Department in 1780. By that time the Wagon Department had expanded to include personnel not only with the main army and in the military departments but also with the offices of at least some other deputy quartermasters general assigned to districts. In addition to the wagonmaster general, there were 11 deputy wagonmasters general; 108 enlisted wagonmasters, 3 wagonmasters taken from the line, and 2 hired civilian wagonmasters; 256 enlisted wagoners, 104 wagoners taken from the line, and 272 hired civilian wagoners; as well as 45 hired packhorsemasters and 26 hired packhorsemen. All were employed on salary; in 1780 the monthly payroll amounted to 72,371 dollars.37
Proposals for an Enlisted Wagon Corps
Providing enough wagoners was a critical problem. Mifflin had hired civilian wagoners in 1775; in the fall of 1776 he proposed that whenever a sufficient number could not be hired, soldiers be detailed from the line. When the 1776 campaign ended, Washington, in January 1777, directed the Quartermaster General to hire wagoners from among the inhabitants and not employ soldiers. The following month he added that other wagoners and drivers were to be engaged specifically for the Artillery. He ruled that all such persons would be considered in actual service during their time of engagement and would be thereby excused from duty in the militia.38
Mifflin, however, was not successful in hiring civilian teamsters and had to use soldiers. Washington lamented that this action weakened his army's strength, but there was no other solution. When Maj. Gen. Israel Putnam refused to detail soldiers to act as teamsters for the Artillery, Washington in July 1777 overruled him, pointing out that it would never do to convert into wagoners artillerymen who were so much needed with their fieldpieces. Other soldiers, he argued, could be spared more easily for this service. He therefore ordered Putnam to detail to the Artillery the required number of soldiers qualified to be wagoners. Concluding that the Quartermaster's Department was abusing the authority granted to it to take wagoners from the line, Washington put a stop to the practice in January 1778, but he had to reverse his position during the campaign of that year.39
Some officers in the Quartermaster's Department had proposed solutions to the problem of obtaining wagoners. When Mifflin was absent in
37. Washington Papers, 161:77 (Memo of Estimate of Expenses of Quartermaster Generals's Dept, 1780).
38. Fitzpatrick, Writings of Washington, 7:77 (GO, 29 Jan 77); 143 (GO, 13 Feb 77).
39. Ibid., 8:451-52 (to Putnam, 22 Jul 77); 10:309 (to Lutterloh, 15 Jan 79).
Philadelphia in 1776, Assistant Quartermaster General Hughes was left to administer the department. By the end of that year he concluded that detailing soldiers from the line to serve as wagoners was both unsatisfactory and wasteful. He proposed to Washington that teamsters be enlisted for a period of at least a year. The result would be better care of teams and wagons. As long as teamsters were detailed from the line and knew they could return to their regiments when they chose, they felt, he argued, no responsibility for their teams. The consequent lack of care given to the horses, Hughes pointed out, rapidly diminished their usefulness.40 No response came from Washington, who at the time was engrossed in the campaign.
A year later Deputy Quartermaster General Lutterloh also suggested reform. All the ruin of the Continental Army's horses, he charged, stemmed from the practice of engaging teamsters for short periods of time. He proposed to enlist them for the duration of the war, grant them the same clothing provided to soldiers, and enforce the wearing of a "plate" on the breast with such identifying markings as U.S. Wagoner for Stores, for Commissary, for Forage, for Artificers, or for Division.41
Although Lutterloh's suggestion did not result in the formation of a teamsters corps enlisted for the duration of the war, a report in the summer of 1778 showed the names of some 200 wagoners with the Army, some enlisted for 3 years, some for I year, and a few for 6 months. The latter did not receive any clothing.42 The difficulty of obtaining teamsters led Washington to authorize Quartermaster General Greene to direct the wagonmaster general or his deputies to enlist wagoners from the militia then in service. On the recommendation of James Thompson, Washington also ordered that all soldiers discharged from the hospital by the Director General or surgeons and judged unfit for camp duty were to be sent to the Quartermaster General, who was to employ as wagoners those who were fit for this duty.43 Considering the hard duty performed by wagoners, it is doubtful that many were obtained from this source.
As preparations for the campaign of 1779 were being made, Thompson surveyed conditions in his department. He found that most of the Continental teams with the Continental Army were still being driven by wagoners taken from the line. Like his predecessors, he thought this practice would be fatal to many teams. Men from various parts of the country had been enlisted as wagoners for a year, as Hughes had suggested in 1776, but a year's enlistment was so short that it expired just as the wagoner had learned his duties. Moreover, the greater inducements offered for enlisting in the line prevented the
40. Force, Am. Arch., 5th ser., 3:1475-76 (Hughes to Washington, 29 Dec 76).
41. Washington Papers, 63:117 (Lutterloh to Washington, 25 Dec 77).
42. RG 11, CC Papers, item 173, 4:353 (return, August 1778).
43. (1) Fitzpatrick, Writings of Washington, 12:290 (GO, 7 Aug 78); 13:248 (GO, 12 Nov 78). (2) Greene, Life of Nathanael Greene, 2:409 (Greene to Washington, 11 Nov 78).
Wagon Department from obtaining reenlistments. Thompson therefore proposed that wagoners be enlisted for the duration of the war and be offered the same bounty that soldiers were given.44
General Greene considered the duty of a wagoner both laborious and disagreeable, and he had observed that wagoners were often subjected to abuse from officers of the line who mistakenly thought anyone had a right to correct a wagoner. The bounty then being given, that is, a suit of clothes, plus wages which amounted to 10 pounds a month did not attract teamsters. They could get easier and more agreeable work in the civilian market, where merchants offered 16 to 20 pounds a month. Greene recommended to Washington that wagoners be enlisted for the duration of the war and that, in addition to the usual bounty given to men enlisted as soldiers, they be given the same wages that merchants offered to wagoners engaging for annual service. The cost of this bounty, he admitted, was considerable, but the expense of undertaking annual enlistments and supporting wagon conductors engaged in wagoner recruitment was equally so. Moreover, the department was currently always distressed by its lack of wagoners and the uncertainty of recruitment.45
In forwarding this proposal to the Committee of Conference, Washington merely stressed granting the bounty. Considering the "high encouragements" wagoners already had, however, he "was not sanguine of success." Concerned about the wagon service, Greene sent Wagonmaster General Thompson to Philadelphia to provide any information that the committee or Congress might require.46 On the basis of the committee's report, Congress on 16 March 1779 authorized the Commander in Chief to enlist wagoners for the duration of the war in such numbers as he judged necessary. In addition to receiving the existing monthly pay, clothing, and subsistence allowed to wagoners, men enlisting as wagoners were to receive the same bounties granted to volunteers enlisting in Continental battalions for the entire war. Congress also directed the Quartermaster General to establish regulations for this corps of wagoners, appoint a paymaster and muster-master for the corps, and make a return of the names of wagoners to the Board of War.47
Greene was distressed by these resolutions, which offered so much less in inducements to wagoners than what he had proposed and left him no leeway to bargain for their services. Fixing the wages of the wagoners at 10 pounds per month, as the resolutions did, was wholly inadequate, he informed Washington, for no man could be engaged for that pay. Given the fluctuating state of the country's money, no one would engage for a long period unless
44. APS, Greene Letters, 4: 100 (to Greene, 24 Feb 79).
45. RG 11, CC Papers, item 173, 4:177-80 (Greene to Washington, 24 Feb 79).
46. (1) Ibid., item 155, 1:107 (Greene to James Duane, 9 Mar 79). (2) Fitzpatrick, Writings of Washington, 14:158 (to committee, 27 Feb 79).
47. JCC, 13:320-21 (16 Mar 79).
the terms of his pay were linked to changes in the buying power of the currency. What Greene had sought was flexibility to adjust the wagoners' wages to those that teamsters were getting for annual service in the civilian market.
The appointment of a muster-master and a paymaster for the wagon service, Greene continued, was impossible. The wagoners had such varied duties, he argued, and they were generally so detached that they could not be mustered and paid in the way directed by Congress without the appointment of as many deputies as there were divisions in the army in which the wagoners might serve. This expense would be useless and unnecessary. In the past the names of all wagoners and the time and conditions of their enlistments were registered in the wagonmaster general's office. The abstracts for payments were made out by the wagon conductors and presented to the wagonmaster general for inspection; if they were correct, he wrote orders requesting payment on the abstracts. The auditor of accounts in the Quartermaster office examined the abstracts and approved them for payment if he determined them to be correct. The wagonmaster general, Greene argued, was the best judge of the qualifications of wagoners and consequently the best judge of their fitness for service. On 24 March Washington forwarded Greene's recommendations for amendment of the resolutions to Congress and hoped for "an early determination."48
On 17 April 1779 Congress repealed its earlier resolutions. It then directed the Commander in Chief to enlist a competent number of wagoners for nine months or for the duration of the ensuing campaign. It further directed that the enlisted wagoners were to receive a suit of clothes as a bounty and no more than 40 dollars per month. The Quartermaster General was to establish such regulations for the conduct, mustering, and pay of the wagoners as the Commander in Chief judged expedient and approved. These regulations and the number of wagoners enlisted were to be reported from time to time by the Quartermaster General to the Board of War.49 The hope of a wagon corps enlisted for the duration of the war was lost, never to be revived again during the Revolution.
So little time now remained before the opening of the campaign that Greene appealed for Washington's instructions. For Washington's consideration, he enclosed an estimate of the number of wagoners that would be required-a total of 1,071.50 The reduced state of the main army made it im-
48. (1) Washington Papers, 101:62 (Greene to Washington, 24 Mar 79). (2) Fitzpatrick, Writings of Washington, 14:289-90 (24 Mar 79).
49. JCC, 13:467-68 (17 Apr 79). On 13 April the Board of War had brought in a report on Greene's letter. Congress agreed to part of it, postponed another part, and recommitted a third part. See 13:444.
50. The breakdown of Greene's estimate of 1,071 wagoners was as follows. Each brigade had 4 regiments, each of which had 4 wagons. Each brigadier general was allowed one wagon.
possible for Washington to furnish that many wagoners from the line. There was no alternative but to engage as many wagoners as possible on the best terms that Greene could get. Since the Quartermaster General was going to Philadelphia, Washington on 19 April directed him to report to Congress or the Board of War on this decision and the necessity that dictated it. As a result, on 23 April Congress empowered the Quartermaster General to employ as many wagoners as were needed, upon the best terms that he could obtain, provided they were approved by the Commander in Chief.51 Congress thereby eliminated its earlier restrictions on the wages of wagoners and, after two months of consideration, left the wagon service about where it was at the beginning of the war.
That the wage proposals of Congress had been unrealistic became evident when the various deputy quartermasters general set to work directing the enlistment of wagoners in the spring of 1779. Nehemiah Hubbard in Connecticut, still attempting to follow the congressional guidelines, indicated that he would allow 60 dollars per month without clothing, or 40 dollars per month plus one complete suit of wagoner's clothes, at the expiration of the nine-month tour of duty if the wagoner could produce a certificate of faithful performance of duty from the quartermaster of the division in which he had served. If men could not be obtained on these terms, Hubbard proposed to raise the pay 10 dollars a month, but the prospects of engaging wagoners in Connecticut appeared to him to be "none of the best."52
Wagoners proved so difficult to engage that Deputy Quartermaster General John Mitchell at Philadelphia sent about thirty teams to camp without drivers. Greene ordered that if he sent any more driverless teams, Wagon-
There was one wagon in each brigade for entrenching tools and another for spare ammunition. Two drivers were allowed for the traveling forges, and each brigade was also allowed 4 commissary wagons and 4 forage wagons, making a total of 29 wagons for each brigade. The 19 brigades of the Continental Army, excluding the Southern Army, required a total of 551 teams. The Artillery needed 230 drivers—one wagoner for each of the 38 fieldpieces and the 38 ammunition wagons for them with the brigades, as well as one driver for each of the 30 fieldpieces in the Artillery Park and the 30 ammunition wagons for them; the Artillery total also included one wagoner for each of the 50 spare ammunition wagons, 8 baggage wagons, 6 commissary wagons, and 20 forage wagons, plus 6 wagoners for the traveling forges and 4 for the wagons of the Artillery Artificers. In addition, the Cavalry and Marechaussee required a total of 28 drivers; the generals and staff of Washington's army required another 47 wagoners. The main army also needed 40 teamsters for the wagons carrying quartermaster stores, 50 for commissary wagons, 60 for the forage wagons, and 20 wagoners for the wagons hauling hospital stores; to this total of 170 wagoners Greene added 10 wagoners for the Corps of Engineers and Sappers and 15 more to drive the wagons carrying the tools and baggage of the artificers of the line. Washington Papers, 104:14-15 (to Washington, 19 Apr 79).
51. (1) Fitzpatrick, Writings of Washington, 14:410-11 (to Greene, 19 Apr 79). (2) JCC, 14:502-03 (23 Apr 79).
52. RG 93, Misc Numbered Docs 24064, fols. 5-6 (Hubbard to assistant deputy quartermaster general at Danbury, 27 Apr 79).
master General Thompson was to return them to Mitchell for use in Pennsylvania. In mid-June 1779, when the British had already moved against Stony Point and Verplanck's Point on the Hudson, the Quartermaster's Department was still trying to engage wagoners to drive the wagons of Washington's staff and the wagons not attached to any regiment. Such was the shortage that Greene wrote Deputy Quartermaster General Udny Hay at West Point to send all the wagoners employed on the east side of the Hudson to Middlebrook, New Jersey; all business would come to a halt until they arrived.53 Despite all efforts, there never were enough wagoners hired and, as in the past, men continued to be detailed from the line. In the summer of 1779 Greene proposed to the wagonmaster general that soldiers detailed as wagoners receive half the pay allowed to the wagoners in addition to their regular pay. They were not, however, to draw any clothing from the quartermaster store unless the cost was deducted from their pay.54
Wagons on the Supply Lines
Providing wagons and wagoners for the Continental Army in the field was only part of the transportation function of the Quartermaster's Department. Transporting supplies to the troops was equally important and was beset by many difficulties. A major problem was the lack of a good system of roads. Horse-drawn wagons made slow progress over poor roads, and those drawn by ox teams moved even slower. In many areas snow-packed roads in winter brought transportation of supplies to a virtual halt until sleds could be substituted for wagons, and spring thaws caused wagons to become mired in mud.
The Quartermaster's Department early in the war established a policy of using boats wherever possible in lieu of wagons for transporting supplies. With the British Navy on patrol, however, the use of coastal water routes was much restricted, and the bulk of military supplies had to be hauled laboriously in wagons. The poor condition of roads was a contributory cause to the breakdown in transportation that brought such suffering at Valley Forge. So bad were the roads in February 1778 that not a single wagon carrying provisions was able to reach camp. In March the wagons of Berks County in Pennsylvania were constantly employed in carrying flour and forage to the Schuylkill River for shipment by water to camp, for the roads to Valley Forge were still impassable for wagons carrying a full load. As late as the end of April, Col. Benjamin Flower, Commissary General of Military Stores, found the road between Lebanon and Carlisle in such poor condition that wagons carried no more than two-thirds of a load. He called on the
53. APS, Greene Letters, 6:66 (to Thompson, 14 Jun 79); 6:65 (to Cox, same date); 6:69 (to Hay, 14 Jun 79).
54. RG 11, CC Papers, item 173, 2:243 (Greene to Thompson, 2 Jul 79).
SUPPLY TRAIN EN ROUTE TO VALLEY FORGE
Pennsylvania Executive Council to direct the road supervisors to make repairs.55
In 1775 the Quartermaster's Department established the policy of hiring wagons and drivers to haul supplies from magazines and posts along supply routes to Army encampments. This policy was continued throughout the war. On orders of the Commissary General of Stores and Purchases, John Goddard—who later that year became wagonmaster general—provided wagons to haul provisions to the troops stationed about Boston. He submitted a weekly return to the Commander in Chief of the number of teams in service and the work they had performed during the preceding week. Because of the scarcity of forage in the area, Goddard, in contracting with wagon owners, called upon them to provide the forage needed by their teams. The prices paid for the hire of wagons took into account the cost of forage incurred by the owners. Often quartermasters detained hired wagons long beyond the time for which the owners had contracted to serve, and their forage supply became exhausted. In that situation the owners resorted to the public forage magazines to feed their teams. Congress formalized this procedure in the
55. (1) Pennsylvania Archives, 1st ser. (Philadelphia, 1852-56), 6:252 (Blaine to Pres Thomas Wharton, 12 Feb 78); 450 (Flower to council, 28 Apt 1778). (2) RG 11, CC Papers, item 155, 1:389 (James Young to Lutterloh, 2 Mar 78).
regulation of 14 May 1777; such teams were supplied upon the basis of a written order.56 Before the wagonmaster signed a discharge, however, he directed the foragemaster to endorse on it the quantity and quality of forage that had been consumed. The cost of such forage was then deducted from the money due the owner. This procedure was retained throughout the war.
Almost from the beginning of the war the Quartermaster's Department encountered trouble with teamsters on the supply lines. As the main army was preparing to move to New York, Washington learned that some drivers had dropped their wagonloads of supplies on the road at Waltham, Massachusetts. He ordered Goddard to see that these supplies were forwarded immediately. This incident undoubtedly occasioned his order that a wagonmaster and clerks of the Quartermaster's Department accompany quartermaster stores to New York.57 Conductors protected the transportation of ordnance stores to New York. Throughout the war wagoners often abandoned Continental Army supplies on the road in favor of more lucrative employment by sutlers and private merchants, or because payment for their service was not promptly made by the Quartermaster's Department. Early in March 1778, for example, John Chaloner, a deputy commissary of purchases, was much concerned about getting provisions to the camp at Valley Forge. He wrote to James Young, Pennsylvania's wagonmaster general, "I am just now informed that a number of County wagons coming from Lancaster with flour, have laid down their loads on the Horse Shoe road, and gone home, a practice so destructive to the publick weal as this is, I doubt not you will do your utmost to prevent."58 There were other abuses as well. Brig. Gen. John Sullivan, writing from Albany in May 1776, complained bitterly that "every kind of abuse is practised there that men long versed in villainy could devise." He had discovered that at Stillwater, New York, wagoners had drawn off the pickling brine from a number of barrels of pork to lighten their loads, regardless of the fact that the pork would inevitably spoil before it reached the troops in Canada.59
The very methods of operation followed by wagoners on the supply lines produced abuses, as Deputy Quartermaster General Abeel reported in the
56. The order had to be signed by one of the following: the Commander in Chief, the commanding officer of the military department or of the post where the magazine was located, the Quartermaster General or the deputy quartermaster general of the military department or one of his assistants, or the wagonmaster general or any other wagonmaster. JCC, 7:356 (14 May 77); 17:615-35 (15 Jul 80).
57. Fitzpatrick, Writings of Washington, 4:465-66 (to Assistant Quartermaster General Parke, 3 Apr 76).
58. (1) Pennsylvania Archives, 1st ser., 6:320 (2 Mar 78). (2) When wagoners in the Northern Department refused to carry supplies until their wages were paid, one officer complained to General Schuyler in the summer of 1776 that it was "shameful that publick officers are obliged to give their notes for money on interest to carry on the service." Force, Am. Arch., 5th ser., 1:795 (4 Aug 76).
59. Ibid., 4th ser., 6:502 (to Washington, 18 May 76).
summer of 1778. Some wagonmasters only drove their wagons 9 or 10 miles a day, even though, he asserted, they could easily cover 20. Moreover, if they arrived at a magazine early in the afternoon, instead of cutting straw and drawing their fodder and provisions in readiness for an early start in the morning, they spent the greater part of the next day performing these duties and thus were able to travel only 3 or 4 miles. In addition, they habitually stopped at every tavern on the road. To overcome these practices, Abeel had made agreements with wagonmasters that they would travel a steadily paced 20 miles a day or face having their wages reduced. This was the only way to "compel them to do their duty." Such agreements, he insisted, were easier on the horses, for wagoners who loitered at taverns en route often then moved on "as if the Devil was Driving them." Such a practice ruined good horses, particularly when the wagoners did not give the animals time to cool before feeding them.60
Although hiring wagons on the supply lines was considered the most desirable procedure, impressment was resorted to more and more after military operations became centered in the Middle Department. In 1777 the demand for wagons in Pennsylvania by both the state and the main Continental army was so great that the cost of hiring them was forced upwards. To check the rising cost, Congress set a fee of 30 shillings a day for a wagon, four horses, and driver. Quartermasters, however, found it very difficult to hire wagons at this low rate. In December 1777 President Thomas Wharton of the Pennsylvania Executive Council suggested that the state's delegates "hint to Congress- that it allow a wagon owner 45 or 50 shillings per day. In view of the high costs of wagon maintenance, some owners, he added, considered even that price too low, particularly since private merchants offered them 3 and 4 pounds a day. Moreover, not only was the current Continental pay inadequate but owners were not being paid.61
In the face of the difficulty in hiring wagons, the Quartermaster's Department resorted to impressment during the campaign of 1777. Impressment, however, aroused resentment, and its repeated use led the inhabitants of Pennsylvania to attempt to conceal their wagons when military press parties were sent out to bring supplies to Valley Forge.62 Impressment worked particular hardships on those inhabitants who lived close to the camp, for they were repeatedly called upon to furnish wagons and teams. Others, more distantly situated, escaped this burden entirely.
Late in December 1777 the Pennsylvania Executive Council attempted to equalize this burden and make its impact uniform on all the state's inhabi-
60. Letter Book of Col James Abeel, Deputy Quartermaster General, 10 May-10 September 1778 (to Greene, 7 Jun 78), Manuscript Division, National Archives. Hereafter cited as Abeel Letter Book.
61. Pennsylvania Archives, 1st ser., 6:116-17 (Wharton to delegates, 20 and 26 Dec 77).
62. Washington Papers, 67:71 (Greene to Washington, 15 Feb 78).
tants. It appointed a wagonmaster in each county, who in turn designated a deputy wagonmaster in each township. The latter was required to report the names of all wagon owners in each township and the number of wagons each owned. Under orders of the state wagonmaster general, county wagonmasters were to call out wagons in rotation so that every wagon owner would be required to perform a tour of duty.63
In order to obtain wagons and teams, Continental deputy quartermasters general thereafter had to apply to the state wagonmaster general, for they no longer had authority to impress in Pennsylvania. Unfortunately, they often encountered delays in getting the wagons they requested, particularly if the county wagonmaster happened to be away when the state wagonmaster general's order reached him. At times the county wagonmaster could not get a constable to execute a warrant for bringing in teams after the owners had refused to provide them. Moreover, there was no guarantee that the quota of wagons called for would be filled. Several brigades of wagons coming from Lancaster County, for example, which were each supposed to have not less than twelve teams, went to camp with only seven.64
State Wagonmaster General James Young was distressed that his efforts to assist the Quartermaster's Department produced no better results. Even when wagons and drivers appeared, there was no certainty that they would perform their duty. For example, some twenty to thirty wagons came from Northampton County in February 1778 in response to orders of the county wagonmaster. They made one trip for provisions to Head of Elk, and then the wagoners deserted. Young advised Deputy Quartermaster General Lutterloh that he was recommending to President Wharton and the Executive Council of Pennsylvania that a party of militia accompany every brigade sent to camp in order to compel the wagoners to do their duty.65 By March 1778 Washington had received so many complaints that he requested Wharton to give some attention to the enforcement of the state's wagon law. He did not know, he wrote, whether it was a deficiency in the law or inactivity on the part of the officers executing it that was causing the difficulties. The council assured Deputy Quartermaster General Lutterloh of its support, attributing the lack of wagons not to any unwillingness to cooperate but to the failure of the Quartermaster's Department to pay wagon owners for their services.66
63. Pennsylvania Archives, 1st ser., 6:124 (22 Dec 77).
64. Ibid., 1st ser., 6:324-25 (Deputy Quartermaster General George Ross to Col George Gibson, 2 Mar 78).
65. (1) Ibid., 1st ser., 6:320 (Chaloner to Young, 2 Mar 78); 321-22 (same to Biddle, 26 Feb 78). (2) Washington Papers, 68:125 (Biddle to Lt Col John Laurens, 5 Mar 78). (3) RG 11, CC Papers, item 155, 1:389 (Young to Lutterloh, 2 Mar 78); 393 (same to same, 3 Mar 78).
66. (1) Fitzpatrick, Writings of Washington, 11:45-48 (7 Mar 78). (2) Washington Papers, 69:43 (Lutterloh to Washington, 10 Mar 78). (3) Pennsylvania Archives, 1st ser., 6:352-53 (council to Lutterloh, 10 Mar 78).
Pennsylvania's wagon law was not the only difficulty facing the Quartermaster's Department in the winter of 1777-78. The deputy quartermaster general at Lancaster reported in December that he was hampered in obtaining teams because so many were employed by the militia. Even more detrimental to his efforts to get wagoners was the law governing militia service. Wagon owners offered to furnish their teams and do a two-month tour of duty with the Continental Army provided that they would be excused from militia service. They pointed out that if they failed to appear when called to duty while on service for the Army, they were subject to fines amounting to the cost of providing a substitute.67
When Greene became Quartermaster General in March 1778, the need to improve the wagon service demanded his immediate attention. He familiarized himself with the Pennsylvania wagon law, and then, carrying a letter of introduction from Washington, he called on Wharton and the Executive Council of Pennsylvania to propose amendments to the law. In particular, he was eager to obtain exemptions from militia duty for those Pennsylvanians who were employed as wagonmasters and teamsters in the Continental service. On 13 April the council responded that many individuals entered the wagon service for a short time merely to evade the militia law. If the Quartermaster's Department gave a certificate for a regular enlistment, whether of a year or a shorter time, that could be shown to the county lieutenant, he would exempt the individual from the fine. The council proposed instructing the county lieutenants to this effect.68
For its part, the Executive Council pressed for a settlement of accounts in cash. Repeated complaints had been made by owners whose wagons had been in Army service that when their accounts were settled they received only certificates showing the amount of money due them instead of cash. This practice, the council pointed out to Greene in May, had a "mischievous effect," rendering service disagreeable and requiring force to draw out the wagons. The use of force only "increases the dislike and sours the mind." Now that Greene was the head of the department, it hoped that this cause of complaint would be removed. Unfortunately, debts contracted by Greene's predecessor could not be discharged by him, but the department, Assistant Quartermaster General Pettit wrote, hoped to pay all current contracts.69
These optimistic hopes of 1778 gave way the next year to the harsh necessity of having to operate on credit and defer payments as long as possible. When Deputy Quartermaster General Thomas Chase complained in October 1779 that teamsters in the Boston area refused to cart supplies unless they
67. Ibid., 1st ser., 6:69-70 (Ross to Col Thomas Jones, 6 Dec 77).
68. (1) Fitzpatrick, Writings of Washington, 11:241-42 ((o Pres Wharton, 10 Apr 78). (2) Pennsylvania Archives, 1st ser., 6:416 (council to Washington, 13 Apr 78).
69. Ibid., 1st ser., 6:483 (council to Greene, 7 May 78); 513-15 (Pettit to Pres Wharton, 16 May 78).
were paid for their work as they did it, Greene could only sympathize with the wagoners: "They have generally been kept so long out of their money that by the time they receive it, it has depreciated one half its value."70
In theory, the Quartermaster's Department provided all wagon service on the supply lines needed by the other staff departments. In actual practice, emergencies resulted in exceptions to the rule. When the Commissary Department was reorganized in 1777, Congress specifically provided that the Commissary General of Purchases and his subordinates were to apply to the Quartermaster General or his officers for the wagons, teams, and horses needed in their districts. If at any time, however, it became necessary for them to hire wagons and teams, the prices they paid were not to exceed the rates stipulated by Congress or the Quartermaster General. The Commissary of Hides and his deputies were also specifically authorized to hire or impress wagons for the use of that department.71
In emergencies, competition between quartermasters and commissaries for wagons and teams naturally resulted, and prices as a result varied considerably. When Deputy Quartermaster General Udny Hay in New York complained of such a situation early in 1779, Greene pointed out that the commissaries were not under his control, and he could not restrain them, though he agreed that a uniform price would be more satisfactory and less expensive to the public. To this end, he wished that all departments requiring transportation would govern themselves by the price offered by the Quartermaster's Department.72 Greene could see the problem and urge corrective measures, but he had no authority to enforce them.
As prices rose in 1779, the expenditures of the Quartermaster's Department spiraled upward. Wagon hire for the supply lines became increasingly expensive in all areas. Deputy Quartermaster General Chase reported, for example, that at Boston carting cost 5 dollars a mile, "and if paid would ruin the money entirely." His application to the Massachusetts General Court for assistance, he reported to Greene, had as yet brought him no teams. Deputy Quartermaster General Moore Furman in New Jersey informed Greene that he could get about sixty wagons but no drivers, for they could get higher wages at home.73
In June 1779 the committee of Congress appointed to devise a plan for improving the expenditure of public money by the Quartermaster's and Com-
70. APS, Greene Letters, 4:24 (Chase to Greene, 21 Oct 79).
71. JCC, 8:445-46 (10 Jun 77); 9:794-95 (11 Oct 77).
72. RG 11, CC Papers, item 173, 4:129-32 (Greene to Hay, 16 Feb 78).
73. APS, Greene Letters, 7:19 (Chase to Greene, 2 May 79); 41 (Furman to Greene, 7 May 79).
missary Departments brought in a report. Congress thereupon resolved that the Quartermaster General should be empowered to allow 131/3 dollars, one ration, and forage for one wagon with four horses and a driver per day. If horses were shod at government expense, the cost was to be deducted from the wages. Congress went on to recommend that the states exempt all wagoners; front militia duties and any related fines while they were employed in the service of the United States and that the length of time of such service should be considered as their tour of duty in the militia.74
When Greene received these resolutions, he wrote to John Jay that such exemptions from militia service and fines would be advantageous to the Wagon Department. He might well have doubted, however, the effectiveness of either state or congressional action in this area. Deputy Quartermaster General John Davis at Carlisle, Pennsylvania, was attempting to send supply wagons to Fort Pitt in the spring of 1779. He had given the enlisted wagoners certificates of service, but these certificates were held to be insufficient by the local authorities, who imposed militia fines. Davis inquired of the Quartermaster's Department if he should pay the fines or whether an order to exempt the wagoners; from militia duty could be obtained from the Pennsylvania Executive Council. Without such exemption, he wrote, he could get no drivers. Apparently, lieutenants in the western counties were unaware of the council's action the previous year. Other states were seemingly unaware of the congressional action of June 1779. In August Deputy Quartermaster General Nehemiah Hubbard called the attention of the governor of Connecticut to the congressional resolution; wagoners -whom he had enlisted had been drafted by the state for a two-month tour of duty at New London, Connecticut.75
If Greene was pleased to have congressional support for exempting wagoners from fines imposed upon them for failure to report for militia duty, he found utterly incomprehensible that part of the resolution that set wages for wagon hire. He argued that it would be impossible to make the regulation effective. The proposed wages, he informed the President of Congress, were far lower than what the Quartermaster's Department was frequently obliged to give. As long as money fluctuated in value, it would be impossible to set wages even in one state let alone in all. The wages given in private business, he pointed out, would always to a large degree govern those which his department had to give.76
In the matter of wagon hire, as in other supply functions, the Quartermaster's Department attributed its difficulties to lack of funds. However willing Congress might have been to grant the needed funds, the Treasury
74. JCC, 14:726-27 (14 Jun 79).
75. (1) APS, Greene Letters, 5:47 (Davis to Pettit, 21 May 79). (2) RG 93, Misc Numbered Docs 24065, fols. 17- 18 (Hubbard to Trumbull, 21 Aug 79).
76. APS, Greene Letters, 6:98 (to Jay, 20 Jun 79).
could not produce the money in 1779, for it was itself without funds. The continuing depreciation of the currency handicapped supply at every turn.
As the winter of 1779-80 began, Greene had to supply the troops quartered at Morristown while again making preparations for the next campaign. Conditions at Morristown were worse than what they had been at Valley Forge. Deep snow that subsequently melted to turn roads into quagmires prevented the transportation of flour. Only the timely assistance of local magistrates staved off starvation at the camp. Lack of funds hampered all efforts to prepare for the campaign, in which Washington hoped to have French assistance. Deputy Quartermaster General Robert Lettis Hooper, for example, in February 1780 had some wagons at Easton, Pennsylvania, including some assigned to the Artillery Park, but he lacked funds to pay the artificers for doing the necessary repair work.77 In response to a query in March from Washington, Greene wrote that he was mortified to have to confess that because of insufficient support he was unable to make the preparations necessary for moving the troops southward or for putting them in motion in the northern states. Two months later, lest Washington think that conditions had improved, he reiterated his inability to move the Army. Wagons which he had depended on to provide transportation had been sold by their manufacturers because the Quartermaster's Department had been unable to fulfill the contracts that had been negotiated. Other contracts had simply been left unfinished. Army horses which had been sent into the country to winter and recuperate were starving, and many had perished for want of forage. Even if all the horses had been made fit for service, he wrote, their number would have been insufficient to put the Army in motion.78
In the absence of funds, transportation on the supply lines could be accomplished only by impressment. To move a large quantity of flour within four days from Trenton to New Windsor, New York, in June 1780, Washington had to send an impress party under General Knox into the neighboring counties of Pennsylvania and New Jersey. Washington had appealed to President Joseph Reed of the Pennsylvania Executive Council for the use of 250 wagons, but Knox anticipated getting little help from Reed, who had written that the number of wagons in the state was "amazingly diminished." In the past Lancaster County had reported 1,620 wagons; it now had only 370, and other counties had fallen off similarly in the number of wagons reported. The miserable wages allowed by Congress, Reed declared, had caused many farmers to break up their teams. The main reason for the deficiencies of transportation from Trenton, however, was not so much a lack of wagons as a lack of money to pay for them. Assisted by the strenuous
77. Ibid., 1:75 (Hooper to Greene, 27 Feb 80).
78. (1) Fitzpatrick, Writings of Washington, 18:157-58 (to Greene, 26 Mar 80). (2) RG 11, CC Papers, item 155, 1:228-31 (Greene to Washington, 2 Apr 80). (3) Washington Papers, 135:22 (Greene to Washington, 11 May 80).
efforts of Deputy Quartermaster General Furman at Trenton, Knox managed to transport 3,500 barrels of flour to New Windsor.79
Changes in the Wagon Department
Confronted with an empty treasury, Congress in the winter of 1779-80 eliminated the use of money in the supply process by devising the system of specific supplies. With conspicuous lack of foresight, however, it failed to provide for the transportation of the provisions to the troops; the states were only to gather their quotas of specific supplies in magazines within their respective borders. It was July 1780 before Congress, after prolonged delay, adopted a new regulatory measure for the Quartermaster's Department which, among other things, corrected that oversight. Under the regulation the deputy quartermaster in each state furnished the means of transportation for all public property in the state. They were also made responsible for keeping proper registers of persons, teams, packhorses, and conditions of service.80
Having lopped off the Wagon Department's responsibility for transportation on the supply lines, Congress also dealt with the remaining functions it performed for the Continental Army in the field. It authorized the Quartermaster General to appoint one wagonmaster with the main army and a deputy for each separate army except the Southern Army. The Quartermaster General also was to appoint as many deputies or assistants, clerks, and conductors as the service required. The wagonmaster and deputies were to keep exact registers of all persons and teams employed with the Army, distinguishing between private and public property. Each also had to keep exact registers of all payrolls. The wagonmaster and the deputies were to make returns to the Quartermaster General of all persons, teams, and horses employed, noting where and with whom they served. They were also to record in these returns the number of horses that died, were stolen, or strayed, and the number of harnesses that were lost. The wagonmaster and the deputy in a separate army were to give all the orders for teams from the horse yard and for harnesses from the store. The Quartermaster General was responsible for establishing a horse yard with the main army to receive and issue all the army's horses.
Congress further authorized the Quartermaster General, with the approval of the Commander in Chief or the commander of a separate army, to take officers from the line of the Continental Army to fill these Wagon Department positions. According to Quartermaster General Pickering, this practice
79. Ibid., reel 67, ser. 4 (Washington to Knox, 21 Jun 80; Reed to Washington, 22 Jun 80; Knox to Washington, 25 Jun 80).
80. JCC, 17:623-24, 628-29 (15 Jul 80).
was common in foreign armies. Soldiers could be taken from the line also to serve as conductors. Pickering selected Maj. Thomas Cogswell from the line as the wagonmaster with the main army. Washington announced his appointment on 30 September 1780.81 As directed by Congress, Pickering also appointed a superintendent of the horse yard with the main army. His staff included an assistant, a clerk, and four hostlers. In addition to keeping an exact register of all receipts and deliveries, he maintained a record of all horses that were sold as unfit for service, that died, or that were stolen, and he made a monthly return to the Quartermaster General.
This organization of the Wagon Department continued virtually unchanged until the end of the war. Only one modification was made. In the fall of 1782 Congress revoked the power it had given to Maj. Gen. Nathanael Greene when he took command of the Southern Army to appoint his Quartermaster officers and vested this authority in the Quartermaster General. He was authorized to appoint one deputy wagonmaster for the Southern Army and as many conductors as were needed.82
Distress on the Supply Lines
By the time Pickering assumed the duties of Quartermaster General with the main army in the field in September 1780, all prospects of an allied offensive with the French had vanished "like the Morning Dew."83 Pickering soon faced the problem of supplying Washington's troops in their winter camps, which stretched from West Point to Morristown. Lack of funds made it impossible for the deputy quartermasters to hire wagons and teams on the supply lines. Some wagonloads of clothing had been lying at Springfield, Massachusetts, since the summer for lack of teams to forward them.84 Nor were sufficient wagons available to haul provisions, the supply of which continued precarious under the system of specific supplies. Enlistment grievances and the hardships imposed by inadequate clothing and scanty rations caused the troops of the Pennsylvania line to mutiny at Morristown on 1 January 1781, a precedent that others followed.
Unable to hire wagons and teams, the Quartermaster's Department applied to the justices in the counties for assistance in obtaining wagons but failed to get their support in the face of war weariness and the disinclination of many wagon owners to provide further service without pay. Requests to justices for teams to move flour from Ringwood, New Jersey, to New Windsor
81. (1) For the pay scale Congress set for the department's personnel, see ibid. (2) Washington Papers, 152:121 (Pickering to Washington, 28 Sep 80). (3) Fitzpatrick, Writings of Washington, 20:102 (GO, 30 Sep 80).
82. JCC, 23:683, 693 (23 and 29 Oct 82).
83. Fitzpatrick, Writings of Washington, 19:403, 437 (to Pres of Cong, 20 and 24 Aug 80).
84. Washington Papers, 158:25 (Jonathan Trumbull to Washington, 21 Nov 80); 41 (William Story to Washington, 22 Nov 80).
in the spring of 1781 brought only excuses that the roads were bad, the forage exhausted, and the money lacking to pay the expenses of turning out teams. Even when justices did get teams to report, the number was frequently less than the department had called for. Of 82 double and 75 single teams requested, only 11 double and 17 single teams reported at Ringwood. Washington reluctantly agreed to issue impress warrants to transport the flour.85
Under the compelling need to provision the troops, the Quartermaster's Department resorted to dubious methods to move rations to Washington's army. When Deputy Quartermaster Hughes reported in April 1781 that wagoners refused to transport provisions unless part of their money was paid when they picked up the load and the rest when they delivered it, Pickering directed the sale of part of the provisions to defray the cost of forwarding the remainder. This method was liable to abuse, as Washington pointed out, and it was a wretched way of doing business, as Pickering informed Congress, for the army sorely needed the provisions being sold. Washington himself, in his anxiety to provision his troops, turned over to the Quartermaster's Department part of the money sent by the paymaster general of Massachusetts to pay the troops of that state's line. The money was to be used by the department to meet the expenses of transporting to camp flour from New Jersey and salt meat from Connecticut.86 Such measures, however, were expedients that brought only, temporary relief.
Preparations for the 1781 Campaign
If the Quartermaster's Department was unable to provide sufficient transportation to support the troops in winter quarters, it was clearly in no position to make adequate preparations for the campaign of 1781. One of the first actions that Pickering had taken on arriving at camp late in September 1780 to assume his duties was to put a stop, with Washington's approval, to all further purchases of horses and wagons by the Quartermaster's Department. In October Pickering advised Samuel Miles, his deputy quartermaster in Pennsylvania, to inspect all the horses being held in that state that had been acquired for the campaign of 1780. Unfit horses, he directed, were to be sold immediately before the United States was put to any more expense. He was aware that this action would result in a great loss to the government, but it was better, he argued, to give these horses away than to keep them over the winter when neither sufficient forage nor pasturage would be available for
85. (1) Ibid., 169:51 (Deputy Quartermaster Richard Platt to Lt Col David Humphreys, 29 Mar 81). (2) RG 93, Pickering Letters, 125:89, 97 (to Humphreys, 6 and 10 Apr 81). (3) Fitzpatrick, Writings of Washington, 22:504-05 (to Pickering, 26 Apr 81).
86. (1) Washington Papers, 171:23 (Pickering to Hughes, 17 Apr 81). (2) RG 11, CC Papers, item 192, fol. 57 (Pickering to Pres of Cong, 30 Mar 81). (3) Fitzpatrick, Writings of Washington, 22:5 (to Pickering, 28 Apr 81); 21-22 (to Pres of Cong, 1 May 81).
their maintenance. By December Pickering confessed himself "distressed beyond measure for the want of funds." He had written repeatedly to Assistant Quartermaster General Pettit at Philadelphia for money particularly for the Wagon Department so that he could pay the wagoners, reenlist them, and send the horses to winter quarters.87
In January 1781 Pickering, as was customary, reviewed the transportation situation for Washington. Recalling that Congress had authorized the sale of some horses and the purchase of oxen for the next campaign, Pickering reported that he had sold horses that could not be made fit for useful service. The proceeds, however, were not enough to billet the remaining horses for a month, let alone to enable him to purchase oxen to replace the horses sold. The horses on hand were barely sufficient for moving the fieldpieces, the ammunition wagons, and the wagons of officers who were entitled to them. Later, however, he concluded that the horses being wintered in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and New England, together with the ox teams that were to be obtained, would provide ample transportation for the army.
Although Pickering thought that an assessment on the states was the only means by which teams could be obtained, Washington, as in the past, directed that they be hired. He overruled a proposal by Pickering that ox teams be used by New England troops, who were accustomed to them, and horse teams by the troops of other states. Washington directed that ox teams be provided for the transportation of common baggage and provisions for his army but that horses be furnished for the use of the Artillery and Cavalry. He approved Pickering's suggestion to furnish two-horse tumbrels for the use of officers and for the transportation of camp kettles. The tumbrels were cheaper and easier to make than wagons. Many officers had been allowed two-horse wagons, but none had ever been provided, and in the past the Quartermaster's Department had been obliged to furnish four-horse wagons instead.88
With these instructions, Pickering went ahead with his preparations. Ralph Pomeroy, deputy quartermaster in Connecticut, advertised for ox teams on Pickering's orders. The response was good, but he was obliged to contract for them at a higher price- 10 shillings per day-than he had hoped to pay. Pomeroy felt it was advisable to pay this rate since he had learned that there likely would soon be competition from agents procuring teams for the French troops.89 Pickering intended to obtain all the ox teams in New England except for forty-six that he expected to get in New York and New Jersey. It was the end of April, however, before he asked Deputy Quartermaster Neilson in New Jersey to contract for ox teams. If none could be had, Neilson
87. RG 93, Pickering Letters, 126:125 (to Miles, 4 Oct 80); 123:138-42 (to Pettit, 1 Dec 80).
88. (1) Washington Papers, 162:129-31 (Pickering to Washington, 14 Jan 81). (2) Fitzpatrick, Writings of Washington, 21:204-06 (to Pickering, 10 Feb 81).
89. Washington Papers, 169: 10 (Pomeroy to Pickering, 25 Mar 81).
was to report on the number of four-horse teams that he could obtain and the terms for hiring them.90 This request came rather late in the season, as Pickering himself acknowledged, for Washington had set early May as the time for having the teams in readiness.
Pickering had counted on having ready for service sufficient Continental horses, made fit during the winter in Pennsylvania and Connecticut. On the eve of allied operations, however, he found their number disappointing. In January Deputy Quartermaster Miles had estimated that about 1,200 horses were recuperating in Pennsylvania; in June he reported there were only 649. Similar discrepancies showed up in reports from other deputy quartermasters. In consequence, Pickering gave orders to hire four-horse teams, but by mid-July neither Miles in Pennsylvania nor Hughes in New York had reported any success. Many owners of teams that had been employed in the past were reluctant to seek reemployment since their wagons had been worn out. The army had spare wagons, however, and Pickering proposed to furnish each owner of a horse team with a wagon and gears, appraised at their just value, if he would engage for the campaign. The appraised value in effect would be an advance payment to the owner, but Deputy Quartermaster Neilson doubted the efficacy of the proposal.91
With the army in motion, Pickering sent an urgent request on 12 July 1781 to Deputy Quartermaster Pomeroy in Connecticut to hurry on the ox teams that he had engaged. He had to have horses, he wrote Deputy Quartermaster Hughes in New York. "I am constrained to do what I ever intended to avoid, to promise certain payment at a day, when the money was not in my hands." This action was necessitated by a call from General Knox for 100 horses to bring the light artillery into the field. While Hughes initiated efforts to hire teams, Pickering, on a warrant obtained from Washington, had Henry Dearborn-the deputy quartermaster with the main army-impress teams immediately. As horses began arriving from Pennsylvania, Pickering suspended this impressment.92
When plans for the campaign suddenly shifted focus from an attack on New York to a march against Cornwallis in Virginia, the number of wagons and teams on hand was still insufficient. All the ox teams on both sides of the Hudson had to be collected to supply twenty-four teams to General Knox at the Artillery Park at New Windsor. This action was necessary, Pickering advised Deputy Quartermaster Hughes on 18 August, even if all other business was in consequence suspended. Five days later, with the allied American and French army on the March, Pickering asked Maj. Gen. William Heath,
90. RG 93, Pickering Letters, 125:207-09 (to Neilson, 30 Apr 81).
91. Washington Papers, 179:97 (Pickering to Washington, 12 Jul 81).
92. (1) RG 93, Pickering Letters, 82:14-15 (to Pomeroy, 12 Jul 81); 22-24 (to Hughes, 14 Jul 81); 29-31 (to Washington, 19 Jul 81); 42 (to Dearborn, 20 Jul 81). (2) Fitzpatrick, Writings of Washington, 22:399 (to Pickering, 20 Jul 81).
in command of the American force remaining in New York, for temporary use of the teams with his troops. Since the latter were at a fixed camp, the teams could be spared to transport additional stores—entrenching and artificers' tools, sandbags, clothing, and boats—with the detachment moving south. Heath apparently thought otherwise, and it took an order from Washington the next day to obtain the teams.93
Pickering remained in the rear to supervise transportation and to determine the number of wagons to accompany the troops or meet them along the way, although he wrote that he would not "meddle" with the Artillery.94 Washington, en route to Virginia, also gave attention to the need for wagons. He requested the Marquis de Lafayette, who was already in Virginia, to report on the number of wagons and horses that might be collected in that state for the use of the allied troops. Washington also wrote to Governor Thomas Nelson of Virginia. He informed Maj. Gen. Benjamin Lincoln, then at Trenton, that he had not yet made precise arrangements with Pickering on the number of wagons and teams that were to go from Trenton to Head of Elk. He ordered General Lincoln to make these arrangements, adding that all the covered wagons would be needed in Virginia. To cover any emergency that might arise, Washington issued an impress warrant to the Quartermaster General or the deputy quartermaster with the American detachment, but it was to be used only when absolutely necessary.95
Pickering believed that neither wagons nor horses were likely to be obtained in Virginia. Consequently, he decided to send along as many wagons as were necessary to move the troops without depending on the country through which they passed. He informed Deputy Quartermaster Dearborn that Quartermaster stores were being transported in 23 wagons, clothing in 11, boats in 30, and spare provisions in 11, making a total of 75 wagons. Since the boats would only have to be hauled to Head of Elk, where clothing and spare provisions would be distributed, there would be plenty of spare teams and wagons to permit Dearborn to select the best to be sent on to Virginia from Head of Elk. Pickering, who earlier in the troop movement had induced Washington to issue a General Order calling on the officers to reduce the amount of their baggage, still hoped that General Lincoln at Trenton could persuade them to leave behind the "great proportion of their lumber."96
Despite the distance to be covered and the broad rivers to be crossed, the troops and their stores, Pickering could report on 3 September, were doing well and moving with unusual rapidity. Even the ox teams were supporting
93. (1) Ibid., 23:41 (to Heath, 24 Aug 81). (2) RG 93. Pickering Letters. 127:226 (to Hughes, 18 Aug 81); 127:217 (to Heath, 23 Aug 81).
94. Ibid., 82:176 (to Dearborn, 31 Aug 81).
95. Fitzpatrick, Writings of Washington, 23:33-34 (to Lafayette, 21 Aug 81); 55-57 (to Gov Nelson, 21 Aug 81); 59-60 (to Lincoln, 28 Aug 81); 62-63 (impress warrant, 28 Aug 81).
96. (1) RG 93, Pickering Letters, 82:166-67 (to Washington, 21 Aug 81); 176-78 (to Dearborn, 31 Aug 81). (2) Fitzpatrick, Writings of Washington, 23:37-38 (GO, 22 Aug 81).
the march at least as well as the horses. Meanwhile, on I September he had directed Deputy Quartermaster Donaldson Yeates of Maryland to be ready to receive and land at Christiana Bridge the stores of the troops who were embarking on that date at Trenton; some 700 tons of stores were to be transported to Head of Elk.97
At the end of August the Quartermaster General was still in Philadelphia, but Deputy Quartermaster Edward Carrington of the Southern Army was then at Williamsburg. Under orders from Lafayette, Carrington requested the governor of Virginia to impress wagons for three to eight weeks' service and to provide 100 horses immediately for the French artillery and for the use of French field officers. Although delivery of wagons and horses had been promised, none were on hand when the French fleet of Admiral Francois, Comte de Grasse, arrived. The troops he brought from the West Indies were unable to move for lack of wagons to transport their baggage. To bring them to Williamsburg, Carrington had to make use of wagons already "scantily appropriated to other necessary uses," and their baggage had to stay where it was, subject to accidents.98
When Pickering arrived at Williamsburg in mid-September, a scarcity of wagons still hampered operations. The shortage remained so acute that when the allied troops marched to Yorktown, Washington ordered his own baggage wagons to be used for the transportation of ordnance and stores and requested that the wagons of all general, field, and other officers be employed
97. RG 93, Pickering Letters, 82:181-82 (to Hughes, 3 Sep 8 1); 180 (to Yeates, 1 Sep 81).
98. Calendar of Virginia State Papers, 2:401-02 (Carrington to Gov Nelson, 7 Sep 81).
in the same service. The transportation of the heavy artillery and stores from their landing place on the James River six miles to the camp before Yorktown was carried on tediously and slowly until the wagon trains that had been en route overland from Head of Elk arrived during the first week in October.99
The closing months of the war saw the Quartermaster General preparing another estimate of the Continental Army's transportation needs, which now had to be cleared with the Superintendent of Finance. Washington had decided that for economic reasons ox teams should be used for the wagons of regimental officers in the campaign of 1782. Moreover, he concluded that purchasing rather than hiring these teams would be more practical, although this decision would have to be made by Robert Morris, the Superintendent of Finance. Pickering submitted his estimate of transportation needs to Morris and noted that funds would be needed for hiring wagoners, since Washington had directed that none be taken from the line.100
In authorizing purchase, Morris directed that arrangements should be made for delivery of the ox teams at the time they would be needed for the campaign—that is, about 1 May. Payment of part of the money due would be made on delivery and the rest in two or three months. He instructed the purchasers, however, not to pay high prices just for the sake of credit, since the period of credit would be short and the whole amount due might be paid on delivery.101
Pickering sent orders to his deputies in New England, but they were unable to buy teams on credit. The notes furnished by Morris for payment were unacceptable, and until the states paid their taxes, he had no cash. By the fall of 1782 Pickering was directing the disposal of some of the oxen to pay the accounts due for the maintenance of the rest of the animals.102 The end of the war removed the need to improvise any other measures for supplying the Continental Army with land transportation.
99. Fitzpatrick, Writings of Washington, 23:167 (GO, 2 Oct 81); 186 (to Edward Rutledge, 6 Oct 81).
100. (1) Washington Papers, 191:126-27 (Pickering to Washington, 15 Feb 82). (2) Fitzpatrick, Writings of Washington, 23:494-95 (to Pickering, 10 Feb 82). (3) RG 93, Pickering Letters, 82:83 (to Morris, 12 Feb 82); 83:102-05 (to same, 19 Feb 82).
101. Papers of Robert Morris, Letter Book B, fols. 456-57 (to Pickering, 12 Feb 82), Manuscript Division, Library of Congress.
102. RG 93, Pickering Letters, 83:238 (to Washington, 23 Apr 82); 84:185-87 (to Elisha Wales, 7 Oct 82).
Return to the Table of Contents