Organization of the Clothing Department
Until 1779 Congress gave scant attention to developing any kind of organization for handling clothing supply. During much of the war Washington acted as his own Clothier General. He attributed the failure of Congress to give "seasonable" care to clothing supply to the "multiplicity of business" demanding its attention. According to Washington, the only solution for improving clothing supply and, in fact, supply in general was to establish permanent agencies with adequate authority to act. But as late as the fall of 1780, when efforts for such reform were lagging, John Sullivan, a delegate to the Continental Congress and former Continental officer who had first-hand knowledge of supply problems, wrote, "You might almost as soon Teach the Streams to rush back to their Source as persuade Congress out of their Ancient Tract."1
Role of the Quartermaster's Department
Because no officer had been designated in 1775 to handle clothing supply for the Continental Army, the Continental Congress frequently called upon Quartermaster General Thomas Mifflin to accept delivery of blankets and cloth imported by the Secret Committee or obtained from prize ships brought into American ports.2 He set tailors found among the troops to work making clothing from this cloth, and he directed its sale to the troops. As early as September 1775 Mifflin had been actively promoting the procurement of clothing. In response to a letter that he wrote, the Continental Congress that month appointed a committee of five members to purchase woolen goods from merchants to the amount of 5,000 pounds sterling. It ordered that these woolens be turned over to the Quartermaster General to be made into clothing and sold to the soldiers at "prime cost and charges, including a commission of five per cent" paid to Mifflin for his trouble.3
1. (1) Fitzpatrick, Writings of Washington, 20:371-74 (to Sullivan, 20 Nov 80). See also 21:14 (to James Duane, 26 Dec 80). (2) Burnett, Letters, 5:460-61 (Sullivan to Washington, 26 Nov 80).
2. JCC, 6:878, 897 (15 and 23 Oct 76).
3. Ibid., 3:260 (23 Sep 75).
Debate on this matter revealed some conflicting views among the delegates. Roger Sherman recalled that sutlers had sold clothing to the soldiers in the French and Indian War, but Silas Deane rejoined that as a consequence the soldiers had been imposed upon. Sherman thought that in any case many soldiers would be "supplied by families with their own manufacture." Robert Treat Paine argued that Congress had not agreed to clothe the soldiers, and the Quartermaster General "has no right to keep a slop-shop, any more than anybody else. " To this Deane replied that there was "no preaching against a snow-storm"; the troops would have to be clothed or they would perish. John Adams was surprised by the outcome, but he hoped the vote would benefit the soldiers, "which was all I wished, the interest of Mr. Mifflin being nothing to me."4
Later in the fall of 1775 Congress made provision for clothing the troops in the Northern Department under Maj. Gen. Philip Schuyler. It appointed a committee of three to purchase within the colonies specified items of clothing.5 These were to be sold at cost to those soldiers who would reenlist in the Northern Army and to new recruits. As in the case of Quartermaster General Mifflin, Congress allowed a 5 percent commission to the quartermaster responsible for selling the clothing to the soldiers. Congress also ordered the committee to purchase enough duffel or kersey to make up 300 watch coats; the material, needles, and thread were to be sent to General Schuyler for that purpose. He was to retain the watch coats for the use of sentries.6
Before the end of 1775 Washington appealed to General Schuyler to send to headquarters such clothing as he could spare from the supplies stored at Albany. Brig. Gen. Richard Montgomery, he hopefully anticipated, would still be able to clothe the troops under his command at Montreal. Congress had come to the same conclusion, and it ordered the clothing that had been purchased and sent to Albany for the Northern Army forwarded by land to Mifflin for use of the troops at Cambridge. Washington subsequently reported that Schuyler had sent clothing worth about "1,700 pounds (York currency)" to the soldiers of the main Continental army, and that "it had come very seasonably as they are in great want."7
Procurement of clothing, blankets, and shoes posed difficulties. Such supplies were not abundant in the colonies, and it soon became apparent
4. Ibid., 3:471-73 (23 Sep 75).
5. These items included 3,000 felt hats, 3,000 worsted caps, 3,000 pairs of buckskin breeches, 3,000 pairs of shoes, 3,000 pairs of yam stockings, and 3,000 waistcoats.
6. JCC, 3:317-18 (2 Nov 75).
7. (1) Ibid., 3:407-08 (5 and 9 Dec 75). (2) Fitzpatrick, Writings of Washington, 4:195 (to Pres of Cong, 31 Dec 75); 291 (to same, 30 Jan 76).
that Congress would have to rely on importation to keep the troops adequately clothed and shod. Two congressional committees, the Secret Committee and the Committee of Secret Correspondence, became actively engaged in importing clothing. Congress on 3 January 1776 authorized the Secret Committee to import a quantity of textiles.8 This action marked the beginning of that committee's clothing procurement activities, which continued when it was reorganized as the Commerce Committee. Its activities included importing clothing, reporting the arrival of cargoes, and indicating the distribution to be made of the imported articles.9 The Committee of Secret Correspondence, concerned with foreign aid, directed its efforts during the war to obtaining clothing from France.
To a certain extent one other committee of Congress, the Marine Committee, was instrumental in adding clothing to Continental supply lines. It did so not by purchase but by seizure. A portion of the cargoes of British merchantmen captured by the American Navy became the property, under prize regulations, of the Continental Congress. Such cargoes included clothing and fabrics. The Marine Committee placed the moiety of these goods belonging to the Continental Congress in the hands of its Continental Agents for disposal according to the directions of Congress. With the appointment of a Clothier General in 1777, these Continental Agents turned over to the state deputy clothiers such supplies of clothing and textiles as they had on hand. The deputies then became responsible for transporting these supplies to the troops.
The transportation of cloth and clothing to the Continental Army provided an opportunity for making a handsome commission. For example, on 16 August 1779 William Gardner, deputy clothier at Portsmouth, New Hampshire, sent an invoice to the clothier at Washington's camp, who was to distribute the listed goods as the Commander in Chief ordered. A large part of this merchandise consisted of textiles that Gardner had received from John Langdon, Continental Agent at Portsmouth. They represented part of the Continental moiety of prizes taken by three Continental ships and brought into Portsmouth. When he examined the invoice, Washington found that Langdon had altered the valuation of this prize merchandise from its estimated sterling amount into Contine'ntal currency at an advance of 3,000 percent. On this valuation, and on the money paid out by him for buying casks and packing the goods to be forwarded to camp, Deputy Clothier Gardner had charged a 2 1/2 percent
8. JCC, 4:24. The following goods were to be imported as soon as possible: 60,000 striped blankets, 20,000 yards of brown and blue broadcloth, 10,000 yards of different colored facings, 3,000 pieces of "duffield," 3,000 pieces each of raven's duck and of ticklenburg, 1,500 pieces of osnaburg, 1,000 pieces of vitry, and 4,000 pieces of Hamburg dowlas, as well as assorted needles. See 3:453 (23 Dec 75).
9. Ibid., 6:878, 896 (15 and 22 Oct 76); 7:336 (8 May 77).
commission. This profit struck Washington as "insufferable," and he complained to the Board of War. The latter thereupon explained to Gardner the basis on which a commission was paid. Such materials as he received from a Continental Agent and made into clothing he could consider in the same light as goods he had purchased, and he could accordingly charge a commission of 2 ½ percent on the purchase price. However, such articles as he merely transmitted, forwarding them in the same condition as he had received them, carried no commission unless he found it necessary to pack or repack them. In that case, Congress allowed him a 21/2 percent commission on the money he spent for packing, labor, cooperage, and transportation.10
Congress also placed in the custody of the Continental Agents the clothing and fabrics that it imported. Early in 1777 it directed the Continental Agents in the Middle and Eastern Departments to furnish the Clothier General with an account of all clothing and fabrics for making clothing that they had in their custody. Congress also ordered them to send the clothing to the Clothier General for distribution according to the directions of the Commander in Chief. Subsequently, Congress learned that articles imported on its account into Massachusetts bad been delivered in part to the Navy Board in the eastern district, in part to the Massachusetts Board of War, and in part to the Continental Agent there. The Navy Board had issued some clothing without any order from the Continental Congress, the Commerce Committee, or the Board of War-an action likely to be productive of "confusion, misapplication, and waste." In consequence, Congress directed that in the future all such imports, unless otherwise directed, were to be delivered to the Continental Agent who, in turn, could deliver the clothing only on an order of Congress, the Board of War, or the Commerce Committee. In the summer of 1780 Congress rescinded this order. Thereafter all clothing arriving from Europe belonging to the United States was delivered at the ports to agents appointed by the Board of War without passing through the hands of the Continental Agents.11 Neither in 1777 nor in 1780 did the Clothier General have responsibility for accepting delivery of imports of clothing or fabrics at the seaports.
When Congress in January 1776 first directed the Secret Committee to import fabrics, it must have known that there would be no immediate supply from this source. Yet for the next six months, it took no further action to provide a supply of clothing for the troops. In mid-June, on the eve of the campaign in New York, Congress belatedly turned its attention
10. (1) Fitzpatrick, Writings of Washington, 16:260-61 (to Bd of War, I I Sep 79). (2) Washington Papers, 115:52 (Gardner to Washington, 16 Aug 79, and enclosed invoice); 116:129 (extract of letter, Bd of War to Gardner, 13 Sep 79).
11. JCC, 7:41 (16 Jan 77); 11:548-49 (28 May 77); 17:596 (10 Jul 80).
to this supply problem. It then brought the states into the procurement process by recommending that the assemblies have made or procure for each soldier enlisted "for the present campaign" a suit of clothes, consisting of a deerskin waistcoat and breeches, a felt hat, two pairs of hose, and two pairs of shoes as well as a blanket. It recommended further that the assemblies have these articles baled, invoiced, and stored in suitable places, to be delivered on the order of Congress or the Commander in Chief. Congress furnished the funds for these purchases. When articles of clothing were issued to the soldier, Congress ordered their cost deducted from his pay.12
During July the states appointed committees to carry this resolution into effect.13 Since adequate provision, however, had not been made for delivery, the Continental Congress later recommended that the states forward the clothing to headquarters. To cover these transportation costs, the states could draw on the President of Congress. With the intent of expediting matters, Congress appointed a standing clothing committee, consisting of one delegate from each state. Further complicating clothing procurement, it authorized this committee to employ agents in the states to purchase in the domestic market, on a commission basis, ready-made clothing and blankets as well as woolens that they were to have made into uniforms. The standing committee drew on Congress for the money necessary to carry out this assignment.14 Despite these efforts, the troops remained sorely in need of clothing and blankets since an immediate supply .did not flow from the states. This fact was not surprising considering the limited amount of clothing and fabrics available on the domestic market. A congressional committee dispatched to report upon the state of the main army in New York indicated that supply had been neglected "as well from the want of a proper Officer to superintend the Business as from the Scarcity of these Articles."15
Much disturbed by the failure to obtain clothing from the states, Congress clearly considered that this supply problem could be solved by having more active agents. On 1 December 1776 it expanded the role of the Secret Committee by directing it to appoint and send one or two trustworthy persons to the eastern states to collect the clothing that had been bought by the agents of the standing clothing committee. They were also to make further purchases in the domestic market. The Secret Committee sent two agents, Abraham Livingston and William Turnbull, advancing 20,000 dollars to them at the time they set out. Subsequently, they
12. Ibid., 5:466-67 (19 Jun 76).
13. Force, Am. Arch., 5th ser., 1:309 (Resolves of Mass. Assembly, 2 Jul 76); 201--03 (N.Y. Convention to Pres of Cong, 11 Jul 76).
14. JCC, 5:820-22 (25 Sep 76). For membership of the committee, see 6:1064.
15. Ibid., 5:844 (3 Oct 76).
received another 120,000 dollars, granted by Congress for the purchase of clothing. Once Washington appointed a Clothier General early in January 1777, the Secret Committee delegated to that officer both the settlement of the accounts of Livingston and Turnbull and the compensation to be made to them for their services.16 As it turned out, their procurement efforts were of short duration.
One other agency of the Continental Congress, namely the Board of War, was also concerned with clothing supply. The board prepared estimates of clothing required by the Continental Army which it submitted to Congress. This duty was clearly defined, but the Board of War was also responsible for handling other aspects of clothing supply as Congress directed. When efforts to reorganize the Clothing Department lagged in 1778, Congress authorized the Board of War to purchase on the domestic market shoes, stockings, and linen for the Continental Army, and to make up clothing from imported cloth and store and transport it to the troops. In this period the Board of War carried out many of the duties that a Clothier General should have been performing. When Congress reorganized the Clothing Department in 1779, it brought it under the supervision of the Board of War. The department remained there until the Board of War itself was replaced by the office of the Secretary at War.17
Given a supply problem at the beginning of the war, Congress was inclined to appoint a commissary to resolve the problem. Thus in the summer of 1776 Congress directed the North Carolina delegates to employ a commissary to purchase in Philadelphia or its environs clothing for troops being raised in their state for Continental service.18 He was but the first of the commissaries appointed to handle clothing supply. When the appeal to the states to procure clothing in 1776 did not produce the results Congress had hoped for, it passed a resolution on 9 October calling for the appointment of a commissary of clothing for each of the armies. It would be the duty of each commissary to submit to the state assemblies a report of the amount of clothing required by their regiments; to receive and pay for the deliveries made by the states; and to deliver the clothing to the regimental paymasters, who would issue it, deducting the costs from the soldiers' wages unless Congress allowed the clothing as a bounty. About a week later Congress authorized Washington to appoint a commmissary of clothing for the main army, and Congress itself appointed George Measam as commissary of clothing for the Northern Army.19
16. (1) Ibid., 6:997 (1 Dec 76); 7:126, 220-21 (15 Feb and 4 Apr 77). (2) Burnett, Letters, 2:170 (Secret Committee to Mass. Assembly, 4 Dec 76); 171 (Sam Adams to James Warren, 6 Dec 76); 221 (Francis Lewis to N.Y. Convention, 16 Jan 77).
17. JCC, 11:454-56, 811 (28 May and 18 Aug 78); 13:353-60 (23 Mar 79).
18. Ibid., 5:623 (3 1 Jul 76).
19. Ibid., 6:868, 869, 880-81 (9 and 16 Oct 76).
Appointment of Clothier General Mease
During the fall of 1776 when Congress was taking these tentative steps toward an organization for handling clothing supply, Washington was becoming increasingly alarmed about the situation. On 20 December he urged the appointment of a clothier general as a means of centralizing control of clothing supply for the whole Continental Army. One week later Congress authorized him to make this appointment, but it enacted no regulatory measure for the Clothing Department.20 James Mease, a Philadelphia merchant associated in business with Samuel Caldwell, promptly solicited the appointment. During the past year, Mease had procured considerable quantities of clothing, tentage, and other supplies at the direction of Congress. On 25 January 1776 Congress had appointed him a commissary to supply the battalions ordered to be raised in Pennsylvania. He had also served as a paymaster, handling large sums of money.21 His experience appeared to qualify him for the post. On 10 January 1777 Washington informed Mease that although he had not yet received his application, the Commander in Chief had decided to appoint him, at a salary of 150 dollars a month. No military rank was given to Mease, to any of his successors, or to any of the deputies.
Washington advised Mease that he would have to accompany the main army in order to fulfill his duties properly. These duties included purchasing both cloth and clothing on the domestic market, directing the manufacture of articles of clothing, supervising- transportation to magazines and to the Continental Army, accepting deliveries, and issuing the clothing to the troops. Washington particularly directed his attention to a major difficulty that had plagued the supply of clothing in the past. Because no adequate supervision and control had been exercised over shipment, parcels of clothing had been misapplied, lost, or abandoned by drivers along the road. "Not being in the line of the Quarter Master's duty," Washington wrote, "the business is not only neglected but the Articles often injudiciously applied."22
In February 1777 Mease arrived at camp ready to assume his duties. Washington directed him to prepare his estimate of clothing for the next campaign promptly and lay it before Congress. The general's anxiety led him to return to this subject in April. He feared that
if timely steps are not taken, we shall next Spring be all in confusion again, and bring our Army into the field half complete and of a thousand different Colours, as to uniform, which has not only an ill appearance, but it creates much irregularity;
20. (1) Ibid., 6:1941 (27 Dec 76). (2) Fitzpatrick, Writings of Washington, 6:404 (to Pres of Cong, 20 Dec 76).
21. (1) Washington Papers, 58:123 (Mease to Washington, 6 Jan 77). (2) JCCI 4:91, 390; 5:453, 823. (3) Force, Am. Arch., 5th set., 1:33-34, 116.
22. Fitzpatrick, Writings of Washington, 6:492-93 (to Mease, 10 Jan 77).
for when a Soldier is convinced, that it will be known by his dress to what Corps he belongs, he is hindered from committing many faults for fear of detection.
Mease replied that he had long since submitted to the chairman of the Secret Committee the estimate for the next year's clothing; he had been assured that "the Utmost pains" had been taken and that there was "a Moral Certainty of being plentifully furnished."23 After the Board of War was reorganized in October 1777, it served as the channel for submitting estimates to Congress.
There is nothing to indicate that Mease gave much thought to the kind of organization he would need to establish or to the controls he would have to institute. He at once appointed Charles Young as his assistant. Congress allowed Mease as many clerks and storekeepers as he needed to carry on the work of his department. It also authorized him to appoint an agent in each state to purchase on a commission basis such fabrics and clothing as were appropriate for use by the Continental Army and available on the domestic market. Some of the states, however, already had purchasing agents or commissaries at work, having responded to the recommendation made by Congress in September 1776. If they were capable men, it would be desirable, Washington advised Mease, to continue employing them.24
Before the end of 1777 Congress again directed the Clothier General to appoint a deputy in each state if he had not already done so. The deputies' duties now included receiving cloth being imported by Congress, having it made into uniforms, and forwarding the finished articles to the Continental Army. Mease had already appointed Samuel Otis as his agent in Massachusetts; he now appointed Otis as his deputy in that state and William Gardner in New Hampshire.25 He retained the services of his partner, Samuel Caldwell, in Pennsylvania. Raymond Demere later be came a deputy in Georgia, as John Sandford Dart did in South Carolina.26
23. (1) Ibid., 7:420-22 (to Mease, 17 Apr 77). (2) Washington Papers, 47:11 (Mease to Washington, 12 May 77).
24. (1) Ibid., 39:107 (Mease to Washington, 21 Jan 77). (2) Fitzpatrick, Writings of Washington, 7:247-49 (to Mease, 4 Mar 77). (3) JCC, 6:1059-60 (31 Dec 76).
25. Otis, a Boston merchant, had participated in clothing procurement since the summer of 1776 when he was a member of a Massachusetts committee engaged in buying clothing for the Continental Army. He served not only as a deputy in the Clothing Department but as a purchasing agent for Maj. Gen. Nathanael Greene when he became Quartermaster General. The firm of Otis and Andrews became Otis and Henley following the death of Andrews. The partners were active purchasing agents throughout the war. (1) See Force, Am. Arch., 5th set., 1:309 (Mass. Assembly resolve, 2 Jul 76). (2) For services to the Quartermaster's Department, see APS, Greene Letters, 9:85 (Otis to Greene, 10 Jan 79). (3) RG 11, CC Papers, item 173, 4:101--03 (Greene to Otis, 11 Feb 79).
26. (1) For references to the deputies, see JCC, 6:1059-60 (31 Dec 76); 9:893, 1022-23 (12 Nov and 12 Dec 77); 11:850-51 (29 Aug 78); 12:925, 982 (18 Sep and 5 Oct 78). (2) RG 11, CC Papers, reel 99, item 78, 15:333-34 (Demere to Mease, 20 Mar 78).
These last two deputies, however, were not appointed by Mease, who apparently exercised no supervision over deputies remote from his area of operations at Philadelphia and Lancaster, Pennsylvania.
In addition to this civil arm of the Clothing Department, Mease also had personnel with the Continental Army in the field. When Congress adopted the procedure of deducting from a soldier's pay the cost of the clothing issued to him, the paymaster of a regiment became a kind of agent, or subclothier, under the direction of the Clothier General, receiving the clothing for a regiment and making the proper cost deductions from the muster rolls.27 In the summer of 1777 Congress modified this procedure somewhat. It directed the Clothier General to determine how many assistant clothiers would be necessary for the Continental Army and detachments. It ordered him to appoint the assistant clothiers without delay and report their names to Congress. Each assistant clothier received a proportion of the clothing on hand, for which he gave a receipt. He issued to each noncommissioned officer and soldier the clothing that was due to him by the articles of enlistment and took receipts for it. Each assistant clothier also supplied such other clothing as was necessary. Congress directed Mease to furnish each assistant clothier with the names of the noncommissioned officers and soldiers of the division or corps to which he was assigned who had received their clothing bounty or any part of it, as well as an account of the men's indebtedness for articles of clothing. On the first day of each month the assistant clothier submitted the indebtedness accounts to the regimental paymaster, who made the proper deductions from the soldiers' pay and delivered the money to the assistant clothier. He, in turn, delivered the money to the Clothier General. Proper receipts were taken at each step in this procedure. Congress fixed the pay of an assistant clothier at 50 dollars a month with the rations of a captain.28
Multiplicity of Purchasing Agents
The Clothing Department under Mease achieved no centralized control of procurement in the domestic market. Responsibility for procurement abroad of clothing and textiles remained in the Continental Congress. While the states and the Continental Congress competed for supplies from European and West Indian markets, the Clothier General found himself in competition with agents of the states for such articles of clothing as could be procured in the states. With commissions being paid
27. (1) JCC, 5:479 (25 Jun 76). (2) Fitzpatrick, Writings of Washington, 10:239-40.
28. JCC, 8:690-92, 697 (28 and 29 Aug 77). On 4 March 1778 Congress specifically directed the appointment by the Clothier General of an assistant clothier to be stationed with the ftoops on the Hudson River to superintend the procuring and distributing of clothing there. See 10:221.
to purchasing agents, admonitions to them to refrain from competition went unheeded.
There were also agents purchasing clothing under orders of officers of the Continental Army. This procedure was not uncommon early in the war. When Mease first became Clothier General, for example, Brig. Gen. Samuel Holden Parsons had contracted to have clothing made for regiments he was raising in Connecticut. In this case Washington recommended that he turn over these contracts to the Clothing Department's state deputy so that they could thereafter be handled through the office of the Clothier General.29 On the other hand, Brig. Gen. Anthony Wayne, at a much later date, purchased 650 uniforms for his Pennsylvania troops by using Paul Zantzinger as his agent rather than relying on the efforts of Mease. The Clothing Department handled payment for the uniforms, however, when Zantzinger produced vouchers for the cost and proper receipts for the delivery of the uniforms.30 It is understandable that troops as remote from the Clothing Department as those at Fort Pitt would make no applications for supplies. Instead, at the request of the Board of War, Congress advanced funds to Capt. James O'Hara to purchase locally shoes, hats, and blankets. In addition, the specialized clothing needed by the dragoons led Congress to allow its purchase by officers belonging to such regiments.31 And when necessity demanded, officers on detachment procured articles of clothing from inhabitants, giving them certificates or orders on the Clothier General entitling them to payment. Unfortunately, when they presented these certificates, the Clothier General could not pay because regulations did not authorize him to do so. Eventually, the Board of War induced Congress to correct this situation by authorizing payment.32 Obtaining an accurate return of clothing stocks on hand at any given time must have been an impossibility under existing practices in procurement, transportation, and delivery.
Less than a year after his appointment, Mease sought to be relieved of his duties. Complaints against the Clothier General had increased as the scarcity of clothing brought suffering to the troops. By the time they marched to Valley Forge in December 1777, the shortages of blankets and warm clothing had become acute. Mease had demonstrated no great administrative talent in shaping his department, but the distress caused by the lack of clothing cannot be attributed solely to his shortcomings. The breakdown in
29. Fitzpatrick, Writings of Washington, 7:156-57 (to Parsons, 18 Feb 77).
30. JCC, 9:1016-17 (10 Dec 77); 10:83-84 (22 Jan 78).
31. (1) Ibid., 9:872 (6 Nov 77); 11:494 (13 May 78). (2) See also Fitzpatrick, Writings of Washington, 13:391-92 (to Bd of War, 13 Dec 78).
32. JCC, 13:275-79 (5 Mar 79).
transportation prevented the movement of clothing as well as of rations. Moreover, handicapped by the failure of promised imports to arrive, Mease could procure only such limited supplies as were available in the states. Nor did the funds at his disposal permit the payment of the exorbitant prices demanded by those merchants who had supplies to sell.
Pleading ill health as Mifflin had done, Mease sent his resignation to Washington on 16 December 1777. He offered to continue in the department until a successor could be found. Washington made no comment about the resignation, but a week later he complained to Congress that he was receiving little assistance from the Clothier General. Mease was invited to appear before the congressional committee that had come to Valley Forge, but he remained at Lancaster, still pleading ill health. He wrote that he was sure "a candid scrutiny of affairs" would make it clear to the committee that all the complaints against his department had their foundation in a lack of funds rather than in any neglect to procure such clothing and fabrics as were to be had.33 Mease could not be faulted when he referred to a lack of funds. It is questionable, however, whether he can be absolved from charges of neglect. He appears always to have been most interested in personal profits, as a later arrangement with Maj. Gen. Benedict Arnold at the time of the reoccupation of Philadelphia made clear.34
Supplies could be obtained, or so Samuel Otis of the firm of Otis and Andrews in Boston made evident, provided, of course, that the Clothier General made funds available. When Mease appointed Otis a purchasing agent for the Continental forces in November 1777, the latter dispatched, within ten days of the receipt of his appointment, twelve wagons with "sundry articles." Soon Otis was loading a "3d brigade with plain coatings" for the army at Valley Forge. He could not understand why application had not been made sooner to the eastern states, where ports were open and large amounts of clothing had been accumulated. If supplied with money and wagons, he assured Washington late in December 1777, he could furnish the troops with good clothing.35 Unfortunately, sufficient money for procurement and wagons were the very items the Clothing Department lacked.
Otis clearly did not feel himself governed by the same monetary restraints that hampered Mease in his efforts to procure clothing. Otis had entered into contracts with various people in Massachusetts, Congress discovered, for a large quantity of clothing "at the most extravagant rate of 10 to 18 hundred per cent" higher than the prices set by Congress for clothing furnished the troops. Some of the holders of the goods even refused to
33. (1) Washington Papers, 63:28 (Mease to Washington, 16 Dee 77). (2) Fitzpatrick, Writings of Washington, 10: 195 (to Pres of Cong, 23 Dec 77). (3) RG 11, CC Papers, item 31, fol. 43 (Mease to Francis Dana, 30 Jan 78).
34. See below, Chapter 14.
35. Washington Papers, 63:105 (to Washington, 24 Dec 77).
deliver until they were paid in cash. An alarmed Congress directed Otis to pay only for such clothing as he had already received. It recommended that the Massachusetts legislature seize the undelivered clothing, fixing the prices to be paid for it in line with earlier resolutions of the Continental Congress.36
Otis' optimistic views on clothing supply led Washington to question why a clothing shortage should exist. Exasperated with Mease, who lingered at Lancaster despite orders to report to camp, he demanded an investigation of the Clothing Department. Beyond appointing a committee of three on 19 April to confer with Mease, however, Congress took no action.37 There the matter rested until the summer of 1778 when Washington again voiced his criticism of the department. Unless clothing supply was better regulated and put under the direction of "a different Head," he was convinced, the Continental Army would never be clothed. He found Mease unfit for the post he occupied. Washington charged him with failure to appear at camp where duty demanded his presence, with lack of industry, and with an "unaccommodating cast of temper." The latter caused conflicts with officers who had to transact business with him and resulted in a steady stream of complaints to Washington. His agents, too, whether "from inability or a want of industry, or proper instructions from their principal," were incompetent. In Washington's opinion, it was "want of proper exertions and provident management" to procure supplies that had brought distress to the troops rather than any real scarcity of clothing. To the lack of clothing he attributed not only the deterioration of the soldiers' spirit and pride but also desertion and death. Washington's exasperation is understandable. The scarcity of clothing at Valley Forge in the winter of 1777-78 and throughout the following spring, however, cannot be attributed wholly to the failure of Mease and his deputies to exert themselves. As already noted, a shortage of funds that plagued the Clothing Department as it did other supply agencies was a major factor in causing the clothing deficiencies. Contributing to the same shortage was the continued unwillingness of traders to sell clothing at prices deemed reasonable by Congress.38
Congress referred Washington's letter to a committee that brought in a report on 19 August 1778. It recommended that in the future the states provide the clothing for their respective quotas of troops in the Continental Army. It offered a number of resolutions for the consideration of Congress. One proposal was that Mease and his agents make no more purchases and that all supplies in their custody be turned over to a person appointed by Congress to receive them. It suggested that each state select an agent who would be stationed with the Continental Army and would issue clothing for
36. JCC, 9:1071-73 (31 Dec 77). See also 9:1043-44 (20 Dec 77).
37. (1) Fitzpatrick, Writings of Washington, 11:240 (to Pres of Cong, 10 Apr 78). Washington ordered Mease to come to camp on 17 April and again on 16,May, but it was June before Mease appeared. See 11:269-70, 398; 12:50. (2) JCC, 10:366.
38. Fitzpatrick, Writings of Washington, 12:278-79 (to Pres of Cong, 4 Aug 78).
its respective quota of troops. Any clothing imported on the account of the United States should be distributed proportionately among the states or their agents for the use of their troops. Any clothing furnished as a bounty under the resolutions of Congress should be paid for by the United States. Finally, the committee proposed that Congress direct Washington to appoint a court of inquiry to investigate the conduct of Mease and his agents in order to ascertain whether "the grievous Sufferings of the Army for Want of Cloathing have been owing to his or their Misconduct or Neglect of Duty." Mease was to be suspended from office pending the results of the inquiry.
Congress postponed consideration of this report until the first week of October 1778, when it referred it to still another committee. The latter's report was practically the same as the one submitted in August, although the committee proposed substituting the Board of War for the Commander in Chief as the agency for conducting the inquiry into the conduct of the Clothing Department.39 There is no evidence that Congress ever took any action of this report. Mease, however, had written to the President of Congress, enclosing his earlier letter of resignation to Washington to prove that he had remained in office reluctantly and only until a successor could be appointed. He again submitted his resignation with a request that Congress choose "as soon as they conveniently can" some suitable successor. Until then he would continue to serve. Congress took no action; it ordered the letter "to lie on the table till the affairs of the clothier's department are taken into consideration."40
When Congress sent a committee to camp at the end of 1778 to confer with Washington on his problems in general, he again urged a reorganization of the Clothing Department. He reviewed at length the problems of clothing supply and repeated a number of suggestions for reform that he had first advanced a year earlier to the congressional committee at Valley Forge.41 He urged that "some plan should if possible be concerted to produce regular and constant Supplies." It was up to Congress to determine the method that would best produce this result, but Washington preferred to rely on government contracts with France because only the funds and credit of the United States were sufficient for the large quantity of supplies required. If the states alone were to provide for their quotas of troops, they would
39. JCC, 11:812-13 (19 Aug 78); 12:996-97 (9 Oct 78).
40. (1) Ibid., 12:937 (21 Sep 78). (2) RG It, CC Papers, item 78, 15:381 (Mease to Henry Laurens, 19 Sep 78).
41. Fitzpatrick, Writings of Washington, 14:35-42 (to Committee of Conference, 23 Jan 79); see 10:383-87 (to committee of Congress, 29 Jan 78).
have to depend on private mercantile contracts. Supplies would not be ample, he predicted, because of the many impediments that "now lie in the way of trade."
To have sufficient supplies on hand, Washington argued, larger quantities ought to be procured than were needed. Cargoes, moreover, ought to be "assorted," for then the loss of one parcel "would not derange the whole Stock" of a particular supply. If by good fortune the whole quantity of one supply arrived safely and was more than what the Continental Army required, the surplus could be sold for a profit. Pursuing this point, he recommended the importation of cloth rather than clothing; the material could then be made up into clothing only as needed. In any case, he wrote, every regiment had tailors who could do the work and who would provide uniforms with a better fit.
Whether the United States or each state undertook to purchase the clothing for the troops, Washington thought a definite organization consisting of a Clothier General, state, or sub-clothiers, and regimental clothiers was essential for handling distribution. The Clothier General was needed to furnish estimates of needed supplies, to receive the supplies, to superintend their distribution to the state clothiers, and to keep an account of what they received at stated periods of 3, 6, or 12 months. He would stand between the government and the Continental Army to see that the first was not imposed upon and that the Army got what was duly allowed. He would also stand between the United States and each state, for it would be his responsibility to settle all accounts with the state clothiers according to actual deliveries and also to provide for the Cavalry, Artillery, and all corps not belonging to, and hence not supplied by, a particular state.
Washington thought that state clothiers should be appointed by their own states, especially if each state was to provide for its own troops. If the Continental Army was to be supplied by the United States, each state clothier would receive the proportion of clothing for the troops of his state from the Clothier General. He would issue to the regimental clothiers and keep exact accounts with each regiment. He would inspect the accounts of the regimental clothiers to see that the articles delivered were duly issued to the troops, that the cost of all clothing above the bounty allowance drawn by the noncommissioned officers and soldiers was charged to them in the monthly payrolls, and that the officers received what was allowed them and no more. If the states were to provide for their ft-oops, the state clothier would call upon the governor or purchasing agent of the state for the needed supplies and would perform these same duties. Washington wanted stricter clothing regulation because soldiers were notoriously careless with clothing and bartered or even gambled it away. He therefore was insistent upon weekly inspection and either the infliction of punishment or a demand for restitution for any item of clothing for which the soldier could not account.
The regimental clothier, who was also the regimental paymaster, would get returns from the captains or other officers commanding companies that specified the mens' names and their particular clothing needs. When consolidated into a regimental return, signed by the commanding officer of the regiment and countersigned by the regimental clothier, this return would be submitted to the state clothier, who would then use it as a voucher, after he made delivery, in his settlement with the Clothier General. The regimental clothier would keep an account with every officer and soldier for every article delivered, taking receipts from them as vouchers for the delivery. He would credit them for the governmental allowance and charge for every item they received, making deductions in the monthly payrolls for whatever they owed. Washington thought that all issues of clothing ought to be made only through these designated channels. This procedure would in the future prevent any unequal distribution of clothing to the regiments or officers and would avoid the confusion and loss that irregular applications from commanding officers to agents in different places had occasioned in the past. If clothiers departed from the rule in one instance, Washington wrote, "it immediately opens a door for endless irregularities and impositions and it becomes impossible to prevent double and unequal drafts or to keep proper accounts either with officers or soldiers."
Washington thought that issues of clothing ought to be made at stated periods in order to promote health, increase uniformity, and foster pride in appearance and thereby raise soldiers in their own esteem. He proposed that issues be made on the first of June and the first of January. In June the issue would be a waistcoat with flannel sleeves, two pairs of linen overalls, a shirt, a black stock, a small round hat, and one pair of shoes; in January, a double-breasted waistcoat to be worn over the summer one, woolen overalls (preferred over a pair of breeches), yam stockings, a shirt, a woolen cap, and a blanket when necessary. He added that if Congress designated and strictly required the use of a specific color for the cloth of each state and for the uniform of each regiment, good results would follow. This action would eliminate interference and competition in the purchase of cloth because the color of one state would not be suitable for another. The use of many colors would keep the demand and the price of any one from increasing. Different colors also would make it easier to distinguish good and bad soldiers and officers. Finally, by settling on one uniform and not permitting changes dictated by the fancy and caprice of a commanding officer, Congress would save officers from the unnecessary expense and trouble caused by such discretionary changes. He even suggested that Congress might settle the design of the uniform, giving each state clothier a pattern from which he would not be permitted to deviate.
Congress received these ideas, but it was in no hurry to act. After two rnonths passed, Washington, in mid-March 1779, urged Congress to decide on a substitute measure if it did not like the plan he had outlined.
When an important matter is suspended for deliberation in Congress, I should be sorry that my sollicitude to have it determined, should contribute to a premature decision. But when I have such striking proofs of public loss and private discontent from the present management of the clothing department. When accts., inadmissible if any system existed, frequently remind of the absolute necessity of introducing one. When I hear as I often do, of large importations of cloathing which we never see, of quantities wasting and rotting in different parts of the Country, the knowledge of which reaches me by chance. When I have reason to believe that the money which has been expended for cloathing the Army, if judiciously laid out and the Cloaths regularly issued would have effectually answered the purpose. And when I have never till now seen it otherwise than half naked. When I feel the perplexity and additional load of business thrown upon me by the irregularity in this department, and by applications from all parts of the Army for relief; I cannot forbear discovering my anxiety to have some plan decided for conducting the business hereafter, in a more provident and consistent manner.42
The Board of War now exerted its influence. Since Congress had suspended purchases by Mease and his agents, it pointed out, the United States had no purchasing agents in the field to buy the goods daily being landed at various ports. Instead, such importations were falling into the hands of private buyers; if action was not taken at once, it wamed, the Continental Army would either be in want or obligated to pay extravagant prices to merchants and speculators. The appointment of purchasing agents was necessary. If the Clothing Department was not reorganized, the Board of War thought, procurement might be more appropriately handled by the Commerce Committee rather than itself because the committee had a better knowledge of mercantile affairs. Congress acted favorably upon this recommendation, directing the Commerce Committee to procure such clothing as the Board of War from time to time indicated.43 The board expected the Commerce Committee to make a speedy purchase of necessary articles in the hands of various traders, and it immediately presented an estimate of needed articles to that committee. Unfortunately, the Commerce Committee judged that it could procure supplies only by importation, and it returned the estimate to the Board of War. Once again the board appealed to Congress. It pointed out that its experience indicated that Congress ought to appoint one person to make purchases and another to superintend the making and issuing of the clothing. No one man, it contended, could conduct both branches of the business. The only action Congress took was to authorize the Board of War to appoint a person to purchase until Congress issued further orders. The board's efforts to be relieved of the responsibility for purchasing clothing for the Army had failed.44
42. Fitzpatrick, Writings of Washington, 14:244-45 (to Pres of Cong, 15 Mar 79).
43. JCC, 13:273-74 (5 Mar 79).
44 . (1) RG 11, CC Papers, reel 158, 2:139-41 (Bd of War to Pres of Cong, 23 Mar 79). (2) JCC, 13:429-30 (8 Apr 79); 15:1077 (17 Sep 79).
On 23 March 1779 Congress enacted its first ordinance for regulating the Clothing Department, adopting Washington's proposal to organize the department under a Clothier General, state clothiers, and regimental clothiers. Congress appointed the Clothier General, who was subject to the orders of the Board of War and the Commander in Chief. Each state appointed a state clothier, who was answerable to it for his conduct though in case of neglect or misbehavior the Commander in Chief could remove him. Handicapped by fiscal difficulties, Congress made no provision, however, for any centralized control of purchases. In lieu of Washington's proposal that purchase be made either by the United States or by the states, Congress adopted a plan involving both. Under the regulation the Board of War delivered to the Clothier General all clothing supplies imported and all purchased by Continental agents within the United States. Of these supplies, each state clothier received from the Clothier General that proportion of the imported clothing assigned to the troops of his state as well as all clothing purchased at the expense of the United States by state agents within his state. In accordance with Washington's recommendations, overalls were substituted for breeches, and the purchase of textiles was given preference over the purchase of ready-made clothing. Congress, however, did not prescribe the design and color of the uniform but left that task to Washington.45
These resolutions contained one serious oversight. Regarding the distribution of clothing by state clothiers, the regulation made no provision for taking care of those units of the Continental Army that did not belong to any state. Congress did not correct this omission until 16 November 1779. It then authorized the appointment of a subclothier to receive from the Clothier General and the several state clothiers, and then to distribute, the proportion of clothing assigned to the Artillery, Cavalry, artificers, and corps composed of troops from different states.46 Unfortunately, the regulation overlooked the needs of officers commanding in corps unconnected with the lines of particular states. Washington later warned Congress that if it did not take effective measures to provide for these officers, they would be unable to remain in service. Aides-de-camp not belonging to the line and many staff officers were equally distressed by their lack of clothing.47
Congress had directed the Board of War to report on the salaries to be given to the officers of the reorganized Clothing Department. On 5 April Congress authorized less generous terms than the board had proposed four
45. lbid., 13:353-57.
46. Ibid., 15:1275-76.
47. Fitzpatrick, Writings of Washington, 18:207-11 (to Pres of Cong, 3 Apr 80). See also 18:46-47 (to Joseph Reed, 23 Feb 80); 117-18 (to Col Josiah Staff, 16 Mar 80).
days earlier. It set the salary of the Clothier General at 5,000 dollars per year. It called upon the states to determine the pay of the state clothiers, allowing each two rations and forage for one horse per day during the time they were in actual service. Congress fixed an allowance of 30 dollars a month in addition to their pay in the line for regimental clothiers. It also allowed the Clothier General one clerk, who received the same allowance as clerks of the Continental Army auditors.48
Washington thought this regulation would remove many of the difficulties under which the Continental Army had labored. The failure of Congress and the states to put it immediately into effect, however, must have raised some doubts. On 29 May arrangements still had not been completed. The appointment of Pennsylvania's state clothier to reside at camp, Joseph Reed informed Washington, would be "unseasonable" at that time.49 On 27 June Washington found it necessary to inquire whether Mease was still Clothier General.
I am at a loss to know to whom I am to address myself, as head of the Clothier's department. Every deputy seems to act by a separate and independent authority. There seems to be no person to take a general superintendency, to apportion the stock on hand to the different parts of the Army, their numbers and wants; and to preserve a common rule in the mode of delivery. For want of this while the troops at one post are amply supplied, those at another are suffering the greatest distress.50
Congress, in fact, had elected Peter Wikoff to the post of Clothier General three days earlier, but on 9 July 1779 he declined the appointment because he considered the salary in depreciated currency wholly inadequate. George Measarn, who had continued to serve in the Clothing Department since his appointment as commissary of clothing for the Northern Army in the fall of 1776, solicited appointment to the office as the senior officer in the department, but he failed to obtain it. Congress proceeded to elect Perzifor Frazer to the post, but he too refused it, explaining that "the salary annexed is by no means equal to the post."51
Appointment of James Wilkinson
Finally, on 24 July 1779 Congress elected James Wilkinson as Clothier General. He enthusiastically accepted, only too happy to be back with the
48. JCC, 13:422 (5 Apr 79). For the Board of War's report,
49. (1) Fitzpatrick, Writings of Washington, 14:340 (to Maj Gen Alexander McDougall, 5 Apr 79). (2) Washington Papers, 109:12 (Reed to Washington, 29 May 79).
50. Fitzpatrick, Writings of Washington, 15:329 (to Pres of Cong, 27 Jun 79).
51. (1) JCC, 14;765 (24 Jun 79); 836 (15 Jul 79); 853 -54 (19 Jul 79). (2) RG 11, CC Papers, item 78, 15:453-55 (Measam to Bd of War, 31 May 79); item 78, 24:53 (Wikoff to Pres of Cong, 9 Jul 79); reel 49, item 41, 3:93-94 (Frazer to Cong, 19 Jul 79).
Continental Army and "its lengthening horizons of opportunity."52 Wilkinson had resigned from the Army on 6 March 1778. He had seen service in the Northern Department, and, much to the disgust of other officers, he had been brevetted brigadier general in November 1777 for carrying General Gates' Saratoga victory dispatch to Congress. During his service in the Northern Department, he had acquired a reputation for stirring up controversy among the officers. Characteristically, en route to Philadelphia with Gates' dispatch, he had lost no opportunity to repeat a contemptuous remark that Brig. Gen. Thomas Conway had made in a letter to Gates, to the effect that "Heaven has been determined to save your country, or a weak general and bad counsellors would have ruined it."53 Wilkinson's appointment could scarcely have been pleasing to Washington, and a cool reception awaited him when he joined Washington's staff. When Wilkinson communicated with the Commander in Chief in September 1778, the latter responded routinely with instructions concerning places of deposit for clothing and preparation of supplies for the winter. He pointed out the necessity of caring for the immediate needs of the soldiers. Then, with past experience in mind, Washington added:
The inconvenience and load of business which has been heretofore thrown on me,
52. (1) JCC, 14:844. (2) RG 11, CC Papers, item 78, 24:59 (Wilkinson to Pres of Cong, 25 Jul 79).
53. (1) George F. Sheer and Hugh F. Rankin, Rebels and Redcoats (New York, Mentor Book ed., 1957), pp. 338, 339-40. (2) James R. Jacobs, Tarnished Warrior (New York, 1938), pp. 46, 53-56. (3) Though Wilkinson continued to be referred to by his brevet rank of brigadier general, the position of Clothier General, as has been indicated, carried no military rank.
for want of system and arrangement in this department, and from the Cloathier's having been very seldom with the Army, induces me to hope, and I persuade myself that it will be the case, that you will use your best exertions to put matters in a proper train, and after you have done it, that you will employ as much of your time with the Army as will be consistent with the great Objects of your appointment.54
Washington's hope died within two months. On 18 November he informed Maj. Gen. William Heath, "I am again reduced to the necessity of acting the part of Clothier General."55 Wilkinson was more often absent than present at headquarters, although it is only fair to note that he left his assistant clothier general, John Moylan, at camp to supervise the issue of clothing to the main Continental army. Wilkinson had appointed Moylan as his assistant on 1 October 1779; he was assisted by two clerks and a laborer. In organizing his department, Wilkinson also had appointed James Bull as a deputy clothier general on 20 September 1779. He was in charge of the clothing magazine at Springfield, Massachusetts, and was assisted by one clerk and six laborers. Another deputy clothier general, appointed on 1 December, took charge of the magazine at Newburgh, New York, while Deputy Clothier General Jacob Howell, appointed on 24 August, directed a third magazine at Philadelphia. The deputies at Newburgh and at Philadelphia each employed one clerk and a laborer.56
Although Wilkinson spent little time at headquarters, he acquired an understanding of the defects of the system under which he was supposed to operate. In October 1780 he presented an able analysis of these shortcomings to Congress and offered a plan for their reformation. Wilkinson pointed out that under the existing system the Board of War or the states through their agents procured all clothing: the board for the Continental Army as a whole, the states for their respective troops and officers. Both charged their purchases to the account of the United States. The inordinate number of purchasing agents operating on a commission basis in itself imposed a heavy burden on the country, but the competition between them was even more injurious in its inflationary effect. In any case. Wilkinson wrote, state procurement was unsatisfactory because some states, such as New York, had been deprived of seaports by British action and could not supply the needs of their troops by purchases abroad, while others were so remote from the area in which their troops served that the transportation of supplies to them was expensive and precarious. Such had been the experience of North Carolinians serving with the main Continental army, and similar inconveniences would be experienced, Wilkinson
54. Fitzpatrick, Writings of Washington, 16:280-82 (13 Sep 79).
55. Ibid., 17:123 (18 Nov 79).
56. RG 11, CC Papers, item 78, 24:249-50 (Wilkinson to Pres of Cong, 21 Mar 81).
predicted, by eastern troops in the event the theater of war moved southward.57
Issue procedures also were inadequate, Wilkinson observed. Issues could not be made in strict conformity to the law of 23 March 1779. In the first place, partial issues were frequently made without the knowledge of the Clothier General or his assistant. In the next place, state clothiers never turned in exact returns of the goods received from their respective states; since such stocks were deducted from their proportion of the general stock supplied by the Clothier General, the less they reported the larger their share was from the general supply. Reform was particularly necessary in the issue of clothing to occasional drafts or levies. They scarcely knew their duty before their terms of service expired, and they departed taking the clothing they had received with them, to the detriment of the soldier who remained in service. If they shared in the distribution of bounty clothing, Wilkinson insisted, the Clothier General would be unable to "check the torrent of dissipation" to which the department had always been subjected. When he took charge of the department, he added, it had been in utter confusion, and though he had attempted to introduce order, the existing arrangements baffled his efforts.
In his plan for regulating the Clothing Department, Wilkinson proposed that the purchase of clothing by the states be abolished. The Clothier General was to receive all clothing imported by Congress and direct all domestic purchases, drawing money from the Continental Treasury on the basis of an estimate covering the annual disbursement of the department. Wilkinson also recommended that the annual clothing bounty, to which he offered ammendments, be distributed regimentally by the Clothier General; that the issues be made on 10 November for the winter clothing and on I May for the summer clothing; and that the issues be made only from the public stores of general issue annexed to the Continental Army or detachments in order to avoid the dissipation of stocks that occurred when issues were made at a variety of posts.58
Congress referred this letter and plan to a committee of three. On 4 November 1780 the latter submitted a proposed regulation that incorporated most of Wilkinson's suggestions, but Congress recommitted it. Two months later the Board of War proposed additional regulations. Weeks passed without congressional action. Clothing preparations for the campaign of 1781 were not being pursued vigorously because Clothier
57. Ibid., 23:237-44 (to Pres of Cong, _ Oct 80).
58. Washington Papers, 154:12-13 (plan, _ Oct 80).
General Wilkinson was determined to resign as soon as his accounts could be settled. The Clothing Department was not functioning adequately. The states depended upon the Continental Congress and the latter upon the states. The result was an insufficient supply of clothing.59 Again in March 1781 the Board of War urged Congress to consider its proposed regulation for the Clothing Department.60 Congress finally adopted a new regulation in June. It suspended all state purchases of clothing charged to the account of the United States, and abolished, effective 1 September, all state appointments and regulations. It required state clothiers to turn over all clothing in their hands to the Clothier General. Under the new provisions, the latter operated his department on the basis of an estimate of clothing and disbursements required for a year beginning on the first of November. He was to submit this estimate in June of each year so that Congress would have time to furnish the funds and adopt the necessary measures for procurement.
The Clothier General issued clothing by regiments, keeping regular accounts with each of the regimental clothiers. The latter settled their accounts with the Clothier General before the day of general issue. They received from him certificates of any arrearages of clothing due to the regiments and in turn submitted to him a certified return of the number of men for whom they would draw clothing on the day of general issue. All issues took place only at magazines or places of general issue with the Continental Army. Detachments obtained their clothing from magazines at camp before they left on assignment. The Clothier General or his assistants issued no clothing except by this method of return and certificates. Summer clothing was to be ready for issue on 15 April and winter clothing on I November. Actual delivery was made at the time directed by the commanding general. Furthermore, no clothing was furnished to any noncommissioned officer or soldier who was not enlisted for at least one year or for the duration of the war.
The Clothier General notified the Paymaster General of any extra issues of clothing made to the troops so that he could make deductions from their pay. The Clothier General also made returns every two months of the clothing on hand and of the personnel he employed. On his requisition, the Quartermaster General and his deputies furnished the means for transporting clothing and appointed a wagonmaster or conductor to accompany the clothing on the road. The latter was responsible for any damages or losses sustained; if they occurred, he could be tried by court-martial.61
59. Fitzpatrick, Writings of' Washington, 21:74-75 (to Maj Gen Benjamin Lincoln, 9 Feb 81).
60. (1) JCC, 18:932, 1018-21 (16 Oct and 4 Nov 80); 19:11 -13 (2 Jan 81). (2) RG 11, CC Papers, reel 161, 1:325 (Bd of War to Cong, 3 Mar 8 1).
61. JCC, 20:662-67 (18 Jun 81).
This detailed regulation, based on the experience of the Clothing Department, corrected many of the defects that had become apparent during the course of the war. One provision of the new regulation, however, did not meet with Washington's approval. He thought it best for Congress to suspend the part that abolished state appointments and purchases unless it was fully satisfied that it could obtain a sufficient supply by means of its own resources without any aid from the individual states. In the past, he explained, a "peculiar Fatality" seemed to have attended all attempts to obtain clothing from abroad, and he feared that without state aid the troops might be literally naked by another campaign. Congress, however, did not suspend this provision .62
Appointment of John Moylan
Wilkinson had resigned on 27 March 1781, admitting with remarkable candor that he found his "Merchantile knowledge, on thorough examination, inadequate to the just Conduct of the Clothing Department under the proposed establishment."63 His duties had become irksome, and when Congress reduced his salary and then did not pay it promptly, he had additional reasons for relinquishing his office. His assistant, John Moylan, solicited the position, and Congress appointed him Clothier General on 17 April 1781.64 Functioning under a better administrative arrangement than his predecessor, Moylan proved to be a more efficient Clothier General.
Before the war ended certain changes were made in the supervision exercised over his department. When Robert Morris was appointed Superintendent of Finance, he became responsible for the purchase of clothing. About the same time, Congress appointed Maj. Gen. Benjamin Lincoln to the newly created office of Secretary at War, and in April 1782 it placed the Clothing Department under his supervision. Thereafter, until the war ended, the Clothier General submitted estimates to the Superintendent of Finance, who then arranged contracts for the needed supplies. Moylan also applied to Morris for funds to pay workmen for making clothing. He received instructions from the War Office and distributed clothing to the troops under Lincoln's direction.65
62. (1) Fitzpatrick, Writings of Washington, 22:278-79 (to Pres of Cong, 28 Jun 81). (2) Burnett, Letters, 6:142 (Conn. delegates to gov of Conn., 12 Jul 81).
63. RG 11, CC Papers, item 78, 24:297-98 (to Pres of Cong).
64. JCC, 19:402.
65. Ibid., 22:177 (10 Apr 82).
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