Difficulty of Providing for the Southern Army

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CollectionNational Archives and Records Administration: 2d Cong, Sec Treas Rep, Vol II, III, IV, RG233 view image
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Document Information
Date February 2, 1783
Author Name Nathaniel Greene (primary) Location: Charleston
Recipient Name Benjamin Lincoln (primary)
Summary Reports that Lieutenant Colonel Carrington has closed a contract with Mr. Banks for the subsistence of Greene's army. Greene reports the difficulty of finding merchants willing to contract with the army. Greene states that he will be able to adequately cloth his troops but at high cost. Most of the goods are in the hands of British merchants who were allowed by the government to ramain in the city. Mr. Banks and Mr. Simmons only will supply his army. Banks has offered the army its greatest supplies. Only Banks and Simmons will accept the Continental Army's bills of credit.
Document Format Letter
Document Notes [not available]
Content Notes Letter titled "Extract of a letter from Major General Greene to Major General Lincoln Secretary at War." All letters in (n)oe09 seem to be associated with document imaged on oe09 but not assigned a document number which is a certification by John Stagg that the documents are true copies taken fron the files of the War Dept. Document is dated 23 Dec. 1791.
Related Persons/Groups Benjamin Lincoln; Nathaniel Greene; Lieutenant Colonel Carrington; principal men; British merchants; government; Mr. Banks; Mr. Simmons; officers; Mr. Hamilton; clothier; ;
Related Places Charleston; Charleston;
Keywords Contract; army; offer; country; spirit; business; troops; clothing; goods; government; bills; purchase; houses; pay; supplies; merchant; opportunity; competitors; letter; credit;
Key Phrases There was not an offer made but by Mr. Banks, although I wrote to all the principal men in the country. People have not that spirit for engaging in business, here, as with us.
Transcription

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C.
Extract of a letter from Major General Greene to Major General Lincoln, Secretary at War, dated
"Headquarters, November 11th 1782
I am taking measures to obtain clothing for the troops. We have on hand but a small part of our winter clothing, and after what we shall be obliged to issue to those troops going northwardly, we shall have but a small pittance left. I imagine, our purchases will amount to not less than forty thousand dollars for which I shall draw bills on the Financier; and, as I provide the clothing, at your instance, and by your order, I hope, you will prepare the Financier for the draughts, that the bills may be punctually paid. I have already drawn in favor of [undecipherable] Banks and Company, for eight thousand dollars, in bills of different values, to secure the clothing, and by this step, I am in hopes to save twenty percent on the goods - I aim to advance twelve hundred guineas, which, I am in hopes to get from M. Hall, the Continental Receiver - You will please to inform M. Morris that I have applied, and propose to appropriate theis sum to the payment of the clothing. If in any thing, I have exceeded your intentions, you will please to inform me. My estimates are barely sufficient for covering the troops, and, as I am informed, the northern army is completely clad, and, as you mention or desire, that this should, I have laid out, accordingly, as far as the articles necessary for the purposes could be had; many things cannot
No. 2
Extract of a letter from Major General Greene to Major General Lincoln, Secretary at War, dated,
"Headquarters, South Carolina," "December 19th 1782."
You will see by some of my former letters, that in consequence of your orders, I had taken measures, to provide such articles of clothing, as were necessary to complete the troops with their winter clothing. Mess.rs Banks and Company have furnished most of the articles we shall want, and will provide the rest. M. Hamilton, the clothier, had instructions to contact with such as would supply on the best terms, notwithstanding this agreement, but none offer their goods equally reasonable, and yet I think they are high: however, the demand among the planters is so great, that they would meet with a ready sale among them, and at an advanced price. Under the circumstances, contracts cannot be made on the best terms. The soldiers' clothing will amount to about fifty thousand dollars. I have advanced to the officers two months pay, by drawing bills on the Financier, which they will negotiate for clothing or other things, as their necessities may urge.
This will swell our drafts, but the peculiar situation of the officers, their long sufferings and distance from home, seem to render it absolutely necessary, some of the officers talk of sending their
their bills to Philadelphia, but I imagine, most of them will be negotiated here with the merchants. I wish not to distress the Financier, but I am distressed myself, and know not which way to turn, to feed, clothe, and satisfy the army on the article of pay. I would much rather, that clothing could have been sent from Philadelphia, but it was too late to expect any for this season: nor would I wish to negotiate pay to the officers, in this way, but from absolute necessity. Troops will meet their sufferings with dignity and patience, when it appears avoidable; but when their distresses continue longer, they grow impatient and clamorous. I have drawn only for such officers as are continued in service, however urgent their necessity, many are discontented, but this I disregard, knowing the state of the Treasury.
No. 3
Extract of a letter from Major General Greene to Major General Lincoln, Secretary at War, dated, "Charleston, February 2nd 1783"
Lieutenant Colonel Barrington has closed a contract with Mr. Banks for the subsistence of the army, at something than eleven pence sterling. It is high, but it could not be had lower. There was not an offer made but by M. Banks, although I wrote to all the principal men in the country. People have not that spirit for engaging in business, here, as with us.
I shall get the troops pretty well clothed, and leave little room for complaint on this head, but, I fear, the expense will run high most
most of the goods being in the hands of British Merchants, who were permitted by government to remain here, and those not willing to take bills, have confined the purchase to very few houses. [undecipherable] Banks and [undecipherable] Simmons, I believe, are all, who have supplied - I gave the officers bills for two months pay but they could negotiate but few, except with [undecipherable] Banks, who has offered us our greatest supplies, but, as every merchant will make an advantage of this opportunity, his goods have been higher, than if there had been many competitors for the business. I gave Mr. Hamilton, the clothier, a letter of general credit, but none would go bravely into the business, except those mentioned, from a dislike to the bills.
No. 4
Copy of a letter from Major General Greene to Major General Lincoln, Secretary at War dated "Head Quarters, South Carolina, "February 5th 1783."
Dear Sir,
An idle surmise of M. Banks, and an improper curiosity of General Scott in the State of Virginia, may give an unjust complexion to the late transaction respecting the measures taken to obtain clothing, as the Governor of Virginia writes, that it was considered a mere speculation for private involvement. For fear, such
rumors should spread to my disadvantage, I take the liberty to enclose you a copy of a certificate from M. Banks; and my letter the 11th of November will give you a full knowledge of the transaction. I do not conceive this necessary for your information, but, should any insinuations originate from the affair in Virginia, I wish to put it in your power to silence them, at once, and I flatter myself, I may hope for this piece of justice from your friendship - Reports are circulated here that M. Harris and M. Banks are concerned together, otherwise he would not have taken my bills. These are done for malicious purposes; but, as I bid defiance to all the world to tax me with improper connection, so I will not suffer even suspicions to circulate without control.
I am, dear Sir
Your most obedient
humble Servant.
Nathaniel Greene.
Major General Lincoln


No. 5
(copy) John Banks's Certificate.
It having been suggested from an interpretation of my letter of October 1782, to M. James Hunter, that the honorable Major General Greene was interested, or intimated a desire of holding a commercial connection with me in Charleston; I do , therefore,
as well for the sake of removing such an idea, as to avert from myself any mischief, that a heedless surmise, expressed in a confidential letter to a partner, might inherit or deserve, hereby certify and declare upon the Holy Evangelists, that he never has or does hold any connection with me, either directly or indirectly, and that he never intimated, suggested, or expressed a wish or desire to this effect.
(signed) John Banks.
Sworn to before me this 3rd January 1783
(signed) [undecipherable] Pendleton


I do certify, that the foregoing extracts of letters from Major General Greene, to Major General Lincoln, Secretary at War, from N.01 to N.5 inclusive, are true extracts and copies, taken from the files of the War Office of the United States.
John Stagg, jur. CH bth.
War Department, December 23d 1794.


D.
Dear Sir, Robert Morris, Esquire, Financier for the United States, has in his advertisements for receiving proposals for contracts for supplying the army with rations, directed them to be made to me, in the States of North and South Carolina and Georgia; but in his letter of the 17th of October, 1782, he