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Letters of Major General St.Clair to Secretary of War

Sources & Images
Source Name Image(s)
CollectionNational Archives and Records Administration: Post Revolutionary War Papers, RG94 view image
CollectionNational Archives and Records Administration: Post Revolutionary War Papers, RG94 view image
CollectionNational Archives and Records Administration: Post Revolutionary War Papers, RG94 view image
Document Information
Date December 1, 1792
Author Name John Stagg (primary)
Recipient Name Henry Knox (primary)
Summary These are true extracts of the original letters of Major General St. Clair written to Henry Knox regarding the late Quartermaster General on file in the War Department of the United States as of December 1st, 1792. Conveys concerns and problems with Samuel Hodgdon.
Document Format Extract of Letter
Document Notes Significant portions of the document are missing or illegible.
Content Notes [not available]
Related Persons/Groups Henry Knox; John Stagg; Arthur St. Clair; Samuel Hodgdon; General Butler; recruits; Quartermaster General; contractors; Major Ferguson; troops; artificers; Duer; Captain Snowdon; ;
Related Places Ohio; Pittsburgh; Kentucky; laboratory; Philadelphia; ;
Keywords letters; levies; stores; boats; delay; horse; pack saddles; military stores; casks; cavalry horses; artillery; camp kettles; sheet iron; shot; forage; pasture; cattle; bell; britches; arms; bayonets; blades; lacks; repairs; cartridge boxes; axes; traveling forges; anvil; tools; list of grievances; wagons; baggage; houses; rendezvous; saw; tents; provisions; ;
Key Phrases [not available]

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Copy of General St. Clairs Letter to the Secretary of War1791
[stamped]Received from State Dept. Nov. 24. 189[undecipherable]R.P.O.401310
Extracts from Major general St. [Clair's] [undecipherable] Secretary of War relative to the late Quarter [master general]
25th: April 1791
I had some expectation that Mr. Hodgdon might have been here, but I will leave some general directions for him, and for the rest General Butler must [undecipherable] my place.
Neither recruits nor Levies are [undecipherable] here, nor the Quarter master, but I [presume?] [undecipherable] will arrive soon--the season is advancing [undecipherable] done--
[The Ohio] river is now [undecipherable] [undecipherable] me the greatest anxiety for the [undecipherable] and stores--if the boats do not make [undecipherable] [undecipherable] in a very few days, it will be with [undecipherable] difficulty they will get on at all. I hear [nothing] of Mr. Hodgdon, where is he, or what is he doing?
26th June--
I had a letter from Genl Butler at Pittsburgh of the 3d instant--the following is an extract from that letter--"my greatest apprehensions of delay are in the Quarter master's and Contractor's departments--I hear of of no horse purchasers except for one [hundred] cavalry--their equipments arrived--not [undecipherable] troops
come [undecipherable] saddles that are come on from Philadelphia [undecipherable] unfit for service--for fear of a total disappointment [undecipherable] good pack saddles, I have ordered 300 made here.
I have written to Colonel Hodgdon, and enclosed him a copy of the return [Major Ferguson's for military stores], but I hope he will not receive it at Pittsburgh.
Extract from Major Ferguson's letter to Genl St. Clair June [undecipherable] beg leave to report that the casks in [undecipherable] was Last sent were very slight and not [undecipherable], also the musket cartridge paper [undecipherable] the proper sort being too easily torn, [undecipherable] [undecipherable] cartridges made of [undecipherable] will not bear [undecipherable]
6 July. [undecipherable] Hodgdon, who arrived at Pittsburgh on the 10[undecipherable] wrote to me from thence on the 22nd he does not propose to leave it until he has forwarded the cavalry horses and those for the artillery and 2 pack horses he has engaged there--at the same time he says he depends chiefly upon Kentucky. I have ordered him to repair to this place immediately, and leave the embarkation at Pittsburgh to the [undecipherable] some other person, but I hope the orders will [undecipherable] him there--I imagine he does not
take [undecipherable] [fore] now have had every thing so order [undecipherable] for the whole, or in part that might be defi[undecipherable] those departments, as that we could have marched with certainty at a given day, after the troops were assembled--it may be done yet, if they would come forward, but the whole operation seems to me to be put back a month at least----
As I am perfectly in the dark about the time I may expect the troops to be assembled here--Mr. [undecipherable] [undecipherable] for the transportation of the provisions[undecipherable] at the Quarter master has done, or is doing [undecipherable] wait yet a few days before the ultimate[undecipherable] are directed [the [undecipherable] in the above [undecipherable] [undecipherable] [undecipherable] of pack horses and endorsing [undecipherable] bills.]
24 July--[undecipherable] without any account of Genl Butler[undecipherable] Quarter master, nor is there either man or hose arrived.
---it is impossible for me to stir one step in [undecipherable] [the preparations for the [undecipherable]] beyond what can be done at this place in the Laboratory and with the artificers, and in deed it looks to me as if the expectations of the public would be disappointed[undecipherable] were all the troops, and stores arrived at [undecipherable] it would be the beginning of
know that he has a desert of eighty [undecipherable] [undecipherable] traverse before he gets to the inhabited parts [of Kentuckey] from hence, and that the inhabitants [undecipherable] over a great extent of country.
If there is much dependence placed upon this quarter for camp kettles, as the sheet iron that has been sent here will make but 130--there may be a disappointment. I wrote to Mr. Hodgdon on the 26th June on this subject.
There are not any shot [undecipherable] the three pounders.
[undecipherable] My last was of the 6th instant[undecipherable] [undecipherable] have written you again [undecipherable] [undecipherable] [undecipherable] in hopes from day to day, that I should [undecipherable] announce to you that the Army was formed [undecipherable] at Least that all the arrangements in [the Quarter master's] department and the Commissaries were [undecipherable], for which there has been time sufficient; but I am still disappointed--I cannot yet inform you that one of them has taken place--not a man has arrived from Pittsburgh since my last-- nor have I heard from Mr. Hodgdon since 22d of Last month, and am not at all informed of what he is doing; nor from Mr. Duer, or any person for him at all --[undecipherable] only informed & by those gentlemen what [undecipherable] they were
September before the army could [undecipherable] [undecipherable] Quarter master is bringing with him [undecipherable] the upper country, which, whether he is [undecipherable] has not . . . thought fit to inform me; and if he is, it is an ill advised measure, as the horses will be much injured by being as crouded together in boats for ten or twelve days at the least and a considerable expence incurred; and when the army does move, as roads must be cut all the way, its progress cannot be very rapid.
I have likewise a letter [undecipherable] Butler of the 12th ---- [undecipherable] [undecipherable] also [undecipherable] [undecipherable] and as soon as the pack horses are [undecipherable] [undecipherable], but should my letter of the 6th reach [undecipherable] [undecipherable] it adviseable to be a little earlier [undecipherable][undecipherable] has sent forward has been damaged and [undecipherable] of it lost by the boats running a ground, [undecipherable] presume upon pasture and a supply of forage for them here; But there is no pasture here but the woods, and that near us is [consumed already] by the cattle, and he has not sent on a single bell for the horses, so that it is almost certain certain when they are turned out, many of them will be lost and the person he depended upon for a farther supply of forage, an inhabitant here [undecipherable]; in short Sir his arrangements altogether seem [undecipherable] been taken
with [undecipherable] [undecipherable] thought.
[undecipherable] informed you what steps I have taken, which [are provisional] only; but at present it has the appearance that I must take the whole duty of providing for the transportation upon myself for it is not likely that either Mr. Duer's agents, or the Quarter Master will be forward in time--I will delay it however as long as possible without manifest injury to the service---
3d August. [undecipherable] [undecipherable] with respect to the Cavalry [undecipherable][undecipherable] happened, notwithstanding [undecipherable] [undecipherable] sent [undecipherable] [undecipherable] them--Seventy [undecipherable] [undecipherable] the [undecipherable] night, as early as [undecipherable] [undecipherable] was sent in search of them, and [undecipherable] recovered except twenty seven, which are [undecipherable] -- I have forbidden their being let out without being fettered, as there was a person sent down to take care of them as a conductor, it could not enter into my head that it should be necessary to give him such a direction in [undecipherable] instance.
Whoever Sir, has had the care of putting the arms in order in Philadelphia has done it very unfaithfully--many of the britches are so put in that they [undecipherable] the touchholes--many of the pans so fitted [undecipherable] [undecipherable] holes lye too high--few of the
bayonets have been fitted to the [undecipherable] the blades standing on one side and some[undecipherable], and a great many of the locks out [undecipherable]-- the repairs they consequently demand here are endless, and have kept other things equally necessary back--and amongst the troops who last arrived many of the cartridge boxes are extremely bad and must be repaired before they take the field.
The number of axes in store here is next to nothing, and I do not find that[undecipherable] coming on but one hundred perhaps, [undecipherable] [undecipherable]ductor of military stores informs me [that he] has ordered in [undecipherable] [undecipherable] The [undecipherable] [undecipherable] to work to make what they can, [undecipherable] [undecipherable] could think of axes and order one [undecipherable], I can not conceive--entrenching [undecipherable] like proportions.
Two travelling forges are arrived, said to be complete, but there is not an anvil to either, and these are extremely wanted in the shops at this moment--[undecipherable] for sale in the [undecipherable] which I have ordered to be purchased, another, for we cannot do without--another must be hired.
I have mentioned the travelling forges before, while I am writing Major [undecipherable] calls upon me to inform me that the boxes [undecipherable] instead
of [undecipherable] [undecipherable] nothing but axes and screw drivers--it is [undecipherable] [that] this may have been an error in the [undecipherable] and that some box marked axes may be found to contain the tools--but I will put an end to this long epistle, which I am afraid you may call a list of grievances and perhaps it may deserve the name--We shall remedy them I trust, nevertheless it is proper you should be acquainted with them, and but for the assistance of Major Ferguson [undecipherable] would be remediless.
8th August. [undecipherable] Mr. Hodgdon made his appearance [undecipherable rest of line]sent [undecipherable] [undecipherable] with the last military stores as [undecipherable] who is unfit for any thing and [undecipherable] [undecipherable] I can get no account of them but boxes [undecipherable] contents unknown--which puts it out of my power to make the calculation for carriage, or, indeed to know what I have, or what is wanted.
It is past a doubt that the army cannot move this month--I am [undecipherable] taking my [undecipherable] for the first of next, and indeed they have been delayed so long in expectation of the Quarter Master that there is danger some of them may not accord at the [undecipherable] and are founded upon the expectation [undecipherable] from Pittsburgh.
to do [undecipherable] [undecipherable] great deal of country to go over before [undecipherable] complete it -- I hope and trust this will not find you still at Pittsburgh, but if it should you are immediately to repair to this place with all the expedition you can make."
You will observe from my letter of the 8th that I have taken measures for procuring two hundred horses, which added to those I had reason to expect from Pittsburgh will I believe be sufficient--when [undecipherable] Pittsburgh will arrive I can form no judgment [undecipherable] seems probably that a part of the [undecipherable] removed yet. I [undecipherable] the constant [undecipherable] [undecipherable] [undecipherable] don's [undecipherable] the uncertainty about the measures [undecipherable] [undecipherable] unavoidably thrown a degree of in[undecipherable] the preparations on my part that has given [undecipherable] great deal of uneasiness--at the same time [undecipherable], I can assure you, except providing for the Quarter master's department, nothing, since the arrival of Major Ferguson has been delayed a moment [undecipherable] be [undecipherable] [undecipherable] but every thing was then to begin, even to the making the tools with which the artificers were to work ---
From not having attended to the total of the horses [undecipherable] Genl Butler had ordered Mr. Hodgdon to procure [undecipherable] Pittsburgh, I mistook 16 for 116 draught
I have likewise ordered [undecipherable] hundred pack horses to be purchased for the Quarter master's department, and have applied for them to a person, whom Mr. Hodgdon had some dependance upon--I have not--and have therefore sent a person to him who, in case he has them not provided, is empowered to purchase the whole or any part that may be deficient in that number--I have also ordered twenty five of a Superior quality to supply the loss of the Cavalry horses, twenty three or four of which are still [undecipherable] They have been taken out of the care of [undecipherable] Horsemaster, a man that never was in [undecipherable] his life [undecipherable rest of line]care of Capt. Snowden---
17th August--Had he ([undecipherable] [undecipherable] paid attention to the directions I left [undecipherable] that Pittsburgh, to turn off the waggons [undecipherable] which would not have encreased the land carriage as single mile and to send the empty boats there, the difficulties between Pittsburgh and that place, which it is to be feared [undecipherable] found [undecipherable] would have been avoided.
Mr. Hodgdon has not written to me, and I cannot account for his not obeying my order of the 6th of July--which was [undecipherable] words-- "Time is wearing very fast, and you[undecipherable] yet much
to do