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Letter from General Washington to Colonel Trumbull



Head-Quarters, King' s Bridge, October 20, 1776.

SIR: This is designed to inform you of our alarming situation on account of the state of our provisions. From the last intelligence I have been able to obtain, there are not more than fifteen hundred barrels of flour here and at our posts on the Island of New-York, (including three hundred that came from the Jerseys last night,) and about two hundred barrels of pork; nor do I learn that there are many, or but very few, live cattle collected at any place within the neighbourhood. As the passage across the North River is precarious, and much, if not entirely, in the enemy' s power, but little or no dependence should be had in supplies from that quarter. I must therefore request and entreat your every possible exertion to have large quantities of provisions carried to the interiour parts of the country with the utmost expedition, out of the reach of the enemy, who are trying to penetrate from the Sound, and to form a line in our rear, from whence proper supplies may be immediately drawn for the subsistence of our troops. If this is not done, I fear, I am certain that the fatal consequences attending on mutiny and plunder must ensue; indeed, the latter will be authorized by necessity. I cannot undertake to point out the particular places where stock should be drove to; but it is absolutely necessary that large quantities should be kept in our rear, to be killed or moved, as occasion may require. If the enemy advance from the Sound, so must we. They must never be allowed, if it is possible to avoid it, to get above us, and possess themselves of the upper country. As soon as I heard that they had landed at Frog' s Point, and that they had digested a plan of getting into our rear, I gave orders that the provisions and other stores should be removed from Norwalk, &c, into the country, to the While-Plains, as the first and most convenient stage: whether they have, I have no certain information. In short, sir, I beg that you will have supplies immediately in our rear, to be drawn or moved back, as circumstances may be, or the most fatal and alarming consequences to this army and the liberties of America may, and will in all probability, follow. You must not stop on account of expense, nor to collect large quantities before they are sent off. Ten in a drove will be of material consequence. I have ordered a respectable force for the protection of the provisions now at the Plains.

I am, &c.


To Colonel Jos˙ Trumbull, Commissary-General Provisions.