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Letter from the Commissioners at the Fortifications in the Highlands, stating their difficulties in prosecuting the works


A long Letter from Messrs˙ Palmer and Livingston, two of the Commissioners at the Fortifications in the Highlands, on the subject of Provisions, Rum for Fatigue-men, and other matters, was read, and is in the words following, to wit:

"Fort Montgomery, March 28, 1776,

"GENTLEMEN: Fourteen days ago we began at this post with carpenters and masons, and have our buildings now in a fine way. Our storehouse is completed, and a barrack of eighty by twenty feet will, in a few days, be so far finished as to receive one hundred and sixty men; our bake-house, also, almost finished, and a quantity of fascines made, so that we shall soon begin to erect the Battery. We have now here about one hundred and forty men, and expect one company more in two or three days. The greater part have been at this post about six days, quartered in vessels. But the dissatisfaction of the soldiers, with respect to their provision, is so great that they will soon refuse their duty as labourers, and even now do not half the labour that might reasonably be expected from the numbers we have here. As they have nothing more of the usual species of provision allowed a soldier than pork and bread — this, added to their uncomfortable situation on board the sloops, makes them very uneasy and mutinous. We have used our utmost endeavours, with the influence of their officers, to quiet them, by telling them they will soon be better provided for. But we see no likelihood of that, as repeated applications have been lately made to the Commissary at Albany, and the Deputy-Commissary, (Mr˙ Phelps,) now at Fort Constitution, and all to no purpose. We are therefore under the necessity of applying to you, and beg that you will immediately give such orders to the contractors and Deputy-Commissary, that this post may be supplied with every species allowed to make the fall rations to each soldier; and if it cannot sooner be done in that way, your order to us to supply the troops here will be sufficient, as every necessary wanting is to be had in great plenty.

"We beg you will not pass over this application unnoticed; for in case the soldiers are not better provided for, they will not labour; and when that is the case, it cannot be expected that we can carry on the work.

"Captain Andrew Billings we have sent with this, who will be able fully to state the deplorable situation of the troops here, if the Committee will call on him, which we beg they may do; and if he returns without a remedy, it Will then be out of our power to give them any kind of satisfaction. The soldiers know the errand Captain Billing' s goes on; and the expectation of relief on his return, keeps them from mutinying, and, we have reason to think, from quitting the post in a body, at least the greater part of them.

"Sentiments of humanity as well as sound policy constrain us to add, that, in a plentiful country, it is cruel not to provide well for those men that step forth to defend the rights of their country. Our common enemies, the Tones, take the advantage of it, and secretly retard the recruiting companies filling, which, for that and other reasons, goes on


slowly. We are sensible that the above application to your body is not strictly proper; yet as necessity has and must warrant many things which have imposed themselves on you, we make the present application, with full confidence that some immediate relief may be had in the premises.

"We would beg leave to add that rum is an article very much wanting for the fatigue parties. If a supply of that could immediately be sent up, it would have a very good effect. In case a sufficiency cannot be provided, if we have orders, a plenty of cider and beer can he had, which would answer perhaps as well.

"We send, enclosed, a copy of an affidavit, which proves the assiduity of our enemies, and the necessity of a watchful eye on all their motions.

"In consequence of the resolves of the Provincial Congress, of the — instant, to which we beg to refer, we have called chiefly Continental Troops to this post, thinking they are most to be depended upon. These troops, we think, are and ought to be under our sole directions, as to the work that is to be done. As to what little military parade that is at present necessary, we conceive the eldest Captain here abundantly sufficient, the present body being merely a working party.

"We are, gentlemen, with much esteem, your very humble servants,


"To the Chairman of the Committee of Safety, New-York."