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Letter from Henry Wisner to New-York Committee of Safety



Goshen, March 28, 1776.

DEAR SIR: Some days ago my son received a letter from you, desiring him to inform you of what quantity of powder we had then made, what quantity we could make per week, and what quantity of materials we had by us; but as we had at that time but just begun, we could only have given a partial answer, and therefore omitted giving an answer until we had made further trial. And to which I now have to inform you that we had made, before the 12th of this instant, only two hundred weight. The first week after that time we made eight hundred weight; the second week we made eleven hundred weight; and I believe this week we shall make twelve hundred weight; so that, I believe, by Saturday night we shall have some better than three thousand weight. We have tried the quality of it by shooting with a gun. Several of our gunners have tried it, and all say it is of the best quality.

As to materials, we have saltpetre enough to work about two weeks only. We have had a promise of ten tons to be sent from Philadelphia, which was sent as far as Bordentown several months ago, and was to have been sent forward to our works. I wrote twice to the Congress about it, though the last letter they cannot have received. I hope they will soon send it.

As to sulphur, I cannot say what quantity we have. It is part of it at New-Windsor. I wish more might be had. I believe we have not got much.

I have made application to the Committee of our County for liberty to build a mill in our County, on the encouragement given by your honourable Board. I believe I shall succeed. If so, I make no doubt but will build one to make a ton a week, and more if necessary. Shall be glad of your assistance in procuring materials.

I wish you would direct what we shall do with the powder, as fast as it is fit for being sent off. As powder is an article that will take a considerable time to dry, especially at this time of the year, so that we shall have in the drying house at least two thousand weight all the time — in that case, query: Whether there will not be danger of some Tory setting fire to it in the night, by firing the house? If so, query: Whether it would not be right to keep a guard? And if so, as the powder all belongs to the publick, query: Whether the expense ought not to be home by the publick? I should be glad of an answer by the first opportunity.

I am, with the greatest regard and esteem, your assured friend and humble servant,


To the President of the Provincial Congress, or Chairman of the Committee of Safety, at New-York.

P˙ S˙ If you should think proper to order a guard, I believe four men would be sufficient for that purpose. I hope you will excuse this scrawl. I should have copied it, but have only three half sheets more of paper, and do not know where to get the next.