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Letter from Colonel Nicoll to New-York Congress



Fort Constitution, March 15,1776.

GENTLEMEN: This garrison is greatly in want of many articles at present, especially sauce, beef, soap, candles, drink, and fuel; neither have we had any fresh provision for two months past; the want of which necessaries discourage the men very much, as they work daily. We are also in want of pots, trammels, bowls, and dishes, for the Barracks, as there are none here but what the Commissioners claim, and say they must have to carry to Pooploop' s Kill. There must be a sufficient quantity of those necessaries provided and sent here shortly, or the garrison will be in a bad situation when the Commissioners call for theirs. I should not have troubled you with these matters, but have wrote to Mr˙ Livingston, according to your former directions, on this head, and received for answer that Mr˙ Phelps (appointed to provide for the fortress) would be here in a short time, and make the necessary provision; but he has not attended yet, neither do I know when he will.

Enclosed you have an account delivered to me by the Commissioners for powder, ball, and cartridge paper, by them delivered to Captain Raymond previous to my taking the command here; none of which he returned. You can deal with him for them as you think proper. Several of the Minute-men now in garrison are destitute of guns; neither are they able to procure them by reason of their scarcity. There are a number of good arms in the store, but the Commissioners are not willing to let them go without orders, as they were directed to keep them safe in their custody. I think it would be proper to let the men have arms and accoutrements, in order that they may be disciplined to the use of them, provided the commanding officer of any such deficient company will give his receipt for them, and engage to return them, when he is discharged from this garrison, as good as he received them.

It is absolutely necessary that a baker be fixed here upon some certain principle, made by the Commissary. While Captain Raymond commanded, he gave the Hour to a baker, who returned an equal weight of bread; and allowed him soldier' s pay, with all attendance that he required; which I think is too much, amounting, I suppose, to ten or twelve pounds per month. I have partly agreed with the same man (who is a good baker, and now out of town) for four pounds per month; but he requires to have his wood and people to attend upon him, and I do not know what to do about closing the bargain. I would be glad of some instructions in the premises, or that a baker may be otherwise appointed.

As there is no Commissary attending here, and as I think it absolutely necessary that one should attend, if none of those already appointed can be ordered here, I would recommend Captain Thomas Moffit to that office as a proper person. I expect to be able to make a return of the state of my regiment, having issued the necessary orders for that purpose.

I am; gentlemen, your most obedient and very humble servant,


To Colonel Nathaniel Woodhull, President of the Provincial Congress.