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Henry B. Livingston to New-York Congress



Claremont, August 10, 1775.

SIR: I wrote to you yesterday, in a great hurry, before I had notice of the arrival of the clothes for the Troops at this place, which, to my great surprise, I find to be only a regimental coat and a blanket for each man; no hat, shirt,


waistcoat, breeches, stockings, or shoes. All these things we have been led to expect from the tenour of our instructions for enlisting men, wherein we are directed to observe, "That the Troops raised by this Colony will be placed precisely upon the same footing, with respect to pay, clothing, &c˙, with other the Continental Troops now raised, or hereafter to be raised for the general defence." We did not know, with certainty, how the Continental Forces were to be supplied, but conjectured that they were to be furnished with every necessary, till some of our late papers came to hand, in which we observed the Captains for New-York had placed an advertisement, setting forth that volunteers in this service would be allowed one shilling, eleven pence per day, and a suit of clothes, arms, &c˙, to be found them; this was not contradicted by the Congress. Can the gentlemen who compose it conceive no necessity for a supply of shoes to a body of men who are to march two hundred and fifty miles through a rough country, (how much farther I know not,) or can they think that a regimental coat will make them uniform, when some of them have waistcoats, others none; some trowsers, others none; some hats, others without; some ragged, others whole. Want of decent clothing, I fear, will oblige many to desert the service who have engaged in it from principle, and with the sole view of extricating this country from its present difficulties. However, if it be the sense of the Congress that the Troops are to be furnished with these necessaries from their pay, and they think proper to advance it for that purpose, I will endeavour to bring the men in my company to agree to it, though I can' t help thinking it will be a difficult task, as they are much displeased at the parsimony of the Congress; it has been very near creating a mutiny in my company already. This I have thought it my duty, as an officer, to mention to you, that if the Congress think it merits attention, they may have it in their power to apply a remedy in time.

Having thus fully laid before you the reasons for dissatisfaction among the men, I will now mention to you a circumstance that has given no little uneasiness to the officers of our Battalion. I have been offered the appointment of a Major to the Regiment to which I belong, and also of one other to the Third Battalion. I am much at a loss to account for the indignity that has been offered me in both these appointments, and fear that the Congress have imbibed some undeserved prejudices against me. By the Crown I was thought qualified, two years ago, for a majority, since which I have made it an object of some attention to fit myself for that station though I must confess that I by no means think myself equal to the task, and therefore should readily have acquiesced in the nomination of gentlemen more experienced than myself. But when persons that have had the advantage of no experience are advanced from a lieutenancy over the head of a Major, it carries either the highest compliment to their abilities, or the greatest reflection on his. To the first I am so far from objecting, that I rejoice at the early dawning of that superiour genius, in which the Congress see the want of experience so amply compensated, and the idea of the last excites a sensation which I do not care to express. I will only observe, that as a sense of duty, and a regard to the interests of this country, were the only motives that induced me to enter into the service, so the same principles will continue me in it till the Congress can with conveniency supply my place, when I shall rejoice in my dismissal. In the meanwhile, as I know myself superiour to little piques, I shall take care that they do not discover themselves in my conduct.

I remain, with all imaginable respect, your most obedient humble servant,


N˙B˙ Lieutenant Paddock, my Second Lieutenant, has had my orders to be with me a fortnight ago. If he should not come, I should be glad to have John Banks, who is now with me as a common soldier, in his room. He is a man well qualified for a captaincy, and has seen a great deal of service last war.