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Letter from Lord Stirling to the President of Congress



[Dec˙ 8th, referred to Mr˙ Jay, Mr˙ Wilson, Mr˙ W˙ Livingston.]

Head-Quarters, Elizabethtown, New-Jersey,

December 3, 1775.

SIR: On my leaving Philadelphia, the 22d November, I proceeded to Burlington, in order to meet the Committee of Safety of New-Jersey, and to prevail on them to take proper measures for securing arms for the two New-Jersey regiments, and to get the barracks in this Province prepared for the reception of those regiments. Some measures were that evening agreed to, which I hope will forward the service, but I fear will not be quite effectual. I proceeded the next morning to Trenton, and there despatched particular orders to each of the Captains to assemble their companies, (on the days agreed upon with the Paymaster,) for reviewing and paying them off to the first of this month, in order to enable them to leave their counties and go into barracks. On Friday, I went on to Brunswick, in order to get barracks there put in order. On Saturday, I went to my own house at Baskinridge. On Monday, Mr˙ Lowrie, the paymaster, joined me according to appointment. On Tuesday, at Morristown, we reviewed and paid off the two companies commanded by Captains Morris and Howell. After dismissing two of three men from each company, I think they are the best body of new men I ever saw. On Wednesday, we proceeded to Elizabethtown, in hopes of meeting, according to appointment, the two companies commanded by Captains Myers and Necker, but they being neither complete nor mustered, I was obliged to adjourn their review till the next week. The latter I found very deficient, and poorly officered. I, therefore, posted Ensign Dallas, of Captain Morris' s company, to act as second lieutenant to Captain Necker' s, on a promise of his recruiting twenty men for it in a week' s time, which I have no doubt he will perform. On Thursday, we proceeded to Brunswick, and were that and the next day employed in reviewing and clearing off the two companies commanded by Captains Conway and Polhemus. Captain Piatt brought his company to Rariton Landing, but as he was not mustered, nor had a sufficient number of men present, his muster was adjourned to Monday, and then to march to Elizabethtown. These three companies, after a little purging, are very good recruits.

On Saturday, I returned to this place. Mr˙ Lowrie proceeded to the westward, and purposes next week to clear off Colonel Maxwell' s regiment. Captain Longstreet, of Monmouth County, reported to me at Brunswick that his company is near complete, but scattered at so great distance that it will be impossible to assemble them in less than ten days. I have appointed Friday, the 15th inst˙, to review and muster them at Amboy, and then to put them in barracks. These Captains all complain very heavily of the usage they meet with from the justices, who issue warrants against the men on the smallest pretence. They have been obliged to pay off a number of trifling and vexatious


demands; but if this is suffered to go on, and the men put under stoppage for the repayment of it, they must perish in service for want of necessary clothing. I have, therefore, ordered the Captains to make no engagements which can interfere with the necessities of the men. A number of them are now in the different jails for small debts, which is the reason why some of the companies appear so small in the enclosed returns. By a law of this Province, made during the last war, no man inlisted in Provincial service, could be taken from that service for a debt less than 15 (Proc˙) to any one person, or 60 in the whole of his debts. If a similar rule be not now adopted, I am afraid much confusion will ensue. What was found necessary then, is now absolutely so for the existence of a Continental army. I have met with a good deal of difficulty about barracks. Assembly, Committee of Safety, County Committee, and Barrackmaster, refer me from one to the other whenever I apply for the possession or repair of any of them; at this place, indeed, the committee have ordered them to be cleared out and repaired. I believe to-morrow we shall have two or three companies in them. At Brunswick, they are occupied by people who thought it not safe to remain in New-York. At Amboy, the barrackmaster is under the absolute direction of the Governour, and no acting Committee there; this barrackmaster is in possession of five hundred good new blankets, desirable objects to us at present.

I did not receive your letter of the 27th, till my arrival at this place, on Wednesday last, and finding from Mr˙ P˙ V˙ B˙ Livingston, that there was neither Convention nor Committee of Safety in being at New-York, I wrote to Mr˙ McKesson, Secretary to their late Convention, to know whom it was proper to correspond with on publick matters. His answer and my letter to Colonel Maxwell , you have copies of herewith.

Of the six companies ordered to the fortress on Hudson river, one of those of my regiment will move this week, the other two next week. I hope the three companies of Colonel Maxwells regiment will move near the same time. In our scattered situation, without great towns, it is difficult to fit out men as they ought to be suddenly. Their stockings are yet at Philadelphia.

I must beg the favour of you to fill up the Quartermaster' s commission with the name of Abner Hetfield. A surgeon is absolutely necessary, and if Congress allows one to my regiment, I should be glad that William Barnet, Jun˙, be appointed to it. Both these gentlemen are well known to Mr˙ William Livingston, and Mr˙ Crane. I think they are both well qualified for the respective offices.

We are much in want, of an authentick edition of the Continental Articles of War; if they were published, each regiment should be possessed of at least two dozen of them. I should be glad if you would order them to be delivered to Mr˙ Lowrie, who will forward them.

No provision is yet made, that I know of, for ammunition. I shall be glad to be instructed with regard to it, as well as camp equipage, &c. I have do doubt the Congress will put us on the same footing with the other corps in the Continental service. But it is necessary I should know how to regulate these matters.

It was not possible for me to write to you before. I have seized the first leizure hour to make up for it.

I am, sir, with the highest regard, your most obedient and most humble servant, STIRLING.