Supplying the Continental army was never an easy task. Some states supplied there troops reasonably well, but for the Jersey Brigade to was always a hand to mouth existences. Supply sources for the brigade changed from year to year and it required General Maxwell and other officers in the brigade to go to great lengths to find clothing other supplies. Below is some of the correspondence written by General Maxwell and others as they attempted to obtain money,supplies and other necessities for there men
From Colonel Wm. Maxwell to the Governor, Council
Point Independence, October 18th, 1776.
Gentleman, - Agreeably to your intructions sent by the Hon. John Cleve Symmes and Tunis Dey, I have hmkhed them with the necessary returns. Clothing I did not think worthy of mentioning as they are chiefly worn out. I 'have likewise given them a list of these officers that choose to continue in the service during the war. I am sorry to inform you, that there is not one man willing at present (nor do I think they will, while here) to engage to stay at this place during the winter. I have laid before them every proposal the Contineatal Congress has made them; the great care your hon. house is taking to provide them with warm clothing and the glorious cause we are now engaged in, but all to no purpose. They generally say that they will engage as soon as they go home, and I believe they will. This being the first year of their service, and it has been so severe a one, and now a contract offered, that they know not when it will end, it may be easily conceived they will require a little time to deliberate. I have the pleasure to inform you that I have in general as good a set of officers as there is in any battalion in the continental service, and of course they will make good soldiers : what we have still remaining in health, I believe there is none better. I beg leave in a particular manner to recommend to your notice Colonel Shrieve, he has been very attentive to getting a thorough knowledge of his duty, and he is the oldest Lieutenant Colonel belonging to our State ; and although I must regret his absence from any regiment I should have the honor to cammand, yet I cannot help doing him the justice to recommend him to you as fit for the first preferment in these battalions, or to command the fourth to be raised Major Grey has behaved spiritedly on every occasion He was at the head of the first division of my battalion when it went into Canada, and has gone throngh the several fatigues of this long campaign with credit to himself and all his acquaintance. I can heartily recommend him as worthy of preferment. Captain Shute is on command, but has frequently said he would serve during the war-I think you may make no doubt of his continuing. My assistant and quarter-master I beg leave to appoint myself, (Congress gave me this right before), as those I have had did not suit the battalion or me. When the battalion was first raised, all the officers, excepting the field ones, lost above a month's rank, which has grated them much, and has saved nothing to the public.-The case was thus : the officers got only warrank to recruit with, instead of their commissions, I hope that you will remedy that evil in some measure thistime, by dating our commissions from the time of our entering our names to continue in the service. I am informed the Pennsylvania commissioners, have the commissions for their officers with them. Captain Scott has been under arrest for some time past. The near approach of the enemy will not permit us to have a general court martial; there is too much business for the officers:- Colonel Dey has a copy of his crime. He is the first officer, and the only one, put under arrest, belonging to the battalion-I hope it may be the last ; but they may depend upon coming to it when found to deserve i t I am, Gentlemen,
Your most obedient humble servant,
October 4, 1777.
SIR,-As Col Dayton is going to your excellency:on the business I designed to write upon, and his excellency,General Washington, having wrote to you fully on that head, my designs are nearly anticipated. However, I will offer something, viz : If our state does not keep a watchhl eye over their troops in the clothing way, I am certain they will in a great measure be neglected.From this and all to the southward, every state has imported something, and by their industry had gottheir troops tolerably well clothed in the spring; and,with what the clothier-general assisted them to incommon afterwards, they will make a tolerable appearance. I need say little to you of the northern troops; you must well know their advantages in getting clothing, and they made use of them. We have gone very early into the field, and have had no other dependence but on the clothier-general, and we got them in bits and scraps, as the miser gives his son some part of his patrimony before death. It was dealt out with so scanty a hand, we never knew the good of it; besides we never got our proper quantity, and some of what we did get was rotten. If our state would provide a complete suit at first, then the other supply might be sufficent. We are in great need at present of shoes, stockings, breeches, shirts, good jackets, and some caps for the want of which many valuable men are rendered useless.His excellency says that if you would now fill upthe regiments he would ask no more militia. That pernicious practice of substitutes, either in the standing army or militia, must be put a stop to----------to recruting, and nothing will prevent it while the militia is required. I submit the few observations, to your excellency and both houses, and hope that a termporary supply may be sent as soon as possible; and am Your Excellency's most obedient and humble servant
Memorial of the Officers of the Jersey Brigade to the
Legislature. To the Honorable the Legislative Council and General Assembly of the state of New Jersey.
It is with great reluctance that the officers of the Jersey brigade undertake to address you. They had reason to expect that you would (from principles of justice as well as necessity) before this time have taken such measures as would have rendered it unnecessary, but the circumstances of. your troops have become such that it would now be criminal to be silent. The Legislature need not be informed that our pay is now only nominal, not real, that four months pay of a private will not procure his wretched wife and children a single bushel of wheat. The situation of your officers is worse. The pay of a Colonel of your regiments will'not purchase the oats for his horse, nor will his whole day's pay procure him a single dinner. A common laborer or an express rider receives four times as much as he. It would be superfluous for us to point out all our grievances, they are many, they are great, they are known to you. It is therefore a duty we owe our country, a duty we owe ourselves, to inform you in the most plain and unambiguous terms, that unless a speedy and ample remedy be provided, the total dissolution of your troops is inevitable. The spirit of desertion has already taken place, and has risen to the most alarming height. Combinations of large parties to desert are almost every day discovered, and the utmost vigilance of the officers is not able to prevent it. The soldiers estimate the money truly, by what it will purchase. They have frequently been heard to say "that it was true British pay was very small, but notwithstanding, two days' pay would purchase a quart of rum, and with us a month's pay would not more than do it. In the year 1776 the pay of the officers and soldiers afforded no more than a scanty subsistence. Since that period the currency has depreciated in most articles of life more than two thousand per cent. Are we then to risk our lives in the field of battle, to submit to all the inconveniences of a camp life, to be deprived of the sweets of domestic happiness, and subsist upon one twentieth part of a suffciency Congress, seeing the enormous rise of the necessaries of life, so long ago as December, 1777, recommended to the several states to provide all necessary clothing for their officers and soldiers at prices proportioned to their pay. We had examples of the states both of the southward and eastward complying with this resolution, and in many instances exceeding it. That your troops are less brave, or have done less duty than any troops in the union, is a position that none have been hardy enough to advance, and why they should be so long neglected is a problem in politics hard to be explained. Pennsylvania has lately passed some resolves in favor of her troops. Maryland has adopted the same;---some other states have done more, but none of them have done enough. The families of officers and soldiers should some way be provided for. If our pay was in Spanish milled dollars (and that was the contract between Congress and us) we could provide for them; we therefore neither ask nor wish for more than a compliance with the original contract. Pay us in Spanish milled dollars or give us an equivalent, and our complaints shall instantly cease.
Elizabethtown, April 17th, 1779.
From Brigadier General Maxwell to General Washington
Elizabethtown, May 6th, 1779.
SIR,-I am just informed by Col. Ogden that the officers of the first regiment have delivered him a remonstrance to our Legislature with their commissions, informing them that if they have not some immediate redress with respect to their pay and support they will look on themselves as out of the service at the expiration of three days. They will however put the regiment in the most proper order for marching, or take care of it till the state has reasonable time to supply other officers. This is a step they are extremely unwilling to take, but it is such as I make no doubt they will d take. Nothing but the necessity of their not being able to support themselves in time to come, and being loaded with debts the time past, could have induced them to resign at so critical a time, when their country so much wants their services. They begged the Colonel to make it known to those concerned that they had not taken this step through any design of cabal or disaffection, as they had not desired or wished an officer of any other regiment to join them, that they would have come to this resolution long before now, but from their unwillingness to leave the service they so much respected, and that their former applications, with those lately made to their Legislature, they thought would have drawn their attention to their distresses. They say the clothier for this state has informed them that the assembly has given him orders to pnrchase to the value of &150 worth of clothing for each officer, which they say will not do much more than get them a coat. Col Ogden is going off to the Assembly to lay the affair before them, and expects to be back in three days.I have in haste endeavored to convey the substance of what Col Ogden informed me to your Excellency, and am, &ct,
From the Captains and Subalterns of the 1st Regiment
of New Jersey to General Washington.
Elizabethtown, May 8, 1779.
SIR,-General Maxwell has communicated to us the substance of a letter from your Excellency of yesterday. It has made us very unhappy that any act of ours should give your Excellency pain. But we trust when you are made acquainted with the circumstances that induced us to take these measures, that so far from ten- suring us you will approve our conduct. The reason that we have not theretofor made your Excellency acquainted with our peculiar hard circumstances were, that it would be giving you uneasiness without answering any valuable end ; for we are truly sensible of the incessant pains your Excellency has taken for the benefit of your army. You are pleased to say that you cannot but consider the late.step of the officers hasty and imprudent. That it was not hasty we will readily prove, and whether imprudent, future events, in some measure,must determine, though dire necessity with us admitted no alternative. It will be proper to inform your Excellency that the officers of the Jersey Brigade have repeatedly and at almost every session of the Assembly, since January, 1778, memorialized them upon the necessities of the troops,-and the reasonableness of their making them some compensation for their services, that the members of the legislature, individually, always assured the gentlemen who waited on them with the memorials, that something very generous should be done for the troops, but we have the misfortune to inform your Excellency that not a single resolve was ever entered on their Minutes in our favor until within two weeks. So long ago as last winter we informed the council of . our determination to leave the service unless we were properly provided for ; and from them we again received assurances that provision should be made for us. At the beginning of the present session a resolution was sent into them signed by every officer of the brigade, a copy of which we have enclosed, and so far were they from complying with the reasonable requisitions contained in it, that they have referred it to Congress. Thus are we circumstanced; we have lost all confidence in our legislature. Reason and experience forbid that we should have any. Few of us have private fortunes : many have families who already are suffering; everything that can be received from an ungrateful country. Are we then to submit to all the inconveniences, fatigue, and dangers of a camp life, while our wives and'childien are perishing for want of common necessaries at home ; and that without the most distant, porspect of reward for our pay is noW only nominal. We. are sensib& that pout 'Excellencey cannot wish or desire it from us. We are sorry you should imagine that we meant to disobey orders; it was and still is our dietermination to march with or regiment, and do the duty of officers until the legislature shall have' a reasonable time to appoint others; but no longer.
We beg leave to assure your Excenency that we have the highest sense of your abilties and virtues; that executing your orders has ever given us pleasure; that we love the service and we love our country; but when that. country is so lost to virtue and justice as to forget to suppart its sevants, it then becomes their duty to retire from the service.
We are, &., by order,
JONATHAN FORMAN, 1st Capt.
From General Washingston to Brigader General Maxwell.
Head Quarters, Middle Brook, May 10th, 1779.
. SIR,-The short stay you made at head quarters and my attention being otherwise engrossed, prevented my entering upon the subject of the letter from the officers of the 1st Jersey regiment, transmitted in yours of the 8th inst. I am sorry to find the gentlemen persist in the principles which dictated the step they have taken,as the more the affair unfolds itself the more reason I me to disapprove But in the present view they have of the matter, and with their present feelings it is not, probable any new arguments that could be offered would have more influence than the former. While therefore the gentlemen continue in the execution of their duty, as they declare themselves heartily disposed to do, I shall only regret that they have taken a step of which they must hereafter see the impropriety. There is one thing to which I cannot forbear calling your particular attention. I observed in the memorial of which the officers transmitted me a copy, that the gentlemen dwell among other things upon the insufficiency of the soldiers' pay. This is a doctrine full of dangerous consequences, and which ought not to be countenanced in any way whatever, neither is it well founded. The pay given in other armies is little more than nominal ; very low in the first instance, and subject to a variety of deductions which reduce it to nothing. This is the case with the British troops, though I believe they receive more than those of any of the European armies. The idea of maintaining the soldiers' families at home at the public expense is peculiar to us; and is incompatible with the finances of any goverment Our troops have been uniformly better fed than any others; they am at this time very well clad, and I hope will continue to be so. It is important that any misconception on this point should be rectified. I suppose every officer incapable of encouraging improper expectations in his men; but I must also hope that every exertion will be made to suppress them.
I am, &c.,
Selections from the Correspondence of the
Executive of the State of
Published by the Order of the Legislature
Printed at the Newark Daily Advertiser office