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1776 Washington Intelligence Congress

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Hello,

My newest addition. A letter by New York General Philip Schuler. The letter is to Colonel Richard Varick who would later serve as an aide to Benedict Arnold and as a secretary to George Washington.

Captain [Richard] Varick, Saratoga [NY], 16 October 1776.

The Letter from Congress only enclos?d the Resolution you have seen; and those from General Washington contained no Intelligence but what you have had, except that we are not to expect any Nails either from Philadelphia or New York. You will therefore call upon Mr. Trumbull for Five Thousand Dollars, and request Capt. Torrey to take Charge of the Money, and repair to Boston to purchase all he can get, and immediately to forward them to you in Carriages. Inclosed is a Letter for the Selectmen.

Desire Mr. Renselaer to send up all the nails he possibly can, twenty four penny will be most wanted.

(Signed)

Ph. Schuyler

Desire the Committee to continue collecting all the Boards they possibly can, and to get the Timber to the River Side, that both may be pushed down, as soon as the Obstacles that now prevents its being sent are removed. Mr. Renselaer must send the nails tomorrow, and the Iron I mentioned to him.? The last sentence here was added to the letter in Schuyler?s own hand.

thanks,

barry

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Wiki Photo of General Schuyler.

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I imagine $5,000 could buy a helluva lot of nails in 1776. Do you have any idea what they were for?

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At the date of this letter, a British squadron under Sir Guy Carleton was advancing on Lake Champlain toward the American forces at Fort Ticonderoga. From October 11 to 13, a small American fleet led by Benedict Arnold had valiantly challenged the British in the battle of Valcour Island, but it had ultimately been defeated. With the British bearing down on Ticonderoga, General Schuyler here seeks needed supplies.

The letters from George Washington that Schuyler mentions are probably two that were written on October 10 and 11. In these, Washington replied to Schuyler?s requests for boards and nails, and reported on a visit to his headquarters by two Caughnuaga chiefs.

Fortunately, soon after this, Schuyler would have some breathing room to strengthen his forces and his position. Although Arnold?s naval operation had failed in the short run, it had so delayed and dismayed Sir Guy Carleton that soon after, on November 4, he abandoned his expedition and retreated back to St. Johns and Montreal for the winter.

thanks,

barry

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That's great. It's amazing it didn't get lost or damaged over the last couple of hundred years.

It reminded me of the rhyme - for want of a nail the shoe was lost.

Tony

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I wonder if they also needed Hammers. Boards & Nails :banger:

What a way to fight a war. :cheers:

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I've gone back to collecting American Revolution due to the high Euro.

Captain Claiborne Butler was Aid-de-Camp to General Benjamin Lincoln.

Albany, Oct. 31, 1777

General Lincoln desires me to inform you that he paid when he was at Bennington, to Colo. Abel Marsh three hundred forty four pounds, sixteen shillings and four pence for eleven Yoke Oxen delivered Genl. Bailey for the military under his command. As the Genl. desirous to Settle with the paymaster he would be glad you could contrive to settle with him as soon as possible.

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wikiphoto of General Benjamin Lincoln

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American General William Alexander

(1726-1783)

The general would not live to see the conclusion of the war.

Fishkill (NY), September 3 1782

I now send off 3 servants with 10 horses and 2 wagons to Albany, asks that the horses go to the public stables and the men have quarters. If they get to Albany before Stirling he requests Quackenbush see that they get plenty of good forage and asks that he look for a place for my Aids De Camp to Quarter at as near to Mr. Duer as possible.

(Signed)

STIRLING

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Five thousand DOLLARS seems an extraordinary sum indeed but for the fact that the amount was IN dollars. There was a contemporary expression "Not worth a Continental" for that PAPER money, which would have been severely discounted against hard currency.

Not sure what the amount would have come out to in "real" money at the time. Up here in the (after 1776) heart of unchallenged rebel power, accounts continued to be kept in ? until after the war, when state currencies (also worthless paper) came into use. One of the sparks that triggered Shay's Rebellion in 1787 was Boston's paying its debts in paper but demanding payments in hard pre-war British coin-- rather like Kaliforniya now with its equally one way IOUs.

Plus ?a change.... :catjava:

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Hello Rick,

Good Point!

I found this while surfing 'continental dollar inflation value'.

I found this website & here is a bit of the page.

http://mises.org/story/1273

There is still debate among historians about when the paper currency began depreciating. Sumner concluded from his research that it was almost immediate. He cited a resolution of the Massachusetts Provincial Congress (28 June 1775) declaring that anyone who refused these notes or demanded a premium for them was an "enemy of the country." Discovering the extent of the early depreciation is difficult because for the first two years of the war it was considered a crime against patriotism to even admit that the Continental was sinking in value.

Nevertheless, the depreciation became marked and significant in the latter half of 1776. By December, the Continental dollar had sunk to 66% of a specie dollar. To combat the depreciation, the states made the paper currencies legal tender for all debts and purchases, enacted price controls, and printed more money. The states made it a crime to refuse paper money, demand a premium in paper, or charge lower prices for specie. Punishments included public humiliation, fines, imprisonment, and the forfeiture or confiscation of the goods or property concerned.

Local committees of public safety were the usual enforcement agency. In addition, delegates from the New England states met at the end of 1776 to set price ceilings for a wide range of goods and to enact wage controls as the high prices being paid for labor were said to be inhibiting military recruitment. Delegates from the middle states met in March 1777 to enact price and wage controls for their region. Although the price conventions never succeeded in holding down prices, they continued to meet every year through 1780. The states also passed laws forbidding "forestalling" and "engrossing," which were terms describing the practice of holding large stocks of foodstuffs or goods but refusing to sell them at the set price in paper money.

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Yup, embarassing indeed.

I know that one way this was... :unsure: circumvented ... was to meet demands for contributions by making levied "payments" to the national government in kind. In my own home town, by 1778 national "war taxes" were being "paid" in military uniforms spun out of what would be called, 85 years later and quite a few states south, Confederate "butternut brown." I've often wondered which unfortunate far off troops ended up with these rather than the dark blue of patriotic (but distorted) memory. Actual financial accounts-- I've seen them-- were kept in the "old style" pounds/shillings/pence.

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Are you call'in use southern confederate butternutsssssssss.

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The closer to the frontier areas, the less people relied on currency which was not always easy to acquire, some items literally became a form of "hard" currencies, such as "hard apple cider" (the apples grown at home), "hard whiskey" made from distilled corn mash (the corn grown at home), and other items that could be measured or were in constant demand. Hand made nails and spikes were often necessary or irreplaceable when wooden pegs wouldn't do, and were an item that could also be bartered, traded for, or used in payment for something else. Schulyer may have wanted nails that he could use in lieu of accepting script for his needs.

On the western fringes of Pennsylvania, home of the Whiskey Rebellion in 1794, hard cider and whiskey were frequently used for payments of all kinds. On some property sales agreements and recorded deeds, all sorts of items (including whiskey) were used in addition to, or in lieu of cash payments.

Les

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