Our Collection

At the Institute’s core is the Gilder Lehrman Collection, one of the great archives in American history. More than 70,000 items cover five hundred years of American history, from Columbus’s 1493 letter describing the New World to soldiers’ letters from World War II and Vietnam. Explore primary sources, visit exhibitions in person or online, or bring your class on a field trip.

Washington, George (1732-1799) to George Clinton

High-resolution images are available to schools and libraries via subscription to American History, 1493-1943. Check to see if your school or library already has a subscription. Or click here for more information. You may also order a pdf of the image from us here.

Log in
to see this thumbnail image

Gilder Lehrman Collection #: GLC00639.30 Author/Creator: Washington, George (1732-1799) Place Written: Valley Forge, Pennsylvania Type: Letter signed Date: 12 March 1778 Pagination: 2 p. ; 34 x 21 cm.

A high-resolution version of this object is available for registered users. LOG IN

Gilder Lehrman Collection #: GLC00639.30 Author/Creator: Washington, George (1732-1799) Place Written: Valley Forge, Pennsylvania Type: Letter signed Date: 12 March 1778 Pagination: 2 p. ; 34 x 21 cm.

With Clinton's docket and note in another hand on p. 2. Washington says that the "army has been pretty well supplied" since previously asking for supplies. The letter also answers complaints about Israel Putnam's command on the Hudson River. Washington says the charges, which he has had from other persons, embarassed him because they arose from "want of judgement [rather] then any real intention to do wrong."

Signer of the U.S. Constitution.

Head Quarters Valley Forge
12th. March 1778
Dear Sir,
I am honored with yours of the 5th. instant, and cannot Sufficiently express my thanks for your attention to my letter of the 16th: Feby. I have the pleasure to inform you, that by the exertions of our friends in different quarters the Army has been pretty well Supplied Since, and I hope will continue to be so, if proper Steps are taken by the present Commissaries, or if there should be a change for the better in that capital department. There is however one thing that I fear it is too late to remedy and that is the neglect of curing Salt Provisions in Season, to the want of a proper quantity of which in hot weather, I attribute the prevalency of Fluxes and other disorders in our army- There are complaints from every quarter of the remissness of Payment in the Commissary and Quarter Master departments, whether this is owing to the misapplication of Public Money or whether the departments have not been properly Supported by the Treasury I will not undertake to determine as none of their accounts either go thro' my hands or are Subject to my inspection. A change is taking place in the Qr. Masters and I hope if the Gentleman who is in nomination accepts that there will be a considerable reform.
The letter which you desired Doctr Cochran to enquire about came safely to my hands. The hints which you were pleased to give of mismanagement in the North [Hudson] River [2] Command came also from Several other hands, and did not a little embarrass me, as they contain charges rather resulting from want of judgment than any real intention to do wrong. It is much to be lamented that we should have Officers of so high rank as to entitle them to claim seperate [sic] Commands with so moderate a share of abilities to direct them in the execution of those commands. You may however rest assured that proper Steps are taking to introduce, if the general course of service will admit, a Gentleman who I hope will better answer the Public end and be fully agreeable to the State of New York in particular. I hope you will in the mean time continue to afford General Parsons every assistance by your advice in the execution of the necessary Works and by rendering him what aids he may call for from your Government.

I have the honor to be
with the highest esteem and
Personal Regard. -
Dr Sir
Your most H. Obed. Servt.
Go: Washington

Govr. Clinton

[docket:]
Genl. Washington's Letter 12: March 1778
[struck: In] respecting the Army &c.-
[written in margins in different hand, possibly by historian Jared Sparks:]
Gates, who had passed the winter in the direction of the War Office, was in April called to H.Q. Valley Forge & sent thence, to take command of the Dist[rict] Previously commanded by Putnam & the officer of high rank whose faults or blunders arose from want of judgment as stated by Gen. W. in this letter.

Order a CopyCitation Guidelines for Online Resources