CONCORD, N.H. (AP) – Desperate for supplies, Gen. George Washington wrote the state of New Hampshire in 1777 asking for shoes, stockings and blankets.

The letter is in collections at the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History in New York. Writing from Valley Forge on Dec. 29 during one of the Revolutionary War’s dark times, Washington describes the plight of 3,000 men as being unfit for duty because they were “barefoot and otherwise naked.”

The nation’s first president also asked for soldiers, but focused his efforts mostly on getting provisions.

Washington’s rabble Army hunkered down and drilled regularly to keep up morale and to stave off the cold.

“No pains, no efforts on the part of the States can be too great for this purpose,” Washington wrote. “It is not easy to give you a just and accurate idea of the sufferings of the Army at large or the loss of men on this account. Were they to be minutely detailed, your feelings would be wounded, and the relation would probably be not received without a degree of doubt and discredit.”

A version of the letter was sent to all the states.

“In a word, the United and respective exertions of the States cannot be too great, too vigorous in this interesting work, and we shall never have a fair and just prospect for success till our Troops (Officers & Men) are better appointed and provided than they are or have been,” he wrote.

“We have taken post here for the winter, as a place best calculated to cover the country from the ravages of the enemy and are now busily employed in erecting huts for the troops. This circumstance renders it the more material that the supplies should be greater and more immediate than if the men were in comfortable quarters.”

Washington was constantly writing to warn his military leaders of threats and to request overdue supplies.

In a letter to Brig. Gen. John Stark of New Hampshire on May 6, 1781, Washington emphasized the need for more New Hampshire men and material.

“It is a long, very long interval of time, since we have received any kind of Supplies from New Hampshire,” Washington wrote in the letter, now online at the University of Virginia Library. “I have written, some days ago, pressingly to the President on the Subject, entreating him, as he regarded the welfare and even existence of the Army, that he would use his utmost exertion to have an immediate supply of Beef Cattle forwarded on. If this is not done (and the supply regularly kept up every month) the very worst consequences may be apprehended.”



Information from: New Hampshire Union Leader, http://www.unionleader.com

AP-ES-02-18-08 1244EST


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