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Benjamin Stevens letter book, 1781-1808

1 volume

The letter book contains copies of correspondence Benjamin Stevens wrote as Commissary General at Hartford, Connecticut, during the Revolutionary War. The letters document his attempts to secure supplies for the Continental Army.

The letter book contains copies of letters Benjamin Stevens wrote while executing his duties as Commissary General at Hartford, Connecticut, from 1781 to 1784. Several of the letters are addressed to the governor of Connecticut, Jonathan Trumbull. The letters contain frequent requests for items such as salt, meat, flour, and rum. Stevens had to deal with the problems of short supplies, and damaged goods. Following the letters are two stanzas of a poem about a "young Irish Girl" (page 17), and nine pages of work accounts for Stevens and William Kingsbury for the "making of Bricks and Lime" from 1806 to 1808.


George Wray papers, 1770-1848

16 volumes (4 linear feet)

The George Wray papers contain orders, receipts, correspondence, documents, muster rolls, returns, and several bound volumes relating to Wray's work as commissary of the Royal Regiment of Artillery, primarily during the Revolutionary War.

The George Wray papers contain 11 volumes of correspondence and documents, 3 journals of stores, a volume of muster rolls, an orderly book, a volume of land titles, a trigonometry notebook, two maps, and a blank book. The materials span 1765 to 1848, with the bulk concentrated around 1770-1782.

The Correspondence and Documents series contains 11 volumes of military documents and business correspondence related to Wray's positions with the British Army, first as the Royal Regiment of Artillery's clerk of stores, and later its commissary of stores. The series spans 1765 to 1794 (bulk 1770 to 1783) and contains approximately three linear feet of material. The letters and documents provide ample information about the Royal Artillery during the Revolutionary War, as well as the stores disbursed by the commissary. The materials consist of about 500 orders to issue ordnance signed by Major Peter Traille, who was commander of the Royal Regiment of Artillery in North America; an approximately equal number of receipts for the supplies issued and goods delivered into the regimental storehouse; dozens of letters concerning supplies written between Wray, merchants, and Army officers; approximately 50 muster rolls of companies within the Royal Artillery; and returns of artificers, laborers, and African Americans employed by the regiment, as well as many returns documenting the issuance of weapons, tools, and other items.

The first two volumes in the collection concern Wray's activities as clerk of stores for the Royal Artillery, a position which he held until December 1775; more generally, they pertain to the business of the regiment. Included are muster rolls for various companies of the Royal Regiment of Artillery commanded by David Standish, John Williamson, Anthony Farrington, William Martin, William Johnston, Thomas Davies, and George Anderson. These provide the names of each company's members, as well as their designations as commissioned and non-commissioned officers, bombardiers, gunners, and matrosses. Also present are numerous receipts for items purchased from merchants by the regiment, including cloth (which was often purchased from women--see March 3, 1775 for an example), wood, stones, wheels, shingles, and other items. Many documents also record the ordnance bought for the regiment, such as gunpowder, great guns, small arms, musket balls, and chests for storage (filed under March 31, 1775).

After Wray's promotion to commissary of stores in December of 1775, the documents become more diverse and include a wide variety of returns and other document types. They take account of such matters as the ordnance and stores destroyed and left at Boston (March 12, 1776); the movement of supplies from Boston to Newport, Rhode Island, in 1777; and deliveries made by ordnance transport ships. Major John Grant of the Royal Artillery wrote much of the early correspondence of the period. In one letter, he criticized Wray for drawing on the wrong accounts to cover subsistence pay to a detachment of the regiment (September 13, 1777). In another, he commented on the scarcity of cash in New York and instructed Wray on what to pay for rebel arms brought in by American deserters (February 14, 1779). Wray's incoming correspondence sheds light on the problems and challenges faced by the regiment's commissary, as well as the specifics of the commissary's functioning. Volumes 4 through 9 of the series primarily cover Wray's administration of the commissary while stationed in Charleston, South Carolina, from December 1779 to December 1782. Included are near-daily orders for the issuance of ordnance and stores by Peter Traille, which provide a huge volume of detail on the supplies required by the artillery, as well as records of the items brought into the commissary, including brass ordnance and carriages captured at the Battle of Eutaw Springs (September 18, 1781) and at the Battle of Combahee Ferry (September 10, 1782). Also of interest are numerous inventories of "spare" supplies held by the commissary, a few additional muster rolls for Royal Artillery companies, and other documents relating to the administration of the department.

The Military Journals, Notebooks, and Other Bound Items series contains nine items within five volumes, spanning 1778-1848. Of particular note is a 52-page volume of muster rolls of the civil branch of the artillery in Charleston, which covers 1781 to 1783 (located in Volume 14). In addition to providing names, pay, and remarks on the various white laborers and tradesmen brought in to support the artillery, it also gives basic information on both enslaved and free African Americans, whom it refers to as "Negro servants." The volume classifies them by trade (including carpenters, smiths, "wheelers," sawyers, and general laborers), provides their names and the identities of their masters when applicable, and gives places of residence. Also present is a list of African Americans who acted as servants to particular officers in the Royal Regiment of Artillery.

Another item of interest is an orderly book kept by Wray while in Charleston, South Carolina, 1780-1781 (Volume 13). The book contains orders by Major General Alexander Leslie, Major Peter Traille, and Wray himself, given at the general, regimental, and company level. Wray's orders primarily concern the distribution and transportation of ordnance and supplies, as well as associated logistical issues. Other orders document courts martial, discipline among the enlisted men, personnel matters, and the duties of men in the company. An order of June 9, 1780, offers a reward for information about soldiers who have committed "depredations" against "the unprotected property of the Subjects." An August 23, 1780, order discusses a "parade" of "all the Negroes for Muster." Many later orders in the book specify a training regimen for new recruits.

Other items in the series mainly record stores issued and received by Wray at Charleston. These include an expense book for stores issued at Charleston in 1781 and 1782, a journal of stores received at Charleston in 1780-1782, and two journals of stores issued by Wray in 1778-1779 and1782-1783, with associated receipts and accounts laid into the volume. The latest item in the collection is an 1848 volume of land titles for property in New York, kept by a descendant, John Wray. The volume features surveys of the Wray property, as well as a map entitled, "Survey And Partition of the South Half of Lot No. 93 In the Artillery Patent In the Town of Fort Ann In Washington County And State of New York." A 1784 notebook on trigonometry rounds out this series.

The Map series contains a single map, drawn by Mathew Carey in 1794, and entitled A General Atlas for the Present War: Containing Six Maps And One Chart ... Including Every Place In Europe And the West-Indies, In Which the War Has Been Carried On. This atlas is housed in the Map Division.


James McHenry papers, 1777-1832

3 linear feet

The James McHenry papers contain correspondence and documents related to the political career of James McHenry. The majority of the materials pertain to his tenure as Secretary of War from 1796 to 1800.

The James McHenry papers contain over 800 items related the life and career of James McHenry. Included in the materials are approximately 670 letters and 106 documents, primarily related to McHenry's political career, as well as financial records and miscellaneous documents, including poetry and genealogical materials. The majority of the correspondence and documents are drafts or retained manuscript copies.

The Correspondence and Documents series spans 1777-1832, with the bulk of materials concentrated around 1796 to 1803. The first box of the collection contains documents and correspondence related to McHenry's service in the Revolutionary War, including correspondence with Sir Henry Clinton, George Washington, and Alexander Hamilton. The materials include a draft of a letter to British general Henry Clinton regarding his military failures, written in McHenry's hand but signed "Z" (October 26, 1779), as well as a copy of a letter allegedly written by Clinton to Lord George Germain, which McHenry sent to Samuel Louden of the New York Packet to be published (March 24, 1780). The postwar materials in the collection pertain to McHenry's tenure as a Maryland statesman. Along with documents related to McHenry's political career during those years is a letter dated August 13, 1794, which relates news of the massacre of French colonists at Fort Dauphin in Saint-Domingue (now Haiti), led by Jean-François, an important figure in the Haitian Revolution.

The bulk of the collection, representing 1796 to 1803, documents McHenry's tenure as secretary of war under presidents Washington and Adams. The correspondence and documents relate to military structures, provisions, international relations, treaties, politics, and relations with Native American tribes. The collection contains frequent correspondence with other cabinet members and politicians, including Secretary of State Timothy Pickering and Secretary of the Treasury Oliver Wolcott as well as President George Washington, John Adams, and the Marquis de Lafayette. McHenry served as secretary of war during the Quasi-War with France and, as a staunch Federalist, favored positive relations with Britain over France. A large portion of the correspondence during this period relates to the ongoing feud with that country. A letter from James Winchester to McHenry describes the suspicion with which the Federalists regarded Jeffersonian Democratic-Republicans, who favored closer relations with France: "…tho' they will not openly shew at this time their predilection for France, they will discover it in the first calamitous event which may happen to our Country. Depend on it they are not to be trusted. I speak of the party here" (April 18, 1789). Several months later McHenry wrote in an unaddressed letter draft that he believed the President should recommend a declaration of war with France to Congress. He also expressed his concerns over "a faction within the country constantly on the watch and ready to seize upon every act of the Executive which may be converted into an engine to disaffect the people to the government" (November 25, 1798).

In addition to national and international politics, many of the items relate to U.S. relations with Native American tribes, including the Creek, Chickasaw, and Miami. The materials frequently concern attempts to maintain peace and create treaties with the tribes, as well as to prevent them from giving their loyalty to other countries, such as Britain, France, or Spain. Box 2 contains a copy of a "Talk of the Chickasaw Chiefs at the Bluffs represented by Wolf's Friend, Ugalayacabé" regarding the tribe's concerns about the Americans: "Tell me if I may return to my Nation to appease the tumult of their minds. Shall I tell them the talk of the Americans is falsehood? Shall I assure our warriors our children and our women that your flag will always wave over our land, or tell them to prepare to die?" [1797]. This box also contains a small series of letters from General Anthony Wayne, written from his headquarters in Detroit, where he was stationed before his death, after successfully leading U.S. troops in the Northwest Indian War (August 29 to October 3, 1796). After the war, Miami Chief Little Turtle, became a proponent of friendly relations with the Americans. McHenry wrote to him upon his resignation as secretary of war, thanking him for his friendship: "…I shall carry with me the remembrance of your fidelity, your good sense, your honest regard for your own people, your sensibility and eloquent discourse in their favour, and what is precious to me as an individual, a belief that I shall always retain your friendship" (May 30, 1800). Other documents include an extract of a letter from Major Thomas Cushing to Brigadier General James Wilkinson, writing that he had given gifts to the Native Americans in order to prevent them from siding with the Spanish at New Orleans, who were attempting to win their favor (February 15, 1800).

Boxes 6 through 8 contain correspondence and documents written after McHenry's resignation as secretary of war at the end of May 1800. Though he retired from politics, his letters document that he maintained a keen interest in domestic and international issues. Senator Uriah Tracy wrote regular letters to McHenry in February 1801, keeping him up-to-date on the daily events regarding the presidential election between Thomas Jefferson and Aaron Burr. After the election, McHenry wrote a letter to U.S. Ambassador to the Netherlands William Vans Murray, in which he discussed the election and why public opinion had shifted from the Federalists to Jefferson: "I still am of opinion, that we should have gained nothing by the election of Mr. Burr, could it have been accomplished by federal means. The general sentiment is so strong and ardent for Mr. Jefferson, that experience alone can correct it" (February 23, 1801). This section of correspondence also contains a draft of a letter to the speaker of the House of Representatives containing McHenry's defense against charges brought against him regarding disbursements while secretary of war (December 22, 1802), as well as his opinions of current political happenings, including the Louisiana Purchase in 1803, and the Embargo Act of 1807. Several of the letters written during this period also relate to McHenry's low opinion of John Adams, who forced him out of office. In a series of letters exchanged by McHenry and Oliver Wolcott in 1800, McHenry described his anger regarding Adams, and expressed regret that Adams remained in office after George Washington left. Over ten years later, McHenry wrote a letter to Timothy Pickering, responding to a series of memoirs Adams had printed in the Boston Patriot . He accused Adams of making significant errors and misrepresentations, and mused, "How many recollections have these puerile letters awakened. Still in his own opinion, the greatest man of the age. I see he will carry with him to the grave, his vanity, his weaknesses and follies, specimens of which we have so often witnessed and always endeavored to veil from the public" (February 23, 1811).

The Bound Items series consists of a diary, a published book of letters, a book of U.S. Army regulations, an account book, and a book of poetry. McHenry kept the diary from June 18 to July 24, 1778, beginning it at Valley Forge. It contains accounts of daily events, intelligence, orders, the Battle of Monmouth, and the march of Washington's army to White Plains, New York. The 1931 book, entitled Letters of James McHenry to Governor Thomas Sim Lee is the correspondence written by James McHenry to Maryland governor Thomas Sim Lee during the 1781 Yorktown Campaign. The book of army regulations spans ca. 1797-1798, while the account book covers 1816-1824. The book of poetry is handwritten but undated and unsigned.

In addition to this finding aid, the Clements Library has created a full list of letter-writers in the James McHenry papers: James McHenry Contributor List.


James Moncrieff papers, 1710-1894 (majority within 1780-1804)

403 items (1.5 linear feet)

The James Moncrieff papers are made up of letters, documents, and reports partially documenting the military career of Moncrieff, a British engineer. In particular, the papers regard Moncrieff’s engineering work following the siege of Charlestown, South Carolina (1780 ff.), and in the West Indies in the early 1790s.

The James Moncrieff papers consist of 403 items, dated from August 2, 1710, to June 15, 1894 (the bulk dating between August 28, 1780, and April 4, 1804). The collection contains seven bound letter and account books, 38 pieces of correspondence, 244 documents pertaining to Works and Services for the Engineers Dept. of the British military, six military reports, 43 miscellaneous military documents, 10 documents pertaining to land holdings, 41 personal and financial documents, and 14 miscellaneous items.

The letterbooks and 38 individual letters pertain to the military career of James Moncrieff and regard military orders, personal purchases of Moncrieff, military purchases, military fortifications and other matters pertaining to the Engineer Corps. The 244 documents are numbered payment orders for Works Services in the Engineers Department of the British military. They include detailed lists of services and materials purchased for the operation of the Department. Each document is authorized and signed by the Commanding Engineer, James Moncrieff, by the sellers after payment, by the Paymaster, and by witnesses to the financial transactions. The 6 Military Reports (1791), initialed by G.B., G.D., B.P. and J.M., contain material regarding military engineering in the West Indies. Four of the reports contain James Moncrieff’s reports on military fortifications on Barbados, Dominica, St. Christopher’s and St. Vincent’s. The remaining reports are investigations into account fraud by bookkeepers on Barbados and St. Christopher’s.

The 43 miscellaneous military documents regard the Royal Engineer Corps. 10 documents pertain to land in Great Britain, several of which relate to the estate of George Moncrieff. The most extensive of the land documents is 13 pages in length and is titled “Search of Incumbrances on the Lands of Kingsbarns” (November 11 to November 20, 1887). The 41 documents related to personal affairs are almost exclusively accounts and receipts of James Moncrieff.

The 14 miscellaneous items include four bound volumes, including a manuscript book of poetry and notes by Moncrieff on the principles of war and on water drainage. The remaining 10 items are all undated and consist of: one printed fragment, one manuscript fragment, six unlabeled maps, one broadside and a print labeled “THE CASINO Promenade Concert Rooms.”