Evolution of the Ordnance Department

Growth of Field Organization

When Washington took command of the troops at Cambridge on 3 July 1775, he quickly became, aware of the lack of certain essential staff officers common to the armies of that day. Among these was a Commissary of Artillery Stores, soon called Commissary of Military Stores in the Continental Army. At Washington's request, the Continental Congress on 19 July authorized him to appoint such an officer and subsequently fixed the latter's pay at 30 dollars per month. It provided no military rank for this commissary.1 Washington appointed Ezekiel Cheever to the post. Cheever had acquired some experience by transporting cannon and producing and delivering carriages for cannon for the Massachusetts Committee of Safety on the eve of the Revolution.2 The Commander in Chief directed him to make an immediate and exact return of all stores in his department and to deposit all powder, lead, and flints in the magazine designated for that purpose. It was the function of the commanding officer of the First Regiment of Artillery-Col. Richard Gridley-to supervise the collection of all ordnance stores and to place them under the care of the Commissary of Military Stores. Three months later Col. Henry Knox succeeded Colonel Gridley. Knox served as Commanding Officer, or Chief, of Artillery to the end of the Revolutionary War.3

The Commissary of Military Stores, as an officer with the troops in the field, was primarily responsible for receiving and issuing ordnance stores. Cheever's duties were restricted to the main Continental army, but there were other commissaries of military stores serving in the field. In the summer

1. (1) Fitzpatrick, Writings of Washington, 3:324 (10 Jul 75). (2) JCC, 2:191, 220 (19 and 29 Jul 75).
2. (1) Fitzpatrick, Writings of Washington, 3:427-28 (GO, 17 Aug 75). (2) Force, Am. Arch., 4th ser., 1: 1366 - 67 (5 Jan 75). (3) Cheever served as Commissary of Military Stores with the main Continental army until 1777, when he was appointed commissary of military stores at Springfield, Mass., in the Department of the Commissary General of Military Stores. He served in that post until his retirement in the summer of 1781. See RG 93, Letter Books of Samuel Hodgdon, 92:107 (Hodgdon to Luke Bliss, 14 Aug 81). Hereafter cited as RG 93, Hodgdon Letters.
3. JCC, 3:358-59 (17 Nov 75). Knox became brigadier general on 27 December 1776 and major general on 22 March 1782 (with rank from 15 November 178 1 ).


of 1776 Congress commissioned Benjamin Hower, a lieutenant in the First Battalion of the Associators of Philadelphia, as Commissary of military stores for the flying camp it had established in New Jersey. For a time Samuel Hodgdon served as commissary of military stores with the Northern Army under Maj. Gen. Horatio Gates, and he subsequently became Commissary of Military Stores with the main army. In 1782 Richard Frothingham was appointed to that position, serving until the end of the war.4

When the British evacuated Boston in March 1776 and Washington's army prepared to move to New York, Colonel Knox was responsible for hurrying the field cannon and ordnance stores to Norwich, Connecticut. Washington instructed him to assist Cheever in loading the ammunition and ordnance stores, taking care to forward first those stores-such as powder, musket balls, fixed ammunition, empty paper cannon cartridges, flints, fuzes, and the like-which would be first in demand at the general rendezvous. A conductor accompanied each brigade of thirty teams on the march to Norwich to make certain that no supplies were lost by abandonment on the road, as had occurred when supplies were carted around Cambridge. These conductors were only the first of many to be appointed. Conductors remained a part of the field organization of the Ordnance Department throughout the war. Powder was transported in covered wagons taken from the British, and fixed ammunition went in tumbrels; both were under the immediate care of Commissary Cheever. By the last week in April the artillery and all the ordnance stores were embarked at New London, awaiting a fair wind to complete their movement by water to New York.6 A deputy, Nathaniel Barber, remained at Boston to take care of ordnance stores left there.7

In the course of the campaign in New York it became increasingly clear that the Artillery arm of the Continental Army would have to be strengthened and that improvements would have to be made in the support given to it. Following the evacuation of New York City by the American forces in September 1776, the Continental Congress sent a committee to inquire into the deficiencies of the several. departments of the Continental Army. For the guidance of this committee, Colonel Knox submitted "hints" for establishing a "respectable body of Artillery" and for providing an

4. (1) Force, Am. Arch., 5th ser., 1: 156 (10 Jul 76). (2) RG 11, CC Papers, reel 50, item 41, 4:157-60 (Hodgdon memorial, undated, read 26 Jan 81). (3) Washington Papers, reel 87, ser. 4, (Knox to Washington, 16 Sep 82).
5. For the origins and use of the term "Ordnance Department," see below, "Regulation of the Department.
6. Washington Papers, reel 35 (instructions to Knox, 3 Apr 76; Knox to Washington, 21 and 24 Apr 76).
7. The date of Barber's appointment is unknown, but he served at Boston, first as part of the field organization and later as a deputy commissary in the Department of the Commissary General of Military Stores until his resignation on 5 March 1781. (1) JCC, 19:232. (2) RG 93, Hodgdon Letters, 92:45 (to Barber, 12 Mar 81).



academy for training officers of this corps. In addition, he made recommendations not only for increasing the field organization supporting the Artillery but also for establishing a civil branch of the Ordnance Department.8 In accordance with his suggestions, the Continental Congress in October authorized the appointment of a deputy commissary of military stores for the troops near New York. At the same time, it empowered Washington to appoint, from time to time, as many conductors as he judged necessary.9 By the fall of 1776 the field organization with Washington's army consisted of the Commissary of Military Stores, a deputy commissary, and a varying number of conductors and clerks. Essentially, this remained the field organization with the main army throughout the war.10

Origins of the Civil Branch

In 1775 the principal magazine for powder and other military stores was. located at Cambridge under the care of Commissary Cheever. There

8. Knox Papers, LM-39, reel 3 (Knox to committee, 27 Sep 76).
9. JCC, 6:859-60 (9 Oct 76).
10. Information on the field organization for the Northern and Southern Armies is fragmentary. No complete organization is available for any specific time. Each army, however, made use of conductors and field commissaries. General Greene, for example, appointed Maj. John Mazaret as his field deputy. At about the same time, the Board of War ordered Thomas Jones from the main army to act as deputy field commissary to the Southern Army. Greene Papers, vol. 11 (Greene to Bd of War, 7 Dec 80); vol. 34 (Richard Peters to Thomas Jones, 13 Jun 81); vol. 35 (Greene to John Pryor, 15 Jun 81).


were magazines also at Roxbury, Prospect Hill, and Winter Hill. In the following year the retreat of Washington's army in New York permitted the use of only temporary depositories. Experience demonstrated that it was best not to have the principal ordnance laboratory with the army. In the terminology of that day, a laboratory was any place-it might be a room or store rented for the purpose-where ordnance stores, such as musket cartridges, could be prepared.12 In the field artillerymen were hampered by the need to repair torn harnesses and to mend broken carriages for cannon. This work had to be accomplished by drawing upon the skills of artificers among the troops.

Colonel Knox therefore recommended to the congressional committee sent to New York that one or more main laboratories be established at a distance from the seat of war where large quantities of ordnance stores could be prepared and where artificers could be employed in making carriages for cannon, ammunition wagons, tumbrels, and harnesses. He further suggested that a foundry be erected nearby for casting brass cannon, mortars, and howitzers. In addition to the artificers at the fixed laboratories, he considered that at least a hundred artificers ought to be attached to the Artillery regiments in the field to repair carriages, make platforms, and attend to "a thousand other matters belonging to the Artillery."13 Acting upon the committee's report, the Continental Congress on 9 October 1776 directed the Board of War to prepare a plan for establishing a Continental laboratory and a military academy, and to provide a suitable number of Artillery regiments and a corps of artificers for them.14 Weeks passed, however, without further action, and Washington, preoccupied with the campaign of 1776, did not press the issue until late in December after the main army had gone into winter quarters and when preparations for the next year's campaign were under way.

On 12 December 1776, with the British threatening Philadelphia, Congress, apprehensive of disaster, conferred on Washington full power to direct everything relating to the military and the operation of the war until otherwise ordered. Writing from camp to the President of Congress on 20 December, Washington urged that the casting of cannon ought not to be delayed by a moment. The time was at hand for making preparations for the next campaign. He advised President John Hancock that he was therefore sending Colonel Knox to get this work started and to provide traveling carriages and shot. Laboratories would also be established, one at Hart

11. (1) RG 93, Misc Numbered Docs 21048 (return, 27 Jan 76). (2) Force, Am. Arch., 4th ser., 5:114 (Cheever return, 4 Mar 76).
12. On 11 May 1776 Washington directed Knox to order all cannon and musket cartridges "to be filled in a room appointed for that purpose, in the upper battery, near the bowling Green." Fitzpatrick, Writings of Washington, 5:38.
13. Knox Papers, LM-39, reel 3 (Knox to committee, 27 Sep 76).
14. JCC, 6:859-60.


ford, Connecticut, And the other at York, Pennsylvania.15 A week later Congress, which had prudently adjourned to Baltimore, directed its committee remaining at Philadelphia to contract with qualified persons to erect at Carlisle, Pennsylvania, a magazine of sufficient size to contain 10,000 stand of arms and 200 tons of gunpowder. The contract was to include the construction of a laboratory adjacent to the magazine. Congress also requested the Massachusetts Bay Council to contract for the erection of a magazine of similar size and a laboratory at Brookfield.16

As soon as Washington received these resolutions, he discussed them with Knox. The latter, as well as others with whom Washington consulted, continued to believe that York and Hartford were preferable locations for magazines and laboratories. Washington asked Congress to permit the plans to be carried out at those places. In the meantime, he promptly dispatched Knox to Hartford to contract for such buildings, materials, and artificers as would be needed to establish the magazine and laboratory there.17 On-the-spot investigation led Knox to conclude that Springfield, Massachusetts, was better suited than any other place in New England for a laboratory and foundry. He advised Washington that copper, tin, and other materials could be obtained in the area, and that the necessary works and preparations could be accomplished three to four months sooner at that location than anywhere else. In view of the preparations still to be made for the coming campaign, time was an essential factor to be considered. Washington therefore directed Knox to proceed with the work at Springfield, and he undertook to obtain congressional approval. After some delay, occasioned by those members who favored Brookfield, the Continental Congress approved the location of a magazine and laboratory at Springfield.18 The works erected there became the predecessor of the national armory established in Springfield in 1794. Seeing no advantage to be gained by insisting on placing the second laboratory at York, Washington accepted Congress’ designation of Carlisle as its location and pushed work at that place.

Appointment of Commissary General Flower

At the same time that he sent Knox to New England in January 1777, Washington appointed Benjamin Flower as Commissary General of Military

15. Fitzpatrick, Writings of Washington, 6:406.
16. (1) JCC, 6:1043-44 (27 Dec 76). (2) Force, Am. Arch., 5th set., 3:1457 (Pres of Cong to Mass. Bay Council, 28 Dec 76); 1457-58 (James Wilson to Robert Morris, 28 Dec 76).
17. Fitzpatrick, Writings of Washington, 7:22-23 (to Pres of Cong, 17 Jan 77); 18-19 (to Knox, 16 Jan 77).
18. (1) Ibid., 7:139 (to Knox, 11 Feb 77); 146-47 (to Pres of Cong, 14 Feb 77). (2) Washington Papers, reel 39, set. 4 (Knox to Washington, 1 Feb 77). (3) Burnett, Letters, 2:324 (John Adams to Washington, 13 Apr 77). (4) JCC, 7:266 (14 Apr 77).


Stores with the rank of lieutenant colonel of Artillery Artificers.19 Congress subsequently-on 11 February 1778-granted him the pay and rations of a colonel. When Flower later also sought the rank of colonel, Washington saw no necessity for granting it; he held that the existing rank was "fully competent to every purpose."20 In 1777 he sent Flower immediately to Pennsylvania to establish a magazine and laboratory at York, although the work was soon transferred to Carlisle. He directed the Commissary General of Military Stores to provide buildings for preparing fixed ammunition and to construct an air furnace capable of holding 3,000 pounds of fluxed metal, as well as a mill to bore cannon after they were cast. Washington also ordered Flower to provide sufficient shops to

accommodate 40 carpenters, 40 blacksmiths, 20 wheelwrights, 12 harness makers, and such turners and tinmen as the laboratory required, enlisting these artificers for one year.21 In addition, at Washington's orders, Flower employed an Artillery company under Capt. Isaac Coren in the laboratory at Carlisle. Enlisted for the duration of the war, this company fixed all kinds of ammunition in accord with the orders Flower received. The latter also enlisted for the duration of the war a company of sixty artificers attached to the Artillery in the field.

Under orders from the Board of War, the Pennsylvania Council of Safety had been engaged in preparing supplies for Washington's army in Philadelphia.23 Washington advised Flower that those artificers already employed in that city in making carriages for cannon, casting cannon, and preparing ammunition were to continue their work, and the Commissary General was to do everything in his power to expedite their efforts. After the buildings, mill, and furnace were erected at Carlisle, some of the activities at Philadelphia were to be moved there. Washington instructed Flower to contract for and procure a list of articles that the Commander in Chief

19. Flower assured Knox that he had held the rank of lieutenant colonel when Congress had appointed him commissary of military stores for the flying camp in July 1776. Knox later advised Washington that he had discovered that Flower's commission did not show this, but at the time he had accepted Flower's statement. Washington gave Flower the rank of lieutenant colonel because he would have command over the companies of artificers at Philadelphia and Carlisle. It was Flower's insistence that the word "general" be inserted in his title that resulted in his being designated Commissary General of Military Stores, although Washington made some objections to that title. Washington Papers, reel 58 (Knox to Washington, 13 May 79).
20. (1) His pay and ration allowance as a colonel were to date from 16 July 1776, presumably from the time Congress first appointed him a commissary of military stores, rather than from the date of his commission as Commissary General of Military Stores granted by Washington. (2) Fitzpatrick, Writings of Washington, 15:79-80 (to Bd of War, 14 May 79).
21. This may well have been the only period of enlistment then obtainable.
22. The artificers were to include a master carpenter, master wheelwright, and master blacksmith, as well as 2 tinmen, 2 turners, 2 coopers, 4 harness makers, 2 nailers, 2 farriers, 6 wheelwrights, 25 carpenters, and 15 smiths. The company was to be under the direction of the master carpenter.
23. On 30 November 1776, for example, Congress requested the Pennsylvania Council of Safety to make carriages for fieldpieces at the government's expense. JCC, 6:994.


had prepared, to obtain needed funds from the committee of Congress in Philadelphia, and to keep an accurate account of expenditures, which he was to submit when requested.24

Commissary General Flower arrived in Philadelphia on 21 January 1777, laid his instructions before the committee of Congress, and obtained 2,000 dollars which he distributed to the various recruiting officers. He appointed Jonathan Gostelowe and Joseph Watkins as commissaries of stores; they were to collect and arrange the military stores in Philadelphia with the approval of the Pennsylvania Council of Safety. The two commissaries organized the military stores and set several armorers to work repairing arms

under the direction of Thomas Butler, whom Congress had brought from Baltimore and appointed public armorer. In mid-February Flower departed for Carlisle, where he selected a site for the magazine and laboratory and appointed the officers necessary to carry out the work. Subsequently, he gave orders for building a lime kiln, for making bricks, and for quarrying stone to further the construction at Carlisle. He also obtained an order from the Board of War for a number of Hessian prisoners to be employed as laborers.25

Flower's activities were by no means limited to fulfilling his initial instructions. In addition to getting operations under way at Carlisle and organizing the ordnance supply situation at Philadelphia, he filled orders for supplies from General Knox as the campaign of 1777 progressed. When the British approached Philadelphia, Congress directed Flower to remove all stores from that city. In the meantime, the Board of War ordered him to take command of a train of artillery that it had ordered to reinforce the main army on 11 September 1777. When Congress soon countermanded this order, it directed Flower instead to post a number of the pieces at places on the Schuylkill River. After accomplishing this task, the Commissary General went to camp, where Washington ordered him and Deputy Quartermaster General Henry Lutterloh to remove all stores from Trenton to Allentown, Pennsylvania, as quickly as possible. Orders from Knox took him to York in November to obtain lead for the laboratory at Carlisle. Not surprisingly, excessive fatigue and hardship brought him low with a fever, which confined him to camp for two months. In January 1778 Congress ordered him to request the New Jersey legislature to put a suitable person in charge of the Andover ironworks. Under instructions from Washington, Flower left camp on 22 February 1778, first to Allentown to supervise the removal of stores and factories to Lebanon, then to New Jersey to accomplish Congress' order, and finally to York to report to the Board of

24. Fitzpatrick, Writings of Washington, 7:20-22 (to Flower, 16 Jan 77).
25. (1) RG 11, CC Papers, reel 76, item 62, fols. 639-50 (Flower declaration, 19 Aug 78). (2) JCC, 7:55 (22 Jan 77).


[page omitted]


War.26 Throughout this period Flower was under the immediate orders of General Knox and the Commander in Chief, but he also carried out orders from the President of the Continental Congress and from the Board of War.

Regulation of the Department

In his "hints" of 27 September 1776, Knox had recommended that the laboratories, the foundry, and all matters respecting the Artillery and artillery stores should be under the direction of a board of ordnance that would regulate and manage the affairs of an Artillery, or Ordnance, Department and receive all returns, He had in mind something akin to the British Board of Ordnance. Headed by the Master General of Ordnance or the Commander-in-Chief of the Artillery, that board regulated everything relating to the Artillery in the British Army .21 Much to his surprise and embarrassment, the regulatory resolutions passed by Congress early in 1778 promoted confusion by mixing the activities of the Commissary of Military Stores, who operated with the troops in the field, with those of the civil branch headed by the Commissary General of Military Stores. Members of Congress obviously had. misunderstood what Knox had recommended. They apparently had confused the British Board of Ordnance with the Board of War that they had established. They proceeded to place all control and direction of the Department of the Commissary General of Military Stores in the hands of the Board of War, including jurisdiction over much that related to the organization of the Commissary of Military Stores in the field.

The regulation provided for one Commissary General of Military Stores, who received and delivered all arms, ammunition, and accouterments and furnished and contracted for all articles needed in his department according to directions from the Board of War. All Continental armorers were under his direction and that of the Board of War. The armorers received all arms to be repaired from the Commissary General and delivered all repaired arms to his store. All Artillery Artificers, except those employed with the Continental Army in the field, were also under his immediate direction. He applied to the Board of War for all money to be drawn for military stores and accounted every six months to the Treasury Board for the money drawn. The regulation allowed the civil branch, as well as the field organization, as many assistants, commissaries, deputy commissaries, conductors, and clerks as the service required, all appointed by the Board of War. It fixed the pay of all personnel but attached no military rank to positions in the Department of the Commissary General of Military Stores except to those of officers serving in the newly created Regiment of Artillery Artificers.28

26. RG 11, CC Papers, reel 76, item 62, fols. 639-50 (Flower declaration, 19 Aug 78). 27. Washington Papers, reel 50, ser. 4 (Knox to Washington, 15 Jun 78). 28. JCC, 10: 141, 144 -50 (11 Feb 78).


Under the regulation, all commissaries, deputy commissaries, conductors, and clerks who had the separate charge of any military stores transmitted an exact return on the first day of every month to the Board of War and a copy to the Commissary General of Military Stores. The latter consolidated these into one general return, which he submitted to the Board of War on the first day of the following month. The Commissary General was responsible for providing the instructions and the form in which all these returns were to be made. From time to time the Board of War transmitted transcripts of all returns received from the Commissary General, along with accounts of all ordnance and ordnance stores under its care and their places of deposit, to the Commander in Chief so that he could make requisitions of these supplies and advise and give directions regarding their disposition.

Knox, who as Chief of Artillery considered himself head of the Ordnance Department, found himself deprived of any direction of that department except to a limited degree in the field. The regulation provided that he, the chief engineer, the "commissary of artillery" (that is, the Commissary of Military Stores), and the oldest colonel of Artillery in camp were to constitute a subordinate board of ordnance under the direction of the Commander in Chief or the Board of War for transacting all business of the Ordnance Department in the field, including the care of all ordnance and stores at camp. In an emergency the Commissary General of Military Stores was obliged to obey this board's directions as to any supplies needed by Washington's army.

Knox considered his position equivalent to that of the Master General of Ordnance or the Commander-in-Chief of the Artillery in the British Army. He insisted that in all European armies a general officer had the command and direction of the Artillery and the preparation of all items in the Ordnance Department. To assist him in executing his broad responsibilities, this general officer had commissaries, clerks, conductors, and artificers under his direction.29 Knox thus felt he was justly critical of a regulation that invested the Commissary General of Military Stores with the sole charge of all preparation of ordnance and military stores for the field.

In 1778 the term "Ordnance Department" was in general use in the correspondence between Knox, Washington, and the President of the Continental Congress, as well as in the regulation that the Continental Congress adopted. The term as used by Congress applied only to the organization directed by the Commissary of Military Stores in the field, which was under the direction of Knox as Chief of Artillery, and to all Ordnance activities pertaining to the field. The civil branch continued to be headed by the Commissary General of Military Stores under the direction of the Board of War. Congress later modified its regulation to provide a better relationship between the Department of the Commissary General of Military Stores and the

29. Washington Papers, reel 50, ser. 4 (to Washington, 15 Jun 78).


Ordnance Department in the field. Despite the distinctions thus drawn, however, correspondents during the Revolutionary War were still likely to include both the field and the civil branches in referring to the Ordnance Department.30

A copy of the regulation of 1778 reached the Commander in Chief at Valley Forge. Knox, who was getting the Artillery in readiness for the coming campaign, found he had no authority to prescribe the dimensions or other details regarding the construction of any carriages or cannon, or, as he wrote Washington, to direct the making of portfires, tubes, fuzes, and a thousand other matters upon which the success of actions might depend. In his letter he annexed a list of proposed amendments to the regulation of 11 February that he hoped Congress would adopt. But by mid-June, when he submitted these proposals to the Commander in Chief, the main army was on the march from Valley Forge, and Washington did not transmit Knox's letter and remarks to the President of the Continental Congress until August.31 Some inconveniences, he informed the latter, had resulted from the existing establishment of the Ordnance Department, which he attributed to the total independence of the Commissary General of Military Stores from control by the Chief of Artillery. He left to Congress the determination of the necessary alterations.

Characteristically, Congress took no immediate action. In late December 1778, when Washington's army was in winter quarters and when preparations had to be made for the next campaign, Knox again called Washington's attention to this "preposterous arrangement." During the course of the last campaign, he informed him, he had repeatedly been at a loss to know in an emergency where to send for stores because of a lack of returns. Commissaries in the Department of the Commissary General of Military Stores did not feel obliged to send him returns even when he requested them.32 Washington was in Philadelphia in January 1779 meeting with a committee appointed by Congress to confer with him about plans for the next campaign. He directed the committee's attention to the need for making changes in the organization of the Ordnance Department and presented a copy of Knox's December letter. The committee agreed that the department was on a "very improper footing," and at its request Washington ordered Knox to Philadelphia to confer with the committee.33

30. (1) See ibid., reel 55, ser. 4 (Washington to Knox, 14 Jan 79). (2) Fitzpatrick, Writings of Washington, 10:506 (to Bd of War, 23 Feb 78).
31. (1) Washington Papers, reel 50, ser. 4 (15 Jun 78). (2) Fitzpatrick, Writings of Washington, 12:273-74 (3 Aug 78).
32. Washington Papers, reel 50, ser. 4 (30 Dec 78).
33. (1) Ibid., reel 55, set. 4 (to Knox, 14 Jan 79). (2) Fitzpatrick, Writings (if Washington, 13:485-91 (to Committee of Conference, 8 Jan 79).


Revised Regulation for Field Organization

Out of these conferences emerged a report in February 1779 which became the basis for new procedures in the Ordnance Department.34 Under the new legislation the Chief of Artillery, with the concurrence of the Commander in Chief, arranged and directed all business of the Ordnance Department in the field. Ordnance, arms, and military stores in the fixed magazines could be withdrawn only by orders of the Board of War except in emergencies, when any delay in obtaining such orders could be disastrous. In such cases the Chief of Artillery could requisition needed supplies from those magazines nearest the troops. The commissaries and directors of the magazines and laboratories would have to fill his requisitions immediately, informing the Board of War of what they had done. So that the Chief of Artillery and the Commander in Chief would know where to send for supplies, the board was to send them monthly returns of all ordnance, arms, and military stores at the magazines and arsenals.

The regulation continued a Commissary of Military Stores in the field. Appointed by the Board of War, he took his orders from the Commander in Chief and the Chief of Artillery. He was allowed as many deputies, conductors, and clerks, all appointed by the Board of War, as were required. All of these field officers were independent of the Commissary General of Military Stores. The principal field Commissary of Military Stores made monthly returns to the Board of War, the Commander in Chief, and the Chief of Artillery of all ordnance, arms, and military stores received, issued, and on hand. Any deputies or conductors having the care of military stores with detached elements made similar returns to the Board of War and to the Commissary of Military Stores. The latter consolidated the whole into one general monthly return, sending a copy to the Board of War, the Commander in Chief, the Chief of Artillery, and the Commissary General of Military Stores.

The field Commissary of Military Stores drew all money necessary for his department from the military chests on warrants from, the Commander in Chief, and auditors adjusted and settled accounts of expenditures every three months, transmitting the accounts to the Treasury Board. The deputy field commissaries and conductors applied for and received all ordnance, arms, and military stores issued from the fixed arsenals and magazines, accepting none that were unfit for service. Whenever ordnance items in the field were so damaged that they could not be repaired there, they were sent to the Commissary General of Military Stores or to any of his deputies, who received them and immediately had them repaired or replaced them with others fit for service.

From time to time the Chief of Artillery, with the concurrence.of the Commander in Chief, sent to the Board of War, for transmission to

34. JCC, 13:200-206 (18 Feb 19).


Congress, estimates of all ordnance, arms, and military stores required by the Continental Army. In addition, whenever alterations and improvements were to be made in the construction or preparation of ordnance, arms, and military stores, the Chief of Artillery communicated the directions to the Board of War, which gave the necessary orders to the artificers and laboratory men. Knox also sent Artillery officers to visit the laboratories, foundries, and factories so that they might gain an insight into that side of their profession. Such Artillery officers as could be spared from their duties in the field were stationed at the principal laboratories and were instructed in the various processes in order to disseminate this knowledge throughout the corps.

The regulation provided also for an annual appointment by the Board of War of one surveyor of ordnance from among the Artillery colonels. This officer retained his rank in the Artillery, but during the year of his appointment he did not serve in the line. As surveyor, he examined the construction, qualities, and condition of all cannon, carriages, and arms; the quality of all materials used in making ordnance stores; and the preparation of those stores. He visited the different Continental arsenals, foundries, laboratories, and workshops, noting any problems, which he reported immediately, together with his suggestions for improvements, to the Board of War and to the Chief of Artillery. He also examined all ordnance and military stores in the field, reporting their condition to the Chief of Artillery and to the Board of War.35

Improvement of Field Arrangements

In the early years of the war the lack of discipline in the Continental Army had led to various abuses. To promote the better care and preservation of arms and ammunition, Washington had requested that General Knox, Quartermaster General Greene, and Adjutant General Alexander Scammell meet and evolve a plan. While in Philadelphia in January 1779 to meet with the committee of Congress that had conferred with Washington about the next campaign, Knox drew up several proposals, which the Board of War approved. Greene, the Adjutant General, and Inspector General Friedrich Wilhelm von Steuben also approved. Basically, Knox's plan required the appointment of a conductor for each brigade of infantry. Under the terms of

35. (1) Washington had insisted that the surveyor be a military rather than a civil officer, for it was his intent to acquaint all the Artillery officers, by rotation, with all the duties of the Ordnance Department. Fitzpatrick, Writings of Washington, 14:68 (to Committee of Conference, 2 Feb 79). (2) For the pay Congress allowed the surveyor, the Chief of Artillery for the extra duties he performed, and the officers of the Ordnance Department in the field under the regulation of 1779, and for modifications made two years later, see JCC, 13:204-05 (18 Feb 79); 14:49-51 (12 Jan 81).


the new regulation, these conductors had to be appointed by the Board of War.36

Each conductor had charge of a traveling forge equipped with tools for making all repairs of arms that were practicable in the field. For this purpose, the officer commanding the brigade furnished five or six armorers who, under the direction of the conductor, repaired and kept in good order the arms of the brigade. No other type of repair work was to be done by these traveling forges. Such a prohibition was necessary, Knox maintained, for otherwise officers would have their horses shod or would have sundry other work performed. Each brigade conductor also had under his care an ammunition wagon and a wagon with an arms chest for each regiment. The ammunition wagon carried 20,000 extra musket cartridges-the soldiers had a complete complement of cartridges in their cartouche boxes-and materials to make another 20,000. When deficiencies arose, the conductor applied to the brigade commanding officer, who furnished a party of experienced men to make cartridges under the direction of the conductor.

All arms, accouterments, and ammunition belonging to the sick, absentees, deserters, and men not on regimental duty were delivered to the care of the conductor, who redelivered them when ordered to do so by the commanding officers of the men's respective regiments. Under this plan, when supplies were required, the brigadiers ordered regimental returns to be made of all arms, ammunition, and accouterments-categorized as good, bad, or needed by the particular regiments-with an explanation of the deficiencies that occasioned the demand. The regimental returns were then consolidated into a brigade return signed by the brigadier, delivered to the conductor of military stores, and presented to the Chief of Artillery. The latter ordered all or a proportion of the required articles to be issued, depending on the state of the stores. The commanding officer of a regiment gave a receipt to the conductor for the articles received. Deductions were made in the pay of the troops for all deficiencies that were unaccounted for. Knox's proposals were incorporated in a General Order that Washington issued in May.37

This system of brigade conductors continued to function until the fall of 1782 when, as an economy measure,. they were eliminated on the recommendation of both General Knox and the Commissary General of Military Stores. The conductors delivered all the stores, wagons, forges, and tools in their possession to the brigade quartermasters, who then became responsible for the conductors' duties, as they had been before the system of conductors was instituted. The procedure for handling regimental returns

36. Washington Papers, reel 56, set. 4 (Knox to Washington, 5 Mar 79); reel 57, set. 4 (same to same, 25 Mar 79).
37. (1) Ibid., reel 56, ser. 4 (Knox to Washington, 5 May 79). (2) Fitzpatrick, Writings of Washington, 15:101-05 (19 May 79).


remained unchanged except that the returns flowed through the hands of the brigade quartermasters rather than those of the brigade conductors.38

Reduction of Field Organization

Efforts to reduce expenditures in 1782 caused Benjamin Lincoln, Secretary at War, to review the needs of the field organization of the Ordnance Department. Congress had empowered him to appoint, from time to time, as many officers from the line as were required .39 In July he wrote to General Knox requesting his opinion on the requirements of the organization directed by the Commissary of Military Stores. Lincoln questioned the need for retaining a deputy field commissary of military stores at West Point. Since this officer's duties included issuing stores to support Albany and the northern posts, Knox insisted on his retention, and then outlined the whole field organization that would be required. Washington concurred in his views, and Congress incorporated them in resolutions passed on 3 September 1782.40 These provided for one Commissary of Military Stores and two conductors or clerks for the main Continental army in the field; one deputy field commissary and two conductors or clerks for West Point; one deputy field commissary and two conductors or clerks for the Southern Army; and one conductor for the post at Fort Pitt. They were appointed by the Chief of Artillery and approved by the Commander in Chief, except for those officers serving with the Southern Army, who were appointed by the commanding officer of Artillery of that army and approved by the commanding officer of the Southern Department. Knox submitted his nominations, and the Secretary at War directed him to make the appointments .41

Extent of the Commissary General's Department

Under the regulatory legislation enacted in February 1778, all fixed arsenals, laboratories, and magazines became part of the Department of the Commissary General of Military Stores, under the control and direction of the Board of War. As a result, the magazine at Boston was thereafter subject to the orders of the Commissary General of Military Stores. It was presided over by Deputy Commissary Nathaniel Barber, assisted by several conductors, whose duties appear to have been chiefly those of receiving, storing,

38. (1) Knox Papers, LM-39, reel 9 (Lincoln to Knox, 26 Jul 82; Knox to Lincoln, 7 Aug 82). (2) RG 93, Hodgdon Letters, 92:181-82 (to Committee on Arrangements, 8 Apr 82). (3) Fitzpatrick, Writings of Washington, 25:189 (GO, 23 Sep 82).
39. JCC, 22:415 (24 Jul 82).
40. (1) Knox Papers, LM-39, reel 9 (Lincoln to Knox, 26 Jul 82; Knox to Lincoln, 7 Aug 82). (2) JCC, 23:540-41 (3 Sep 82),
41. (1) Washington Papers, reel 87, set. 4 (Knox to Washington, 16 Sep 82). (2) Knox Papers, LM-39, reel 9 (Lincoln to Knox, 27 Sep 82). (3) Rescinding all earlier resolutions governing pay, Congress also reduced the.salaries of personnel in its resolutions of 3 September.


and forwarding military stores. The Boston depository functioned until 1781, when the Board of War abolished it and transferred its functions to Springfield.42 In 1778 the Commissary General's Department also absorbed the Ordnance activities at Albany. Originally established by Maj. Gen. Philip Schuyler to support the Northern Army, the laboratory there had prepared ammunition for the campaign in Canada early in the war. After military activities in the Northern Department dwindled, the Ordnance post at Albany was headed by a storekeeper, assisted by a clerk. It was used primarily for storage, although the making and repair of arms continued there throughout the war. In November 1780, for example, seventy-six armorers were listed among its personnel.43 Records indicate that there was a deputy commissary for the Western Department at Fort Pitt by mid-1779. The Commissary General of Military Stores knew little or nothing of his activities, however, and appears to have exercised no supervision over them.44

The regulation. of February 1778 placed the laboratory established by Knox at Springfield under the control of the Commissary General of Military Stores, but for the next two years neither he nor the Board of War exercised any supervision over it. Various branches of work, such as fixing ammunition, mounting cannon, making harness and infantry accouterments, and repairing arms, were carried on successfully until late in 1779. By that time, a dispute over precedence between Ezekiel Cheever, appointed commissary of military stores at Springfield, and Lt. Col. David Mason, designated deputy commissary to superintend the laboratory, reached such proportions as to hamper all work. The effect of this dispute caused the flow of ordnance stores from that arsenal to fall to a "trifling" amount.45 Public complaints against abuses by officers at the post increased, but the Board of War delayed taking any action until the summer of 1780. It then dismissed Mason, and Cheever retired in 1781. The Board of War designated new officers and instituted operations on a reduced scale at Springfield.46 In the Middle Department the major arsenals and laboratories of the Department of the Commissary General of Military Stores were located in Pennsylvania at Philadelphia and Carlisle. Temporary, smaller magazines and workshops, headed by commissaries of military stores, were established from time to time at Lancaster, Lebanon, and Allentown.

42. RG 93, Hodgdon Letters, 92:45 (to Barber, 12 Mar 81).
43. (1) JCC, 4:110-11 (5 Feb 76); 6:1041-42 (30 Dee 76). (2) RG 93, Misc Numbered Docs 21239 (list of dept officers, November 1780); 21021 (Albany return, 1 Mar 81); 21053 (return, September 1777). (3) Fitzpatrick, Writings of Washington, 7:162-63 (to Schuyler, 19 Feb 77).
44. For example, see JCC, 18:1001 (1 Nov 80).
45. RG 93, Hodgdon Letters, 110:90-93 (to Bd of War, 10 Jul 80); 112-14 (Pickering to Joseph Hiller, 7 Sep 80),
46. (1) JCC, 17:670-72 (report, 17 Jul 80); 21:814-16 (30 Jul 81). (2) RG 11, CC Papers, recl 161, 2:97-104 (Bd of War to Cong, 30 Jul 81). (3) RG 93, Hodgdon Letters, 92:107 (to Luke Bliss, 14 Aug 8 1).


The headquarters of the Commissary General's department was in Philadelphia, where Commissary General Flower in 1777 had appointed two commissaries of military stores. Expanding business soon necessitated the appointment of a number of clerks, and, because Flower's duties frequently took him to camp, Carlisle, and other posts, he appointed an assistant commissary general of military stores to disburse money and keep a set of account books.47 The latter had the same pay and rations as a commissary of military stores. On the recommendation of some members of the Pennsylvania Council of Safety, Flower appointed Cornelius Sweers to this post. Approximately a year later, the Board of War, without consulting Flower, promoted Sweers to deputy commissary general of military stores. When Sweers was removed on charges of fraud in the summer of 1778, that post remained vacant for more than a year.48 From the modest beginnings made by Flower in 1777, the establishment in Philadelphia expanded to include, by April 1780, a deputy commissary general, two commissaries of military stores, a paymaster, six conductors, and seven clerks. In addition to the personnel in his office, there were four hired superintendents who had charge of an armory, a brass foundry, a blacksmith shop, and an ordnance yard.49 Records indicate that two laboratories were in operation in Philadelphia, employing both men and women to make cartridges. There was also a drum factory and a factory producing various types of leather accouterments.

Carlisle was the other important Pennsylvania center of operations in the Department of the Commissary General of Military Stores. Flower's first appointees at Carlisle included a commissary of military stores who also acted as paymaster; a captain who served as superintendent of the leather factory, assisted by a civilian foreman; a contractor who also procured all lumber and other materials needed at the public works; and a superintendent of public works who also served as keeper of all stores. With the completion of the laboratory, magazine, and workshops, the superintendent of public works was no longer needed. In addition to the commissary of military stores and a contractor, the personnel list of 1780 included a superintendent of the armory, as well as a master collier and a master mason with their artisans and laborers.50

The Department of the Commissary General of Military Stores was further expanded in the summer of 1780 by the decision of the Board of War, approved by Congress, to erect a magazine and laboratory in Virginia to

47. RG 11, CC Papers, reel 76, item 62, fols. 639-50 (Flower declaration, 19 Aug 78). 48. Sweers was arrested and prosecuted for fraud in the summer of 1778. His false statements implicated Flower and caused his arrest, but the charges proved groundless, and Flower was released. JCC, 11:627-28 (20 Jun 78); 831-34 (24 Aug 78).
49. RG 93, Misc Numbered Docs 21226 (Flower to Commissioners of Arrangements, 30 Mar 80).
50. Ibid.


support the Southern Army. For this purpose, the board engaged the services of Capt. Nathaniel Irish, who since 1777 had been serving in the Regiment of Artillery Artificers under Colonel Flower.51 He was appointed to serve as a commissary of military stores. The department contracted for the services of an armorer and sent Captain Irish and his "hands" by way of Carlisle to pick up needed materials and an additional smith and carpenter if they could be spared from the works there. At Westham, five and a half miles from Richmond, Virginia, they found shelter in a barn until they could erect log cabins. The barn was thereupon utilized as a workshop and armory, and a small temporary laboratory, set up in a stable, began furnishing fixed ammunition, portfires, and tubes to two companies of Artillery.52

Artillery Artificers

The Department of the Commissary General of Military Stores eventually had under its control all of the companies of Artillery Artificers except those serving with the Continental Army in the field. Originally, under Washington's orders of January 1777, Colonel Flower had raised three companies of Artillery Artificers, including one sent to serve with the Artillery in the field, and a company of artillerymen employed in laboratory work. Except for the field company, they were employed under his direction at Philadelphia and Carlisle. These four companies would become the Regiment of Artillery Artificers in 1778.

At the same time, Knox had enlisted three companies of artificers-carpenters, blacksmiths, and wheelwrights-each under a captain. He also had established a company of armorers, consisting of a captain and nineteen privates, and a company of harness makers, with a captain and twelve privates. As late as 1780 none of the officers of these companies had been commissioned. All were employed at Springfield, and initially they were not under the direction or control of the Commissary General of Military Stores.53

In January 1778, when control of arsenals, magazines, and laboratories was still vested in the Commander in Chief and the Chief of Artillery, Washington instructed Knox to begin making his preparations for the coming campaign. He directed Knox to augment the laboratory companies now at

51. The case of Captain Irish illustrates the hardships imposed by Revolutionary service. He had expected to retain his commission in the Regiment of Artillery Artificers, with its emoluments, and to be paid an additional 1,500 dollars a month. Irish, however, was not about to gain a fortune. He had served as a captain in that regiment for three years at a pay so low that he had been obliged to sell a great part of his estate to support himself and his family, and now the proposed pay, including his captain's pay, would "not purchase thirty dollars in coin per month," according to the Board of War. RG 11, CC Papers, reel 159, 4:475-76 (Bd of War report, 29 Jul 80).
52. RG 93, Misc Numbered Docs 20631, 20632 (Irish to Hodgdon, 3 and 10 Nov 80).
53. Ibid., 21226 (Flower to Commissioners of Arrangements, 30 Mar 80).


Carlisle and Springfield to 100 men each, thus adding 40 men to each of these companies of artillerymen employed, in the laboratories. He also directed Knox to enlist for the duration of the war all the Artillery Artificers necessary for carrying on the different branches of work at these two posts; these men were to receive a uniform rate of pay, rations, and clothing, and were to be formed into as many companies as necessary for their supervision.54

In the meantime, Flower had been organizing his department. He had submitted a list of the Artillery, Artillery Artificer, and other officers under his command and had requested that they be granted commissions. Although Congress took favorable action in September 1777, the officers were not actually commissioned until November.55 In its resolutions of February 1778, Congress then ruled that in the future no rank was to be given to officers in the Department of the Commissary General of Military Stores except to those belonging to the Regiment of Artillery Artificers, and they were to have rank only in that corps. The pay they received as officers in the regiment was included in the pay that Congress established for the various positions in the department which they might fill. Thus a captain of the Artillery Artificers serving as a commissary of military stores would find his pay as a captain included In his pay as a commissary. Congress established the pay of the Artillery Artificers who engaged to serve for three years or the duration of the war at 20 dollars a month and granted them the same bounty, clothing, and other benefits allowed by Congress to the Continental Artillery. It granted the officers in the Regiment of Artillery Artificers the same pay as those of equal rank in the Continental Artillery.

The regulation of February 1778 placed all Artillery Artificers except those in the field under Commissary General Flower's direction and undercut Knox's authority. Taking cognizance of the orders Washington had given Knox in January, Congress directed Flower to augment the four companies ordered raised in 1777, which now constituted the Regiment of Artillery Artificers; add other companies to the regiment; and increase the pay of the officers and men in that regiment in accordance with Washington's orders.56 The resolutions thus eliminated the need for Knox to recruit other artiflerymen or Artillery Artificers, as Washington had directed, and, gave him the first information he had of the formation of the Regiment of Artillery Artificers. Congress also provided that if at any time more artificers were needed than, the Commissary General had enlisted or could enlist, his deputies, with the approval of the Board of War, could engage civilian artificers for the emergency on the most reasonable terms. Under this authority, for example, Capt. Theophilus Parke of the Regiment of Artillery Artificers hired shoemakers and saddlers to work in the leather accouterment factory at

54. Fitzpatrick, Writings of Washington, 10:277-79'(to Knox, 8 Jan 78).
55. JCC, 8:753 (18 Sep 77); 9:891 (11 Nov 77).
56. Ibid., 10:144-50 (11 Feb 78).


Philadelphia which he supervised. The Commissary General also hired men to work in the laboratory there, and during 1779 and 1780 he employed men and women to make carriages, although the women customarily worked at home.57 The Department of the Commissary General of Military Stores thus employed artillerymen, Artillery Artificers, and hired hands at Springfield, Carlisle, and Philadelphia to make and repair the hundreds of articles needed by Washington's army-belts, slings, cartouche boxes, drums, ammunition wagons, axletrees, limbers for traveling forges, wheelbarrows, sponges and rammer heads, powder casks, muskets, tools, belt buckles, coat buttons, bridles, musket balls, and buckshot, to mention but a few.

While officers of the Artillery company supervised the laboratory work and officers of the Artillery Artificers superintended other workshops, such as the leather accouterment factory or the ordnance yard, the department also followed the established practice of hiring civilian superintendents. In January 1777, Congress, acting on a Board of War report, appointed Thomas Butler as public armorer at Philadelphia at a pay of 3 dollars a day. He was to superintend the repair of arms and prevent any abuses by gunsmiths. Within some fifteen months, however, Congress dismissed him, selecting in his stead William Henry.58 In general, the superintendents of the armories, whether at Springfield, Carlisle, or Philadelphia, were all hired. Similarly, when a committee of Congress established a foundry in Philadelphia for casting brass cannon, it contracted in September 1777 with James Byers to supervise the project. He had previously engaged in such work for the main army in New York. Until his services were no longer needed in 1781, he continued as superintendent of the foundry.59 The Commissary General of Military Stores later employed superintendents to supervise other workshops as well.60

The use of enlisted artificers led to criticism. Since greater productiveness on their part brought no increase in pay and emoluments, enlisted personnel, critics charged, were too often idle and inattentive to their duty. The Board of War conceded that contracting for the work was the ideal method, but since the supply of workmen was small and the currency unstable, the only way of ensuring the availability of ordnance supplies was to use enlisted artificers. At the same time, depreciation of the currency brought great hardships to the Artillery Artificers, who, for the most part, had their families with them at their posts. The Board of War warned Congress that Flower's

57. (1) Ibid., 10: 149. (2) RG 93, Misc Numbered Docs 21324 (return, 27 Nov 78); 20452 and 20453 (Ordnance Account Books, 1779 and 1780); 21818 (return, 1780).
58. JCC, 7:55 (22 Jan 77); 10:380-81 (23 Apr 78).
59. (1) Fitzpatrick, Writings of Washington, 6:474 (to Robert Morris, George Clymer, and George Walton, 7 Jan 77). (2) RG 11, CC Papers, reel 157, 1:505-08 (Gates to Pres of Cong, 6 Feb 78); reel 48, item 41, 1:333-36 (Bd of War to Pres of Cong, 19 Dec 80). See also reel 41, 1:323-24 (Byers memorial, 30 Dec 80).
60. RG 93, Misc Numbered Does 21239 (return, 28 Nov 80).


department was on the eve of dissolution in the spring of 1779. The officers would not continue in the service to "their certain ruin," nor would artificers reenlist or recruits engage on the terms granted them. Officers who superintended their own men as well As hired men complained that they and their families were reduced to want while the mere journeyman hired to assist the enlisted men had enough at least to support his family. The enlisted artificers drew unfavorable comparisons between their situation and that of the hired men, who had ten times their pay. Reluctantly, the board proposed to raise the pay of the enlisted artificers and officers. It suggested that privates be paid according to their talents and industry and that officers be granted an increase in pay graduated according to rank. This proposed pay, the Board of War declared, was no more than four times that established in February 1778, although the necessaries of life had increased tenfold in cost.61

Another year passed before Congress, acting on another Board of War report, sharply increased the pay of the officers and privates in the Regiment of Artillery Artificers. At the same time, it retained only one officer in each company, who with the sergeants directed his men.62 This adjustment of pay to counteract the depreciation of the currency should have brought improvement. Unfortunately, not only were the men not paid but rations were not delivered. In consequence, "not a man in the Department is this day at work

for the Publick," Flower's deputy reported to the Board of War in the fall of 1780. The board sympathized with the men. The lack of rations at Philadelphia was found at every post where the artificers were employed. No work was done and no discipline could be enforced, for "men cannot consistent with any Principle of Justice be forced to work when the Public cannot enable them to eat," the board wrote, laying the problem before Congress.63

Its solution was to consolidate all the Artillery Artificers in Pennsylvania at Carlisle, retaining only an issuing store and a laboratory for fixing ammunition at Philadelphia. Congress late in 1780 also directed Washington to detach a field officer of the Artillery to superintend the business at Carlisle under the Board of War's orders; ordered the Commissary General of Purchases to form a sufficient magazine of provisions at Carlisle to support the post; and requested the Treasury Board to take measures to furnish sufficient money to supply the Department of the Commissary General of Military Stores on the basis of an estimate approved by the Board of War.64 The detachment of Artillery Artificers stationed at Philadelphia marched to Carlisle before the end of the year, but the board expressed doubt as to whether a sufficient stock of provisions, especially meat, had been accumulated

61. RG 11, CC Papers, reel 158, 3:365-71 (Bd of War to Pres of Cong, 1 May 79).
62. JCC, 17:724-25 (12 Aug 80).
63. RG 11, CC Papers, reel 159, 4:617-20 (19 Oct 80).
64. JCC, 18:1093 (25 Nov 80).


there. The Board of War early in January 1781 was still trying to get money to permit the department to prepare, for that year's campaign 65

The lack of funds continued to make it difficult for the Board of War to maintain operations in the Department of the Commissary General of Military Stores. Frequently the board had no money to prepare supplies, to pay for the work done by hired employees, or to meet the salaries of the Artillery Artificers and the officers in the department. At the same time, Colonel Flower's continuing ill health had prevented him from making a personal inspection of the various activities carried on in his department. As a result, immediate remedial measures were needed. Early in February 1780 the Board of War urged appointment of a deputy commissary general of military stores as a solution. It selected Samuel Hodgdon, then serving as the Commissary of Military Stores with the main Continental army, Since Congress had set a now wholly inadequate remuneration for a deputy, the board proposed that the pay be increased to 1,250 dollars per month. It was convinced that Hodgdon's appointment would lessen expense in the department by restoring order and economy and would even permit the discharge of some employees. Congress approved the appointment and granted the proposed pay until further orders.66

Economy Measures

In the economy wave that affected all staff departments in 1780, Congress, on 26 July, directed the Board of War to remove unnecessary officers from every post in the Department of the Commissary General of Military Stores. It further directed the board to reorganize the department.67 In response, the Board of War brought in a report which Congress approved on 12 August. As reorganized, the department retained a Commissary General of Military Stores, one deputy commissary general, and a commissary of military stores at Springfield, at Carlisle, and in Virginia, together with two or three other commissaries or deputy commissaries at subordinate posts. Because of the depreciation of the currency, the board proposed to increase the pay of the Commissary General of Military Stores as well as that of personnel serving in his department. The pay of the deputy commissary general under this revised pay schedule became less than that of the Commissary of Military Stores, with the main Continental army. Deputy Hodgdon's protest led Congress to make his pay equal to that of the field Commissary of Military Stores, and at the same time it slightly increased the remuneration of the

65. Ibid., 19:14-15 (2 Jan 81).
66. (1) Ibid., 16:142-43, 153 (9 and I I Feb 80). (2) RG 11, CC Papers, item 148, 1:59-62 (Bd of War to Pres of Cong, 8 Feb 80).
67. JCC, 17:672.


Commissary General of Military Stores.68 In accordance with its orders, the board dismissed a number of officers in the department. It felt that it had ample authority to remove those who served under its warrant. However, the board requested and obtained congressional action to dismiss those officers who held commissions signed by the President of Congress.69

In addition to eliminating unnecessary personnel, the Board of War acted also to liquidate unnecessary posts. It began moving in that direction in the summer of 1780 when it issued orders to close the post at Lancaster. It directed George Ingells, commissary of military stores, to send all the powder in casks under his charge to Samuel Sargent, commissary of military stores at Carlisle, and to forward all other remaining stores to Philadelphia.70 No doubt anticipating events, Nathaniel Barber, commissary at Boston, submitted his resignation early in 1781. As a result, the post at Boston was discontinued, and the Board of War ordered all stores on hand and arriving in the future to be sent to Springfield.71 It also attempted to discontinue the post at Fishkill. Protests by the Commander in Chief and General Knox caused the board to revoke its order, but the Fishkill post was eliminated the following year.72

Following the death of Colonel Flower on 1 May 178 1, Congress appointed Samuel Hodgdon as Commissary General of Military Stores.73 Within little more than a year, it repealed all previous resolutions regarding his department and empowered the Secretary at War to appoint a Commissary of Military Stores, subject to his orders and instructions, who was to receive a salary of 1,000 dollars per annum.74 Secretary Lincoln retained Hodgdon as Commissary of Military Stores, but, as the latter expressed it, Congress had "totally overthrown the fabric of years, leaving scarcely a trace behind" of the former Department of the Commissary General of Military Stores. The deputy commissary of military stores at Carlisle, Samuel Sargent, was now dismissed, and the stores remaining there were placed in the charge of a captain of the Artillery, who received no additional pay for this service.75 Before the end of 1782 Hodgdon also accepted appointment as an assistant quartermaster in Philadelphia under Pickering while continuing to perform the duties of Commissary of Military Stores to eke out an adequate salary. Since the greater part of the military stores of the United States was deposited

68. (1) Ibid,, 17:723-25(12 Aug 80); 19:49-5](12 Jan 81); 19:100(31 Jan 81).(2)RG 11, CC Papers, reel 50, item 41, 4:157-60 (Hodgdon memorial, undated).
69. JCC, 17:793 (30 Aug 80).
70. RG 93, Hodgdon Letters, 110:21 (6 May 80).
71. (1) Ibid., 92:45 (to Barber, 12 Mar 81). (2) JCC, 19:232 (5 Mar 81).
72. Ibid., 22:415 (24 Jul 82).
73. (1) RG 11, CC Papers, item 148, 1:365 (Bd of War to Pres of Cong, 1 May 81). (2) JCC, 20:746 (12 Jul 81).
74. Ibid., 22:415 (24 Jul 82).
75. RG 93, Hodgdon Letters, 92:243-44 (to Sargent, 16 Aug 82).


at Philadelphia when the war ended, Congress retained Hodgdon in service, first as a commissary and then for some years as Superintendent of Military Stores.76

76. (1) RG 93, Pickering Letters, 86:16 (to Hodgdon, 22 Dec 82). (2) JCC, 25:804-05 (4 Nov 83).

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