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Thomas Jefferson to Gen Edward Stevens

Richmond, August 4, 1780.


Your several favors of July the 16th, 21st, and 22nd, are now before me. Our smiths are engaged in making five hundred axes and some tomahawks for General Gates. About one hundred of these will go by the wagons now taking in their loads. As these are for the army in general, no doubt but you will participate of them. A chest of medicine was made up for you in Williamsburg, and by a strange kind of forgetfulness, the vessel ordered to bring that, left it and brought the rest of the shop. It is sent for again, and I am not without hopes will be here in time to go by the present wagons. They will carry some ammunition and the axes, and will make up their load with spirits. Tents, I fear, cannot be got in this country; we have, however, sent out powers to all the trading towns here, to take it wherever they can find it. I write to General Gates, to try whether the duck in North Carolina cannot be procured by the Executive of that State on Continental account; for, surely, the whole army, as well our militia as the rest, is Continental. The arms you have to spare may be delivered to General Gates’s order, taking and furnishing us with proper vouchers. We shall endeavor to send our drafts armed. I cannot conceive how the arms before sent could have got into so very bad order; they certainly went from hence in good condition. You wish to know how far the property of this State in your hands is meant to be subject to the orders of the commander in chief. Arms and military stores we mean to be perfectly subject to him. The provisions going from this country will be for the whole army. If we can get any tents, they must be appropriated to the use of our own troops. Medicine, sick stores, spirits, and such things, we expect shall be on the same footing as with the northern army. There, you know, each State furnishes its own troops with these articles, and, of course, has an exclusive right to what is furnished. The money put into your hands, was meant as a particular resource for any extra wants of our own troops, yet in case of great distress, you would probably not see the others suffer without communicating part of it for their use. We debit Congress with this whole sum. There can be nothing but what is right in your paying Major Mazaret’s troops out of it. I wish the plan you have adopted for securing a return of the arms from the militia, may answer. I apprehend any man, who has a good gun on his shoulder, would agree to keep it, and have the worth of it deducted out of his pay, more especially when the receipt of the pay is at some distance. What would you think of notifying to them, further, that a proper certificate that they are discharged, and have returned their arms, will be required before any pay is issued to them. A roll, kept and forwarded, of those so discharged, and who have delivered up their arms, would supply accidental losses of their certificates. We are endeavoring to get bayonet belts made. The State quarter-master affirms the cartouch boxes sent from this place, (nine hundred and fifty-nine in number,) were all in good condition. I therefore suppose the three hundred you received in such very bad order, must have gone from the continental quarter-master at Petersburg, or, perhaps, have been pillaged, on the road, of their flaps, to mend shoes, &c. I must still press the return of as many wagons as possible. All you will send, shall be loaded with spirits or something else for the army. By their next return, we shall have a good deal of bacon collected. The enclosed is a copy of what was reported to me, as heretofore sent by the wagons.

I am. Sir, with the greatest esteem,
your most obedient, humble servant,
Th: Jefferson.