The British Army’s Transportation Problems


    About the author

    Edward St. Germain.
    Edward St. Germain

    Edward A. St. Germain created in 1996. He was an avid historian with a keen interest in the Revolutionary War and American culture and society in the 18th century. On this website, he created and collated a huge collection of articles, images, and other media pertaining to the American Revolution. Edward was also a Vietnam veteran, and his investigative skills led to a career as a private detective in later life.


      Editor’s note
      The following is a chapter from a book “The Organization of the British Army in the American Revolution” by Edward E. Curtis, Ph.D. It discusses some of the transportation and logistics problems the British Army faced during the war, and how these contributed to their eventual loss.


      The subject of army transport is conveniently divisible into two parts-first, transport between Great Britain and America, that is, ocean transport; second, transport between points in America, that is, land transport. Under the first topic, we should expect to find an answer to the question as to how men and matériel were brought over to America from the mother country; under the second, as to how they were conveyed from one place to another in the theatre of operations.

      1. Ocean Transport

      At the outbreak of the war (1775), the direct responsibility for ocean transport was divided among three boards – the Ordnance, Navy, and Treasury boards. Roughly speaking, the first was responsible for the transport of artillery, engineers, guns, and ordnance stores;1 the second (subject to the orders of the Admiralty board) for that of infantry, cavalry, clothing, hospital stores, tents, and camp equipage; the third for that of provisions. In 1779 the system was slightly altered. Until that year the Treasury employed, as agents for hiring provision transports, the firm of Mure, Son, & Atkinson. That is, for a certain commission these contractors agreed to provide such tonnage as the board should require.2 The arrangement, however, was found to be expensive, and in November, 1777, the Treasury proposed that the Navy board should undertake the work. It declined. In January or February, 1779, the offer was renewed. This time the Navy board, with the approbation of the Admiralty board, consented. The Navy commissioners were to be subject to the directions of the Treasury board in matters relating to provision transport; and, as a compensation for the additional labor involved, the Treasury board agreed to an increase in their salaries.3 Thus, from 1779 onwards, they were responsible for the transportation not only of cavalry, infantry, clothing, etc., but also of provisions. This change was strongly opposed by Germain, and was the cause of much friction between him on the one hand and the Treasury and Navy boards on the other.4

      The division of labor among the three boards was not rigidly maintained. Thus, an Ordnance transport might bear clothing, a Navy transport artillery, and a Treasury transport troops. In fact, it was usual to convey troops to America on provision and clothing ships, both as a matter of economy and convenience and to increase the fighting strength in case of attack. On her trip back to England, a ship would often bring wounded men and recruiting parties. Officers of high rank and specie for the army paymasters were usually transported by men-of-war.5 It should be added that the business of stocking the transports with food for crew and passengers fell to the victualling commissioners.

      As subordinates to the foregoing boards there were a number of minor officials concerning whom we unfortunately have scant knowledge, yet who nevertheless deserve mention. Thus, the Ordnance board had in its employ a Captain John Dickinson as superintendent of the Ordnance transports. He was a capable and zealous officer. His duty consisted in procuring adequate ships and crews for the conveyance of ordnance stores.6 Major George Carleton is mentioned as agent for embarkations (of troops) at Cork in 1776.7 His functions are not entirely clear. In 1777-1778 Colonel Maunsell seems to have acted in a similar (if not in the same) capacity. He was stationed at Charles Fort, about twelve miles from Cork, where recruits bound for America were brought. He saw that they were properly quartered until the time for embarkation, provided them with clothing, and assigned them to the respective transports. His letters testify to his zeal and ability.8 We have seen that in February, 1776, the Treasury board appointed Robert Gordon Commissary of Provisions at Cork. His chief duty was “to inspect and survey all Provisions that the Contractors for supplying his Majesty’s Troops in America…shall from time to time put on board any Vessels appointed to carry the same to America; and…after having examined such Provisions…to sign Certificates of the Quantities thereof, and of the Provisions so shipped being good, wholesome, proper, and fitting for the Use of His Majesty’s Troops agreeably to the Contracts…”9 In the following year Joseph Graham was made his subordinate as superintendent of shipping. He was instructed “to superintend, inspect, and examine the arming, fitting, and lading of Victuallers at Cork.”10 When the Navy board took charge of provision transport in 1779, it replaced Gordon by John Marsh with the title of agent victualler and Graham by Lieutenant Harris with the title of agent of transports.11

      While a few transports were owned or bought by the government, the majority were hired. Most of them were naturally English-built, though a few may have been of Dutch or German construction.12 The offer of a vessel of French build was received with characteristic British scorn: “A French ship is not fit for His Majesty’s service.”13 In size the transports ranged from one hundred to eight hundred tons, the tents and camp equipage of a single regiment requiring from twelve to eighteen tons.14 Many of them were old and unseaworthy – the refuse of the trading fleet.15 Manned by ordinary merchant crews, they made the voyage from England to America in six or eight weeks. With the exception of the victuallers, they generally went armed and under convoy, in fleets of from two to twelve sail or even more. Prior to 1779, the victuallers usually sailed armed and without convoy. After that date, however, when the Navy board took charge of them, the reverse was true: they proceeded unarmed but under convoy.16 Although the transports were apparently ordered to carry six guns, some of them carried more, the pieces ranging from six- to twelve-pounders and many of them being swivels.17 Each fleet was under general charge of a lieutenant of the navy, known as the agent, or superintendent, of transports, and subject in American waters to the orders of the commander-in-chief.18 One of these officers, Lieutenant Bourmaster, won high encomiums from Gage and Howe for his zeal at Boston in 1775.19 Usually a petty naval officer (often a midshipman) was assigned to each troop ship to superintend the navigation, to explain to the captain the signals made by the convoy, to direct affairs in case of separation, and in event of attack to assist in conducting the defence.20

      The picture suggested by the records of life aboard the transports is not a pretty one. Conditions were often fatal both to man and beast. The situation was truthfully, if rhetorically, summed up by an officer of the Guards, who was going with a detachment to join Howe at. New York, when he wrote: “There was continued destruction in the foretops, the pox above-board, the plague between decks, hell in the forecastle, the devil at the helm.”21 Scores of soldiers, if they did not die of scurvy or other diseases, at least landed in a sickly and much weakened state. Captain Jacobs, in charge of some transports bringing German mercenaries to Quebec in September, 1776, reported that no less than twenty-eight had died, mainly of scurvy.22 Clinton, announcing the arrival of a contingent of recruits at New York in September, 1779, lamented that “many of the Troops are very Sickly, owing to the extreme Length of the Voyage.”23 Out of twenty-four hundred Germans coming to that port in August, 1781, he recorded that four hundred and ten were sick on landing, while sixty-six had perished from scurvy.24 On one occasion the transport Lyon, homeward bound with British wounded, struck foul weather. An officer aboard wrote that “the Invalids growing very sickly, Ten of them died on the passage, and I do imagine some of them would have shared the same fate, had we not been so lucky as to get in here [Scilly Islands].”25

      The same unhappy fate that befell men aboard the transports also befell horses: many of these poor beasts perished. Quartermaster Kemble of Howe’s army notes in his Journal on one occasion that “Horses to compleat the 17th Light Dragoons and a number for the General Service were embarked [in England]…but the length of their passage makes it very much to be apprehended that most of them have Perished.”26 In transporting his army from New York to Philadelphia in June-July, 1777, Howe lost many of the mounts belonging to his dragoons. For a voyage that lasted forty days, only three weeks’ forage had been shipped. Many of the unfortunate beasts were thrown overboard as a humane alternative to allowing them to perish of hunger and thirst. This had a serious bearing upon subsequent operations. Had Howe possessed a well-mounted corps of light cavalry at Brandywine (11 September, 1777), Sullivan’s division would doubtless have been cut to pieces and the battle converted from a defeat into a disaster for the Americans.27 Clinton affirmed that in his expedition to South Carolina in 1779-1780, he lost every horse in the passage from New York to Charleston for want of proper transports.28 Benedict Arnold (in the British service), referring to the voyage of his troops from New York to Virginia in January, 1781, stated that about one-half of the cavalry horses were lost.29

      Numerous other difficulties attended the transport service. Ships containing much-needed food were often delayed for weeks by fogs, contrary winds, and foul weather.30 Victuallers bound from Cork to New York were sometimes blown off their course as far south as the West Indies.31 The failure of the Cape Fear expedition in the spring of 1776 must be ascribed largely to the fact that the armament intended for it was delayed at Cork by bad weather.32 Many ships were lost through storms or capture.33 The presence of the combined French and Spanish fleets in the Channel in the summer of 1779 seriously threatened communications with America, and delayed the departure of the victuallers. For a time it was thought that, instead of sailing due west from Cork to New York, they would have to be sent up St. George’s Channel and around the north coast of Ireland.34 The replacing of provisions condemned by the inspectors at Cork was a fruitful source of delays, since it was sometimes necessary to send afar to make good the deficiency.35 Labor troubles also played their part in retarding shipments. In October, 1776, the hands engaged to load and man the victuallers at Cork entered into combination and struck for higher wages. Disorder and rioting ensued with the result that the ships were detained long after the date originally fixed for their departure.36 Even under normal conditions, seamen were frequently scarce.37 In March, 1778, John Dickinson, in charge of the Ordnance shipping, reported that he was having much trouble in manning the store-ship Brilliant at London.38 Navy press gangs had frightened all the seamen into the country, and he had been compelled to send as far away as Scarborough, Ipswich, and Yarmouth for men. In January, 1779, Clinton was informed that a fleet of transports had been tied up at Cork for a month “from the unfortunate Circumstances of the Want of Seamen.” In order to attract sailors to the victuallers, it was necessary to hold out the lure of prize money and masters of these craft were granted letters of marque. This proved to be an expedient of doubtful value, however, since the ships sometimes departed from their courses in search of prizes and thus delayed the arrival in America of provisions much needed by the army.39

      Throughout the war, moreover, there was an unfortunate scarcity, of available tonnage.40 Merchants were reluctant to lease ships to the government. The reasons were explained at length in a letter addressed to Howe by Mure, Son, & Atkinson during the siege of Boston.41 It will be recalled that the firm was employed by the Treasury board from 1775-1779 as agents for the hiring of transports. The writers declared that merchants engaged in an established course of European trade found an insurmountable objection to leasing vessels to the government in the fact that their ships after delivering an outward bound cargo to the army could find no further employment. Loyal American merchants did not dare to enter the service for fear that the rebels in revenge would commit depredations upon their property at home. There remained no other class of shipping except that employed in the West Indies trade. Here, too, the merchants were averse “because of the great Expense their ships sail at and the too frequent instances of detention [by the army], whereby the main object of their Voyage, the loading home in due time from the West Indies, has been frustrated, a disappointment for which the payment of demurrage is no Compensation.” However, by setting a good example in the transfer of four of its own West India vessels to the government service, the firm had finally induced others to engage at very reasonable rates. This was effected, however, only when the most positive assurances had been given that the cargoes would be promptly taken over by the army and that the vessels would not be detained an hour afterwards.

      The words cited above were written in 1775. In 1776 every harbor in England was searched for available ships and recourse was had even to the ports of Holland and later to those of Germany. “The Extensions of the different Transport Services,” wrote the Treasury to Howe, “and the immense Quantity of Tonnage employed and wanted, have drained this Country of Ships so that without raising the price much higher or distressing the Commerce of the Kingdoms, Transports are not to be had…The Distress for Want of Transports is so great that it would be of the utmost Benefit…if it should be possible for you…to spare some of your largest Ships and return them home to be employed as Victuallers.”42 Nothing proves the scarcity of tonnage so eloquently as the rise in freight rates. In 1775 the government had paid 10s. per ton on the tonnage of the vessel. In June, 1776, the Treasury informed Howe: “This Country is so exhausted of Ships which can be spared from the Commerce and Trade otherways essential to be carried on, that it is with the utmost difficulty a sufficiency of Tonnage can be got, and we have been obliged to raise the price to 12:6 per Ton.”43 By 1779 the rate had jumped to 14s.44

      Undoubtedly the pressing demand for shipping might have been relieved to a considerable extent had the commanders in America seen fit to unload promptly and send back the transports. This they failed to do despite repeated remonstrances on the part of the home authorities.45 “I must remark,” Germain writes to Clinton on one occasion, “the very great difficulty we labor under for want of Transports, occasioned, in great measure, by so many of them being detained in North America…I must entreat you to encourage the returning as many Transports as possible to this Country, that we may be enabled with greater facility to reinforce you with Troops, and supply you more regularly with Provisions.”46 Hasten the return of the transports came to be the burden of the letters directed by the departments to the commanders in America.47

      The transport service was crippled by other forms of mismanagement. If contractors were tardy in filling orders,48 masters of transports were guilty of stowing the cargoes carelessly and thereby using up a great deal more than the necessary tonnage.49 That victuallers failed to bring a lading suitable to their tonnage thus became an oft-repeated complaint. At the risk of the army’s success and contrary to regulations, the masters sometimes tried to carry goods for trading in America on their own account. Thus, it was reported that the “Masters of the Transports, which carried the 17th Regiment of Light Dragoons to Boston last Year [1775], had filled part of the lower Tier of their Casks with Porter, on their own private Account, which might have been the Cause of the Loss of the Horses had they been longer at Sea.”50 Small wonder that army officers were accustomed to refer to transport masters as “doubtful characters.”51

      Added to such practices were an inertia and want of comity and coöperation among the several departments concerned with the transport service, which were fatal to efficiency. Many pages of records are filled with the mutual recrimination of departmental officers. In particular there was constant bickering between the Admiralty and the Treasury and between the Treasury and the secretary of state for the colonies – the latter trouble originating perhaps in the ill-feeling that existed between North and Germain. The Admiralty showed itself far from zealous in providing convoys promptly,52 and repeatedly allowed its press gangs to rob army transports of their crews.53 This resulted in numerous delays and became the subject of much warm correspondence between the Treasury and Admiralty boards. On one occasion the former protested that unless the practice were stopped, it would be utterly impossible to victual the army.54 Despite such remonstrances, however, navy press gangs continued to retard the service in this manner. Nor were such disputes and differences confined solely to the upper strata of officialdom. In the lower as well they were unfortunately evident.

      Such being the circumstances under which the ocean transport service was conducted, is it any wonder that the army was often lamentably wanting in men, food, and equipment? That some of the obstacles were beyond the power of man to prevent must be admitted; but that others might have been obviated must also be admitted. Whether the British army would have triumphed even with an efficient transport service is debatable; but certainly some of the disasters that it encountered would have been lessened or avoided, had there been good management and hearty coöperation among the departments at home.

      2. Land Transport55

      The responsibility for land transport in America, rested ultimately with the commander-in-chief. Howe testified that he “settled what number of Waggons, Horses, and Drivers should be employed for a Campaign, and the Distribution of them among the several Regiments, Corps, and Departments. He settled the Price of the Hire of the Waggons, Horses, and Drivers, and the Tonnage of the small Craft employed.”56 The actual procuring of the horses, drivers, and wagons, however, fell mainly to the quartermaster general, although the commissary general, the barrack master general, and the chief engineer sometimes hired means of transportation on their own account.57

      During the course of the war a number of transport officers were appointed. In June, 1776, Francis Rush Clarke, Gent., was appointed inspector and superintendent of the provisions train of horses and wagons attending Howe’s army. He was subject not only to the orders of the commander-in-chief in America but to those of the Treasury as well.58 The train under his charge consisted of a few horses and wagons sent from England. During Howe’s operations in the Middle Colonies (1777-1778), the quartermaster general became so overburdened with the business of providing wheeled transport that it was found necessary to detail someone to take charge of the river craft. Accordingly, a naval officer, Captain David Laird, was appointed (1 January, 1777) superintendent of vessels. He was authorized “to charter or hire vessels for inland Navigation, to see that they were properly manned and equipped, and justly rated as to their Tonnage.”59 Three similar officials existed in Clinton’s army at New York towards the close of the war – an agent to the army small craft, an inspector of small craft, and a comptroller of transports.60 In July, 1782, Major Robert Molleson received an appointment under the sign manual as waggon master general to the army in America. He was the first officer of the kind to be appointed. He assisted the commissary general of Clinton’s army in the transport service, and had charge of the military wagon yard at New York.61 Attached to Burgoyne’s forces in 1777 were a commissary of the waggons or waggon master general and a commissary of horse. The duty of the former was to buy or hire ox-teams wherever they could be found; of the latter, to take charge of the horses and drivers furnished by contract for the purpose of “transporting provisions and stores brought to Fort George for the use of the army.”62

      For land transport the ordinary conveyances were carts, wagons, and trucks of various sizes and kinds. In Canada and New York sleighs and sledges were extensively used during the winter.63 Of the wheeled vehicles, some were brought over from England. In the spring of 1776, three hundred four-horse wagons were sent to the forces under Howe and Carleton. These were built under the directions of the Ordnance board by a Mr. Fitzherbert at a contract price of £31:11:6 apiece.64 The majority of the wagons, however, were procured in America through capture, purchase, or hire.65 A few were built at the army wagon yard in New York.66 Of the total number of vehicles employed by the army, it is safe to state that about two-thirds were hired in America by the month or day.67 Hiring was judged by Howe and other commanders to be a more efficient and economical method of obtaining carriages than purchasing. In the first place, the vehicles could be discharged when no longer needed. In the second place, the owners were concerned to keep them in good condition whereas the loss of a vehicle owned by the government concerned nobody in particular. Lastly, there was less opportunity for fraud and imposition.68

      The hire by the day of a small wagon with one driver and two horses varied from 6s. 9d. to 7s. 6d.; of a large wagon with one driver and four horses, from 11s. 9d. to 12s.; of a single horse, from 1s. 6d. to 1s. 9d.69

      There were vehicles for every purpose. A number of ammunition carts or caissons – sometimes small enough to be drawn by men – usually accompanied the artillery; forge carts “compleat with anvils and bellows” for horseshoeing attended the cavalry; and wagons for carrying bread and baggage were attached to each regiment of horse and foot.70 Mention is also made in the records of pontoon and hospital wagons and bat-horses for carrying medicine chests.71 Officers were usually allowed a certain number of bat-horses varying with their rank.72 Clinton stated that in his march across New Jersey in 1777, the bat-horses and train of provision and baggage carriages following the army extended for about twelve miles.73

      Of the horses used by the army some were brought over from England; while others were obtained through hire, purchase, or capture in the colonies.74 In January, 1776, no less than one thousand draught and bat-horses were sent over by the Treasury for the troops under Howe and Carleton.75 On the other hand, in July, 1782, the commissary general of Clinton’s forces purchased some nine hundred horses in America.76 Viscount Townshend, the master general of the ordnance, at one time strongly advocated the use of mules, pointing out that they were “Cheaper, less liable to expence and Damage by Transport, more hardy and durable” than horses.77 Nothing seems to have resulted from the suggestion.

      Burgoyne in his invasion of New York collected fifty team of oxen from the countryside and used them in the transport service.78

      The drivers employed in the transport service were hired civilians. While many, if not most, of them were engaged in America, some were hired in England. We have seen that in 1776 the Ordnance department contracted with a Mr. Fitzherbert for a number of wagons for the army in America. He also agreed to supply the drivers. They were to be paid at the rate of 1s. 6d. per diem with off-reckonings for clothing and were to enjoy the same provisions as the king’s troops.79 Drivers hired in America were paid between 7d. and 1s. 9d. a day and a ration of provisions; sleigh-men, 1s. 6d. a day and a ration.80 In the West Indies, negro slaves were purchased by the army to assist in transporting foodstuffs.81

      Between December, 1776, and March, 1780, the average number of wagons constantly employed by the forces under Howe and Clinton was seven hundred and thirty-nine; the average number of horses, one thousand nine hundred and fifty-eight; the average number of drivers, seven hundred and sixty.82

      In solving the problem of transport, the rivers, estuaries, and lakes of the Atlantic seaboard were a most important factor. In the absence of good roads, abundant use was made of them for the transport of both men and matériel. The, generals were urged to make good the deficiency in horses and wagons by the use of water transport.83 The waterways of which the British made most use were Lakes George and Champlain, the Hudson, the Delaware, the Richelieu or Sorel, and the St. Lawrence rivers. While the Hudson and Lakes George and Champlain provided a route across the Northern colonies, the St. Lawrence formed a vast highway through Canada and with the Great Lakes made it possible to man and provision the posts in the back country with comparative ease.84 Nor were the coastal waters neglected. Men and supplies were constantly shipped up and down the coast in preference to overland transfer.85 In the South alone complaint was made that the natural facilities for water transport were inadequate. Cornwallis, during his march across the Carolinas in 1781, lamented that while the rivers of Virginia made that province easy of invasion, the total want of interior navigation for more than very small craft rendered the Carolinas difficult to subdue. In invading North Carolina he had hoped to utilize Cape Fear River as a line of communication with the coast, but it was found to be impracticable, owing to the narrowness of the stream and the height of the banks. It was partly for this reason that he retired to Wilmington after the battle of Guilford Court House.86 Cornwallis and his subordinates, however, seem to have made considerable use of the Santee and Pedee rivers in South Carolina as lines of transport, most of the provisions and stores for the important post at Camden being brought up the former.87

      For water transport crafts of various kinds were employed – the flatboat, batteau, and sloop being mentioned most frequently.88 As in the case of wheeled vehicles, some of these were brought over from England; others (doubtless the majority) were obtained in the colonies through purchase, hire, or capture. The garrison at New York possessed a boat yard where some seem to have been built;89 and Arnold had a score or more built at Portsmouth during his operations in Virginia in 1781.90 The hire of a vessel under thirty tons was 3 1/2d. a day per ton; of a vessel of thirty tons and upwards 4d. a day per ton until May, 1777, when it was raised to 5 1/5d. a day per ton. Between 1777-1780 the number of vessels employed at different times in the department of the quartermaster general was three hundred and seventeen, and the number of tons 19,558; in the department of the barrack master general, the number of vessels was eighty-five and the number of tons 7,836; in the department of the commissary general, the number of vessels was two hundred and nine and the number of tons 16,622.91

      During his campaign in New York in 1776, Howe made frequent use of flatboats, with which he had been supplied from England, in transporting troops on the North and East rivers.92 Most elaborate preparations with regard to water transport were made for the operations along the Canadian frontier in the same year. The frames of six sloops and eight hundred batteaux were provided by the Admiralty and sent over to General Carleton. The sloops were of about ninety tons each and the batteaux measured from thirty-six to forty feet in length and six to seven feet in width.93 On being put together many of these craft were dragged up the Richelieu with prodigious labor, and were used for conveying the expedition up Lake Champlain.94 Similar preparations were made for Burgoyne’s campaign in 1777. Like Carleton he relied upon boats for the transportation of his army up the lakes and down the Hudson. Some two hundred batteaux were actually dragged across from Lake George to the Hudson.95 For moving them over the portage, a “large machine” of some sort (the records fail to describe it) had been especially constructed by the Ordnance department at the instance of Captain Blomefield of the Artillery, who was familiar with conditions in America,96 but apparently it did not prove practical, for most, if not all, of the boats were conveyed across the watershed in wagons. In this process many of them were shaken and damaged and had to be recaulked, “a matter of no trivial concern or easy execution,” which was confided to several “very expert naval officers” accompanying the troops.97 St. Leger’s expedition up the Oswego River and Lake Oneida and down the Mohawk Valley was also accompanied by boats probably carrying provisions and supplies;98 and Clinton, in advancing northward from New York with a view to joining Burgoyne and St. Leger, transported his forces up the Hudson by boat.99 Meantime, Howe was using flatboats and galleys for the transport of men and provisions on the Delaware in the neighborhood of Philadelphia.100

      It must not be thought that the boatmen employed in the transport service were officially enrolled in the army. On a few occasions (as in the case of Carleton’s operations on the lakes in 1776), the army boats were manned by seamen from the navy and the ocean transports.101 As a rule, however, civilian inhabitants were hired for the work. Their wages were 2s. 4d. each a day with a soldier’s ration and one-sixth of a quart of rum.102 In Canada, where scores of batteau-men were hired, the following arrangement was made: Each batteau was worked by four men. They were allowed two pounds of bread, ten ounces of pork, and a certain quantity of peas, each, per diem. The “head and stem men” were paid at the rate of 2s. per diem, the “middlemen” at the rate of 1s. 6d., Halifax currency.103 The reputation acquired by the Canadian batteau-men was not enviable. Their thieving propensities were a constant subject of complaint on the part of the commissariat department. Commissary General Day declared that they were “totally unacquainted with business except such part as appertains to fleecing the State, to which they have a great propensity.”104

      That both land and water transport services were often inadequate and the army consequently hampered in its movements, there is considerable evidence. The absence of sufficient means of transport prevented Howe from invading Massachusetts with Boston as a base in 1775-1776.105 When he was finally obliged to evacuate the town, his departure was delayed in part by deficiency of tonnage.106 Clinton gave as one of the reasons for abandoning the Cape Fear expedition (May, 1776) the want of horses and water carriage.107 Prior to his New York campaign of 1776, Howe presented to Germain an estimate of the horses and wagons required. His demands were refused, and he was bidden to rely as much as possible upon water transport. Thus, according to his own calculations, his army entered upon the campaign only partly equipped.108 A small provision train was sent out later but the wagons proved “to be totally unfit for the Country, being too heavy and made of bad materials…”109 In 1777 Howe again requisitioned the government – this time for three hundred horses. The reply was that only one hundred could be sent owing to the expense and hazard of the transatlantic journey.110 Not unlike this were the troubles of Burgoyne. During the winter of 1776, no measures were taken in Canada to provide horses, carts, or forage for the proposed invasion of New York. Not until June, 1777, were contracts for these articles awarded. As a result the movement of the army was delayed for three weeks and every subsequent operation retarded; “for the carriages for the transport service being constructed in haste and of fresh unseasoned timber” were ill-adapted to the exigencies of the time and place and were almost all destroyed on the road to Fort Edward.111 “This circumstance detained the army so long at Fort Edward that it ultimately occasioned the unfortunate, ill-conducted expedition to Bennington.”112 As late as 20 August, after he had reached Saratoga, Burgoyne reported that only one-third of his horses had arrived. Oxen were collected from the countryside, but they were found inadequate to the business of provisioning the army and forming the necessary magazines.113 Burgoyne also experienced difficulty in obtaining a sufficient number of drivers; and of those finally engaged, many proved unreliable, deserting him towards the close of the campaign.114 Similar difficulties beset Augustine Prevost during his operations in the Southern provinces in 1779. In his march from East Florida to Savannah in January of that year, owing to lack of horses, he was compelled to load his supplies on boats and send them along the creeks and waters of the province while leading his army overland. As a result his men were so hard pressed for food that they were driven to living almost wholly on oysters. Later, after his arrival at Savannah, he complained that he was hampered by lack of wagons.115 And thus the list of examples might be extended.116

      This state of affairs may be ascribed partly to the natural difficulty of conducting a war in America and partly to corruption and mismanagement.117 It was rumored at the time that the officers connected with the transport services, commissary generals, barrack master generals, and quartermaster generals, came home with more gold in their pockets than they had when they went out or than their slender salaries in America would warrant.118 They found it to their interest to own a great number of the vessels employed by the army. In placing them at the disposal of the government, they were obliged to contract with themselves. In other words, the same person employed by and acting for the public contracted on the part of the public with himself for the hire of his own property, and paid himself with the public money entrusted to his charge. “His Trust and Interest draw opposite ways,” declared a parliamentary commission appointed to investigate the matter. “His Trust obliges him to be frugal for the Public; to hire at the lowest Price; to take Care that what he hires is complete and fit for Service; to employ as few Vessels and Carriages and for as short a Time as possible: But his Interest leads him not to spare the Public Purse; to let to Government at the same fixed Price, all the Vessels, Carriages, and Horses, he can collect, by whatever means procured, or at however low a Price he may have purchased them; and whatever may be their Condition or Difference in Point of Goodness, to keep them continually in Pay, whether wanted, or employed, or not, and for as long a Time as he can contrive; and his last Advantage may be, the suffering them to be taken or destroyed by the Enemy, to entitle him to the Value from the Public. In such a Contest between Duty and Interest, it is not uncharitable to suppose the Public Interest will frequently be sacrificed to private Emolument.”119 It was computed that an officer who owned fifty large wagons and two hundred horses, as a few of them did, and who hired them to the government might net a yearly profit of over £9,000. Had the vehicles supplied by the quartermasters and commissaries proved serviceable, less objection might have been found. Many of them, however, were hardly fit for use. Cornwallis was finally obliged to issue an order (23 December, 1780) forbidding the quartermaster general from having any property in the wagons employed by his army. By such a measure alone could abuses be prevented.120 The conclusion seems to be that mismanagement and corruption were at work not only in the provisioning of the army but also in the transport service.


      1. For statistics relative to tonnage employed by the ordnance department, see appendix to this chapter.
      2. It would seem that the commission received by Mure, Son, & Atkinson up to August, 1777, was 2 1/2% on the sums expended in purchasing or hiring craft. In June, 1777, the Treasury took the fairness of this allowance into consideration. Mr. Atkinson attended the board by order on the 24th. He represented that 2 1/2%, was the common commission and constant allowance between merchant and merchant, but that being “sensible of their Ldps. favor to his house in employing it to transact the business of the Treasury,” he was ready in the future to “submit to and accept such allowance and Commission as their Ldps. shall think fit.” The board then proposed a commission of 1 1/2%; T. 29:46, Minutes, 24 June, 16 Aug. 1777; ibid., 64:105, Robinson to Haldimand, 30 July, 1779.
      3. For an account of this, see T. 29:46-48, passim; ibid., 64:200, passim.
      4. The cause of the trouble seems to have been in the fact that the Navy board sent the victuallers to America unarmed and under convoy, whereas the Treasury board had sent them armed and without convoy. Germain considered that by the former method the army was not supplied with provisions as regularly and promptly as by the latter. A warm controversy arose relative to this question. See T. 64:200, Germain to Treasury Board, 4 Aug. 1780; ibid., 64:201, Robinson to Stephens, 27 Mar. 1779; ibid., 29:49, p. 316.
      5. For example, the Admiralty was requested to receive Commissary General Wier on the H. M. S. Albion, when he went out to America in the spring of 1777. C.O. 5:126, William Knox to Philip Stephens, 3 Mar. 1777.
      6. C.O. 5:163-4, passim.
      7. W.C. 1:824, certificate dated Cork, 24 Feb. 1776, and signed by Robert Cunningham; T. 20:45, Minutes, 27 June, 1776.
      8. W.O. 1:992, passim; T. 1:519, Robinson to Gordon, 20 Mar. 1777. “The Col. resides at Charles Fort, about 12 miles from Corke where he has excellent Quarters and a Hospital and a Surgeon. When Invalids arrive, they can in general be conveyed to Charles Fort at a trifling expense either by land or water, where every Case will be taken care of. No troops can go to Corke without being embarked by me or without my knowledge. Wheneverthat has happened, I have always put the officer who had charge of ye Men, under ye Command of Col. Maunsell who has given them every assistance.” W.O. 1:825, Samuel Townshend, inspector general of recruiting, to William Smith, 4 Nov. 1778.
      9. T. 29:45, Minutes, 9 Feb. 1776.
      10. T. 1:519, Robinson to Gordon, 7 Feb. 1777.
      11. T. 29:48, Minutes, 7, 22, 27 July, 4 Nov., 21 Dec. 1779. This displacement in the officials at Cork was due partly to dissensions which arose between Gordon and Harris. When Harris was appointed transport agent by the Navy board, it was apparently intended to retain Gordon as inspector or commissary of provisions. The two officials, however, seem to have had somewhat conflicting duties, and one of them (Harris) being under the orders of the Navy board and the other (Gordon) being under those of the Treasury board, they were soon at loggerheads. The specific form that the dispute took was as to whether the victuallers should be loaded at Cove or Passage, Harris advocating the latter and Gordon the former. Writing to the Navy commissioners, 16 July, 1779, Harris declared that without their interposition it would be absolutely impossible for him to carry on the service. He complained that he had not sufficient weight with Gordon to get any requisitions complied with two days in succession, and that much of his time was wasted in attending the commissary’s office. “Nothing but positive Orders from the Treasury will have any effect, for those I receive from you have no weight with him.” The Navy board repeated this complaint to the Treasury commissioners, and the upshot of the matter was that Gordon was removed and John Marsh substituted, with the title of agent victualler, subject to the orders of the Navy board. T. 64:200, passim.
      12. Adm. Vict. Out-Letters, 27, to Philip Stephens, 21 Feb. 1776; W.O. 1:992, Maunsell to Barrington, 26 Aug. 1776.
      13. W.O. 1:824, passim; ibid., 55:371, “Account of Ordnance Transports 1775-1777”; ibid., 55:374, “Account of Ordnance Transports 1779”; ibid., 1:890, pp. 26, 32, 185, 191; ibid., 1:825, Robinson to Barrington, 16 Oct. 1778.
      14. Adm. Navy Bd. In-Letters, 280, from Walter Cope, etc., received 11 Mar. 1779. See note on back.
      15. Trevelyan, II, 99. Cf. Belcher, I, 255; Clinton-Cornwallis Controversy, I, 490, Cornwallis to Clinton, 26 May, 1781.
      16. T. 29:49, Minutes, 26 July, 1780; ibid., 64:200, Germain to Treasury, 4 Aug. 1780; T. 64:105, Robinson to Carleton, 8 Apr. 1779; ibid., 64:200. Navy Board to Treasury, 11 Feb. 1779.
      17. T. 64:106, Mure, Son, & Atkinson to Howe, 21 Oct. 1776; ibid., 64:106, Robinson to Howe, 24 June, 1776. Germain instructed the Ordnance board, 29 Aug. 1776, that their ships were to be “provided with at least 12 Carriage Guns, 9- and 6- pounders, and a Complement of Men equal in number to three to each Gun.” C.O. 5:163, Germain to Townshend.
      18. C.O. 5:163, passim; C.O. 5:102, Mure, Son, & Atkinson to masters of oat ships, 11 July, 1781; Adm. Navy Bd. 3526, “Allowance to Agent Victuallers to 31 Dec. 1779”; Adm. Navy Bd. In-Letters, 279-280, passim; Adm. 2:244-50, passim.
      19. C.O. 5:92, Gage to Dartmouth, 13 May, 1775; ibid., Howe to Dartmouth, 27 Nov. 1775.
      20. Adm. 2:244, Admiralty to Navy Board, 22 Apr. 1776; T. 29:45, Minutes, 3, 30 Apr. 1776.
      21. Quoted in Belcher, I, 255. Cf. Trevelyan, II, 100.
      22. C.O. 5:125, “Report of Capt. Jacobs,” Quebec, 24 Sept. 1776.
      23. C.O. 5:98, Clinton to Germain, 4 Sept. 1779.
      24. C.O. 5:103, Clinton to Germain, 20 Aug. 1781. See also W. 0. 1:12, “Return of Recruits,” New York, 27 June, 1781.
      25. W.O. 1:991. Capt. Herbert to Barrington, 14 Jan. 1776.
      26. Kemble Papers, I, 91 (3 Oct. 1776).
      27. Trevelyan, IV, 214; Belcher, II, 240.
      28. C.O. 5:100, Clinton to Germain, 14 Sept. 1780.
      29. C.O. 5:101, Arnold to Clinton, 21 Jan. 1781. See also W.O. 1:10, Howe to Barrington, 1 June, 1777.
      30. T. 64:106, Robinson to Howe, 12 Apr. 1776; C.O. 5: 101, Germain to Clinton, 7 Feb. 1781; ibid., 5:97, Clinton to Germain, 15 Dec. 1778; ibid., 5:93, Germain to Howe, 1 Feb. 1776.
      31. T. 64:106, Robinson to Howe, 2 May, 1776; C.O. 5:93, Captain Payne to Germain, 1 Mar. 1776.
      32. T. 64:201, Navy Board to Treasury, 12 Oct, 1780; C.O. 5:93, Germain to Clinton, 1 Feb., 3 Mar. 1776, Clinton to Germain, 3 May, 1776, Cornwallis to Germain, 16 May, 1776.
      33. T. 64:201, Robinson to Navy Board, 24 June, 1780; ibid., 64:200, Robinson to Navy Board, 24, 28 Aug. 1780; W.O. 1:273, Barrington to Carleton, 24 Mar. 1777; Stedman, I, 166, note. In the West Indies hurricanes often played havoc with the transports. In September, 1780, General Vaughan wrote from Barbadoes that a most violent hurricane had swept over the island, driving away the victualling, store, and hospital ships, “which I wholly despair of seeing any more.” W.O. 1:51, Vaughan to Jenkinson, 21 Sept. 1780.
      34. T. 64:200, Navy Board to Treasury, 24 Aug. 1780; ibid., 64:201, Robinson to Navy Board, 20 Aug. 1779, Navy Board to Treasury Board, 9 Nov. 1780, Anthony Bacon to Treasury Board, 16 Nov. 1780.
      35. T. 64:200, Marsh to Navy Board, 12 Feb. 1780, Cherry to Navy Board, 27 Mar. 1780.
      36. T. 64:106, Mure, Son, & Atkinson to Howe, 21 Oct. 1776; ibid., Robinson to Howe, 22 Oct. 1776, 14 Jan. 1777; ibid., 1:519, Robinson to Gordon, 23 Oct., 2 Dec. 1776, 7 Feb. 1777. It is a curious and interesting coincidence that contemporaneously with these disturbances, firms engaged in making clothing for the army in America were also being troubled by combinations among the employees. See W.O. 1:681, George Nixon to William Montgomery, 11 June, 1776; T. 64:102, Mure, Son, & Atkinson to Howe, 21 Oct. 1776.
      37. T. 64:201, Gordon to Robinson, 23 Aug. 1779.
      38. C.O. 5:164, Dickinson to Townshend, 22 Mar. 1778.
      39. T. 64:107, Robinson to Clinton, 19 Jan. 1779; Wier-Robinson Correspondence, Wier to Robinson, 25 Oct. 1777, Robinson to Wier, 6 Dec. 1777.
      40. T. 64:106, 25 Sept. 1775.
      41. T. 64:106, Mure, Son, & Atkinson to Howe, 21 Oct. 1776, Robinson to Howe, 12 Apr., 24 June, 1776; ibid., 64:200, Navy Board to Treasury Board, 18 Sept. 1780; ibid., 64:107, Treasury Board to Navy Board, 30 Mar. 1781; C.O. 5:93, Germain to Howe, 28 Mar. 1776; ibid., 5:98, Clinton to Prevost, 2 May, 1779.
      42. T. 64:106, Robinson to Howe, 12 April, 1776.
      43. T. 64:106, Robinson to Howe, 24 June, 1776. “All expedition,” writes Adjutant General Harvey to Lieutenant General Irwine, “is using to Transport. You know full well that Spurring will not always do with Shipping.” W.O. 3:5, 12 Aug. 1775.
      44. W.O. 55:371, Account of Ordnance Transports 1775-1777; ibid., 55:374, Account of Ordnance Transports 1779. For statistics relative to the expense of ocean transport, see appendix to this chapter.
      45. C.O. 5:96, Germain to Clinton, 15 Sept. 1778; ibid., 5: 101, Clinton to Germain, 27 Feb. 1781; T. 64:107, Robinson to Clinton, 31 Oct. 1778, 19 Jan. 1779, 23 May, 1781; ibid., 64:107, Rose to Clinton, 26 Sept., 31 Dec. 1782; ibid., 64:200, Navy ]Board to Treasury, 27 June, Sept. (date of month omitted) 1780.
      46. C.O. 5:100, Germain to Clinton, 13 Oct. 1780.
      47. The home authorities urgently desired to have the transports sent back as quickly as possible not merely because of the scarcity of shipping but as a measure of economy. As far as possible they wished to circumscribe the number of transports in government pay. The enormous expense of ocean transport service was constantly emphasized in the letters from the home departments to the generals. See, for example, C.O. 5:97, Germain to Clinton, 3 Mar. 1779; ibid., 5:93, Germain to Howe, 21 June, 1776; T. 64:107, Robinson to Clinton, 19 Jan. 1779.
      48. T. 64:201, Anthony Bacon to Treasury, 16 Nov. 1780, Robinson to Navy Board, 11 Nov. 1779; ibid., 64:200, Navy Board to Treasury, 14 Feb. 1780, Cherry to Navy Board, 14 Feb. 1780; ibid., 29:48, Minutes, 7 July, 1779; Adm. 3:81, Minutes, 1 Dec. 1775; Adm. Navy Bd. In- Letters, 280, from Anthony Richardson, 23 Dec. 1779.
      49. T. 1:519, Robinson to Gordon, 26 June, 1776; ibid., 61:118, Chamier to Robinson, 9 Nov. 1776; ibid., 64:106, Gordon to Robinson, 21 Jan. 1777.
      50. C.O. 5:254, John Pownall to George Jackson, 27 Jan. 1776.
      51. W.O. 60:16, passim. If the transport masters were sometimes wanting in honesty, the crews were sometimes wanting in courage. In 1776, 3,000 Highlanders were sent to reinforce General Howe. The transports bearing them were attacked by American privateers, and one-quarter of the force was captured. This was due to the fact that the crews refused to defend the ships, and went below. The clansmen made a gallant, but hopeless, fight. Trevelyan, II, 92, footnote.
      52. Adm. 3:82, Minutes, 3 May, 1777, and passim; T. 64:201, passim; ibid., 64:200, Navy Board to Treasury, 4 Aug. 1780; ibid., 29:48, Minutes, 27 July, 1779; ibid., 29:46, Minutes, 24 Jan. 1778; C.O. 5:100, Clinton to Germain, 31 Oct. 1780.
      53. T. 29:45-50, passim; C.O. 5:258, Robinson to [D’Oyley?]; W.O. 47:90, Minutes, 3 Sept., 9 Oct. 1777; ibid., 47:89, Minutes, 18 Apr. 1777. In March, 1778, Major Skene, who was busily engaged in embarking troops for America, reported to Barrington that everything was at a standstill, owing to the navy’s “pressing the Sailors of transports.” W.O. 1:999, 24 Mar. 1778.
      54. Adm. 1: 4288, Robinson to Admiralty, 6 Feb. 1779.
      55. For a very complete and informing analysis of the land transport service, see the “Seventh Report of Commissioners of Public Accounts” in 38 Commons Journal, pp. 1066-1111. Many interesting data are also to be found in “Minute Book of a Board of General Officers” (N. Y. Hist. Soc. Coll. 1916).
      56. Report on Army Extras, 1778.
      57. “Minute- Book of a Board of General Officers” (N. Y. Hist. Soc. Coll. 1916), pp. 74-75, 227-229. The train used by Howe in the campaigns of 1777 was organized on his orders by Sir William Erskine, the quartermaster general. Ibid., 75. See appendix to this chapter for the number of vessels and wagons employed by the quartermaster general in North America, 1776-1780.
      58. T. 64:106, Robinson to Howe, 20 June, 1776; “Minute Book of a Board of General Officers” (N. Y. Hist. Soc. Coll. 1916), p. 75.
      59. Report on Army Extras, 1778; 38 Commons Journal, pp. 1068, 1095-1096. Laird served as superintendent until Dec. 1780. Ibid., 1070.
      60. W.O. 60:12, 21, passim. In 1781 there were an agent for transports and agent for armed vessels on the pay roll at New York. “Minute Book of a Board of General Officers” (N. Y. Hist. Soc. Coll. 1916), pp. 60, 62.
      61. W.O. 25:37, p. 94; ibid., 60:12, passim. A waggon master general existed in England, but he seems to have had little to do directly with the forces in America, For complete text of Molleson’s commission, see the appendix to this chapter.
      62. Burgoyne, State of the Expedition, p. 56.
      63. T. 1:528, Day to Robinson, 12 June, 1777; ibid., 64:102, Day to Robinson, 15 May, 1777; London Gazette, 25 Apr. 1780; C.O. 5:100, Norton to Matthew, 6 Feb. 1780.
      64. T. 29:45, Minutes, 19 Jan., 27 Jan., 3 Apr. 1776; C.O. 5:250, Knox to Robinson, 14 Feb. 1776; W.O. 47:87, Minutes, 16 Feb. 1776.
      65. W.O. 47:89, Minutes, 28 Feb. 1777; W.O. 60:12, 21, passim; C.O. 5:98, Prevost to Clinton, 15 Mar. 1779; “Minute Book of a Board of General Officers” (N. Y. Hist. Soc. Coll. 1916), pp. 75-76.
      66. W.O. 60:12, 21, passim.
      67. 38 Commons Journal, p. 1068.
      68. 38 Commons Journal, pp. 1074-1075; “Minute Book of a Board of General Officers” (N. Y. Hist. Soc. Coll. 1916), p. 197; Burgoyne, State of the Expedition, App., p. Iiii.
      69. 38 Commons Journal, p. 1068; “Minute Book of a Board of General Officers” (N. Y. Hist. Soc. Coll. 1916), pp. 229, 253.
      70. C.O. 5:165, p. 183; ibid., 5:161, Germain to Townshend, 4 Dec. 1775; ibid., 5:93, Howe to Dartmouth, 2 Dec. 1775 (enclosure); 38 Commons Journal, pp. 1106-1107.
      71. W.O. 55:369, p. 250.
      72. W.O. 1:890, Account of 17th Light Dragoons, 16 July, 1775; C.O. 5:93, Howe to Dartmouth, 2 Dec. 1775 (enclosure). A common abuse was for officers to use horses and wagons of the provision train for their baggage. Burgoyne was obliged to issue an order forbidding this. State of the Expedition, p. 55; Burgoyne, Orderly Book, p. 85. See appendix to this chapter for proportion of bat-horses in Burgoyne’s expedition.
      73. London Gazette, 24 Aug. 1778. As illustrating the amount of provisions carried in the army wagons, Howe’s statement is interesting: “I think in Pennsylvania [in 1777] we carried about 22 days rum, about 6 days pork, and 12 or 14 days bread.” A View of the Evidence, p. 16.
      74. W.O. 60:12, 21, passim; C.O. 5:98, Prevost to Clinton, 15 Mar. 1779; ibid., 5:162, Amherst to Germain, 20 June, 1776; C.O. 5:163, Boddington to Knox, 21 June, 1777; T. 64:106, Robinson to Howe, 20, 24 June, 1776. Simcoe, Journal, pp. 46, 61. This statement applies also to cavalry and artillery horses.
      75. C.O. 5:250, Pownall to Robinson, 7 Jan. 1776. One of the horse contractors was a Scotsman named Fordyce. A London newspaper of 11 Oct. 1776 contains the following notice. “A correspondent asks whether General Howe has any horses to draw his artillery and waggons, without which he will never get to Philadelphia. The horses sent by Mr. Fordyce are all dead. That is a pretty job; but Mr. Fordyce is a Scotchman, and intends to be member for Colchester. He has canvassed the toone, and prepared aw things in readiness. Contracts are fine things! How many millions of English money will the Scotch profit by in this war!” Quoted in Trevelyan, III, 186-187, note.
      76. W.O. 60:12. When the evacuation of Philadelphia was being contemplated in March, 1778, Amherst recommended that the two regiments of light dragoons (16th and l7th) be sent home unmounted. Their horses were to be kept for the service of the army as baggage horses or for drawing cannon. Correspondence of Geo. III with Lord North, II, 153.
      77. C.O. 5:162, Townshend to Germain, 27 Jan. 1776.
      78. London Gazette, 28 Oct. 1777.
      79. W.O. 47:87, Minutes, 6, 20, 27 Feb., 29 June, 1776.
      80. T. 64:102, Day to Robinson, 15 May, 1777; 38 Commons Journal, p. 1068.
      81. W.O. 1:51, H. Calder to Jenkinson, 29 Oct. 1779; ibid., General Vaughan to Jenkinson, 21 Sept. 1780.
      82. 38 Commons Journal, p. 1071. See also “A State of the Number of Drivers, Horses, and Waggons employed in the Quarter Master Generals Department” between 1777 and 1781, in appendix to this chapter.
      83. C.O. 5:93, Germain to Howe, 5 Jan. 1776.
      84. T. 64:102, Day to Robinson, 15 May, 1777, Day to Carleton, 14 Jan. 1777; W.O. 28:7, passim.
      85. See, for example, Howe’s operations near New York. “Minute Book of a Board of General Officers” (N. Y. Hist. Soc. Coll. 1916), p. 71.
      86. C.O. 5:100, Cornwallis to Clinton, 14 July, 1780; ibid., 5:102, 10 Apr. 1781; ibid., 5:101, Cornwallis to Leslie, 12 Nov. 1780; ibid., 5:102, Cornwallis to Clinton, 30 June, 1781.
      87. C.O. 5:100, Cornwallis to Clinton, 6 Aug. 1780; ibid., 5:101, Rawdon to Clinton, 29 Oct. 1780; Clinton-Cornwallis Controversy, I, 246.
      88. Mentioned as in use by the garrison at New York, we find the following: armed brig (140 tons, 40 guns); armed schooner (80 tons, 8 guns); 2 sloops (40 and 30 tons each); hulk (180 tons); gunboats (10 oars, one 9-pounder) ; gun-barges (30 oars, one brass 12-pounder); batteaux (16 oars, one 12-pounder); batteaux (8 oars and 6 oars, unarmed); gun-flats (16 oars, two 12-pounders); crabs; whale-boats (16 oars, one 3-pounder); whaleboats (8 oars, one 1-pounder); scows. W.O. 60:21, passim.
      89. W.O. 60:12, 21, passim; ibid., 60:20, passim.
      90. Clinton-Cornwallis Controversy, I, 323, 325; II, 28.
      91. 38 Commons Journal, pp. 1068, 1070. These figures do not include vessels imported from England but only those procured in America. They do not refer to the forces in Canada, but only to those south of the St. Lawrence.
      92. London Gazette, 21 Sept. 1776; C.O. 5:93, Howe to Germain, 30 Nov. 1776; ibid., 5:93, Germain to Howe, 5 Jan. 1776.
      93. C.O. 5:254, Germain to Admiralty, 15 Jan., 13 Feb. 1776.
      94. C.O. 5:125, Douglas to Stephens, 21 Oct. 1776.
      95. London Gazette, 25 Aug. 1777.
      96. C.O. 5:163, Germain to Townshend, 30 Apr. 1777, Townshend to Germain, 3 May, 1777, Blomefield to Townshend, 4 May, 1777.
      97. Burgoyne, State of the Expedition, pp. 21, 144.
      98. Fortescue, III, 230.
      99. London Gazette, 2 Dec. 1777.
      100. London, Gazette, 2 Dec. 1777, 9 Jan., 9 June, 1778.
      101. C.O. 5:125, Captain Douglas to Philip Stephens, 21 Oct. 1776.
      102. 38 Commons Journal, p. 1068.
      103. T. 64:102, Day to Robinson, 15 May, 1777.
      104. T. 64:102, Day to Robinson, 12, 20 June, 1777. Many of the batteau-men were of course French Canadians who were not overenthusiastic about the cause of Great Britain: “I am pretty certain the Canadians will take no part against us, until French Troops are among them; consequently I think I have little to fear this Year; in the mean time they are very useful in our Transport, and are tolerably obedient.” C.O. 5:98, Haldimand to Clinton, 19 July, 1779.
      105. Fortescue, III, 177.
      106. Narrative of Sir William Howe, p. 3.
      107. C.O. 5:93, Clinton to Germain, 3 May, 1776.
      108. C.O. 5:92, Howe to Dartmouth, 2 Dec. 1775; ibid., 5:93, Germain to Howe, 5 Jan. 1776.
      109. “Minute Book of a Board of General Officers” (N. Y. Hist. Soc. Coll. 1916), p. 75.
      110. C.O. 5:94, Germain to Howe, 14 Jan. 1777. Clinton was urged to reduce the number of horses. T. 64:107, Robinson to Clinton, 30 Mar. 1781, 26 Mar. 1782.
      111. 111Stedman, American War, I, 353.
      112. Stedman, American War, I, 353; Digby, Journal, p. 226.
      113. London Gazette, 28 Oct. 1777; Lamb, Journal, p. 151.
      114. State of the Expedition, p. 10; Digby, Journal, p. 304.
      115. C.O. 5:98, Prevost to Clinton, 15 Mar. 1779. Cf. Fortescue, III, 272-273.
      116. T. 64:106, Paumier to Robinson, 7 Aug. 1779; London Gazette, 20 Feb. 1779 (Lieut. Col. Campbell to Clinton, 16 Jan. 1779); C.O. 5:98, Prevost to Clinton, 30 July, 1779; London Gazette, 23 Feb. 1779.
      117. 38 Commons Journal, p. 1071.
      118. 38 Commons Journal, p. 1069. Cf. Jones, History of New York, I, ch. 16, “Base Transactions of Commissaries, Quarter masters, and Barrackmasters, and Engineers, in America.”
      119. 38 Commons Journal, p. 1069.
      120. 38 Commons Journal, p. 1071.






      DateShips' NamesTonnagePd. or contracted to be pd.Remarks
      Sept. 13Charming Sally17410sDischarged
      Sept. 15Russia Merchant24310s
      Oct. 1Hope267 61/9410sTaken
      Nov. 3John and William13010s
      Nov. 10Noble Bounty27310s
      Nov. 24Carcass Tender13010s
      Jan. 24Woodland22211sDischarged
      Jan. 24Prince George19211s
      Jan. 24Helen19511s
      Jan. 24Fleetwood21911sDischarged
      Jan. 24Devonshire17911s
      Jan. 24Friendship19911s
      Jan. 24Hopewell33911s
      Jan. 24Prince of Wales20111s
      Mar. 1June30011s
      Mar. 15Rebecca19011s
      Apr. 2Cadiz Packet20012s 6d
      Apr. 3Union Success25412s 6d
      Apr. 29Samuel and Elizabeth19511s
      Aug. 1Nottingham27112s 6Strongly fitted and armed
      Sept. 2PriscillaStrongly fitted and armed
      Sept. 2UnityStrongly fitted and armed
      Sept. 2Aston Hall37012s 6dStrongly fitted and armed
      Sept. 2Richmond35012s 6dDischarged at Domenica.
      Sept. 6Lord Townshend70014sVery Strongly fitted and armed
      Sept. 15Lord Amherst71514sVery Strongly fitted and armed
      Feb. 4Brilliant80014sVery Strongly fitted and armed
      Feb. 4Price Frigate33012s 6dVery Strongly fitted and armed
      Feb. 6Lord Howe72014s 6sVery Strongly fitted and armed
      Mar. 4Emanuel16014s 6sDischarged
      Mar. 9Andrew30014s 6sVery Strongly fitted and armed
      May 13Speke70012s 6sVery Strongly fitted and armed
      May 16Commerce40012s 6dDischarged
      May 16Martha32012s 6dDischarged
      May 16Friendship33012s 6dDischarged
      July 25Earl of Bathurst73714sVery Strongly fitted and armed
      Aug 7Earl of Cornwallis40013sVery Strongly fitted and armed
      Sept 25Adventurer37413sVery Strongly fitted and armed


      Cost of Troop Transports£499,193 17s 1d
      Cost of Victuallers£131,387 8s 7d
      Cost of Troop Transports£548,745 4s 1d
      Cost of Victuallers£275,233 0s 10d
      Cost of Troop Transports£433,650 12s 10d
      Cost of Victuallers£478,913 5s 2d
      Cost of Troop Transports£408,629 10s 1/4d
      Cost of Victuallers£480,514 19s 5d
      Cost of Troop Transports£405,147 12s 10d
      Cost of Victuallers£323,963 11s 4s


      George R.

      George the Third by the Grace of God, King of Great Britain France and Ireland Defender of the Faith etc. To our Trusty and Welbeloved Major Robert Molleson
      Greeting We do by these Presents constitute and appoint you to be Waggon Master General to Our Army serving in North America. You are therefore carefully and diligently to discharge the Duty of Waggon Master General by doing and performing all and all manner of things thereunto belonging; And you are to observe and follow such Order and Directions from time to time as you shall receive from Us Our Commander in Chief of Our Army serving in North America or any other your Superior Officer, according to the rules and Discipline of War.

      Given at Our Court at St. James Is the First day of July One Thousand Seven Hundred and Eighty two. In the Twenty Second Year of Our Reign.

      By His Majesty’s Command

      Thos. Townshend

      Major Robert Molleson Waggon Master General to the Army Serving in North America.


      PeriodsNo. of vesselsAmount of the Hire
      Sir William Erskine, Quarter Master General
      Between 25 December 1776 and 31 March 177763£4,042 15s 5 1/4d
      1st April and 30th June 177745£2,987 2s 1 1/2d
      1st July and 30th September 177746£4,110 4s 3 1/2d
      1st October and 31st December 1777103£14,108 3 12s 7 3/4d
      1st January and 31st March 177841£5,847 10s 2d
      1st April and 30th June 1778122£18,775 12s 9 3/4d
      1st July and 30th September 177872£9,924 10s
      1st October and 31st December 177891£11,897 14s 9 3/4d
      1st January and 31st March 177960£9,429 10s 11d
      1st April and 30th June 177968£13,039 1s 4 3/4d
      Lord Cathcart, Acting Quarter Master General
      1st July to 30th September 177970£11,575 4s 7d
      1st October and 31st December 177959£10,249 1s 11d
      1st January and 31st March 178062£11,406 19s 9 1/4d
      TOTAL£127,483 18s 10 1/4d


      PeriodsNo. of WaggonsNo. of HorsesNo. of DriversAmount of Hire
      Sir William Erskine, Quarter Master General
      Between 25th December 1776 and 31st March 17775231,176458£13,666 3s
      1st April and 30th June 17777632,082817£28,238 14s
      1st July and 30th September 17771,3763,1111,440£23,631 13s
      1st October and 31st December 17777981,880798£23,785 12s
      1st January and 31st March 17787481,810750£27,281 12s 6d
      1st April and 30th June 17788972,128899£31,498 2s 8d
      1st July and 30th September 17787091,893793£27,821 15s 11 3/4d
      1st october and 31st December 17786401,809642£24,161 12s 2d
      1st January and 31st March 17795231,515524£21,555 19s 2d
      1st April and 30th June 17796041,723607£24,532 8s 6d
      Lord Cathcart Acting Quarter Master General
      1st July and 30th September 17796462,014687£27,712 7s 90
      1st October and 31st December 17796992,164740£29,729 15s 9d
      1st January and 31st March17806902,147731£29,819 12s 6d
      TOTAL£338,435 8s 6 3/4d


      per BattnTotal
      To a field Officer36
      A Captain212
      A Subaltern116
      A surgeon and mate22
      A chaplain11
      A quarter master11
      For carrying the company's tents 2 horses to each company16
      Total per Battn54

      N.B. This calculation was made upon eight companies to a battalion, in which 2 field officers’ companies are included.
      The horses for the five British battalions of the line, in which two field officers’ companies are included.
      The horses for the five British battalions of the line, upon calculation, amount to . . . 272
      Gen. Fraser’s corps, reckoned to be equal to four battalions . . . 216
      Five German battalions, @ 70 horses per battalion, that being the difference in proportion to their strength . . . 350
      Breyman’s corps . . . 100
      Total for the regts. of the regs . . . 936
      2 M. Gens . . . 12
      4 Brigs . . . 16
      Brit. Q.M.G. and asst’s . . . 12
      Ger. Q.M.G. and asst’s . . . 12
      The Hospital . . . 30
      Total . . . 82
      Canads. – Inds. – and Provs . . . 200
      Artificers . . . 50
      Total . . . 250
      Recapit. of whole distrib . . . 1268


      Waggons for every Batt'n of 677 with Harness compleat for four Horses to each Waggon4
      Waggons for every Batt'n of 677 with Harness compleat for four Horses to each Waggon Sunks for the Bat-Horses of each Batt'n Vizt. 2 per Comp'y for the Men's Tents and Blankets and 2 for the Medicine Chests with Collars and Wanties compleat22
      Water Decks of painted Oil Cloth22
      For the 42d Reg't Establishment 1, 168 men
      Water Decks32
      For the 71st Reg't of 2 Batt'ns Establishment 2, 298
      Water Decks64
      The Seven Reg'ts now about to sail under the Command of Earl Cornwallis have received the following proportion of Necessaries Vizt.
      Waggons with Harness compleat for three Horses to each Vizt1
      Waggons for the use of their Hospital2
      Sunks for Bat Horses22
      Water Decks22
      Therefore there wants to compleat to their proportion of Necessaries per Batt'n as follows:
      Sets of Harness for Waggons and the two Hospital Waggons15

      It is understood that the Treasury mean to order a number of Draught and Bat-Horses, to be bought up for the Service in North America: And that the Ordnance are to send over, such proportion of Horses, as may be Judged requisite for drawing the Artillery: That the Waggons and Harness, would be most conveniently provided by the Ordnance; That the Treasury are to give Directions for supplying the Blankets and Watch Coats; and that the War Office, is to order the sunks, Water Decks, etc. along with the Ordinary Camp Necessaries.

      It is supposed, that, exclusive of the two Regiments now Prisoners there will be in North America next Campaign, 43 British Batt’ns Vizt. 42 Regiments of one Battalion each, and the 71st Regiment of two Batt’ns. Of this number it is probable that there may be 5 Batt’ns in Detached Garrisons, which may not immediately require Waggons, so that there will remain 38 Batt’ns to be provided.

      Waggons with 4 Sets of Harness

      For 35 Batt'ns at 4 each140560
      For 1 Batt'n 42 Reg't624
      For 1 Batt'ns 71 Reg't1248
      Total for 38 Batt'ns158632
      Of this Number the 7 Reg'ts under Earl Cornwallis have received927
      There remains to be provided for the
      And for the two Reg'ts of Light Dragoons 4 each832


      DistributionDriversWaggonsHorsesCommencingEndingAt per Day
      Commander- in-Chief (Howe)6612May 10June 3072s
      Lord Cornwallis336Apr. 1June 3072s
      Major General Vaughan336Apr. 1June 3036s
      Major General Grant336Apr. 1June 3036s
      Major General Grey224Apr. 14June 3036s
      Brigadien General Agnew224Apr. 1June 3024s
      Brigadien General Matthew224Apr. 1June 3024s
      Brigadien General Leslie224Apr. 1June 3024s
      Quarter Master General and Family336Apr. 1June 3036s
      Adjutant General and Family224Apr. 1June 3024s
      Hospital448Apr. 3June 3048s
      Engineer's Department8832Apr. 1June 30144s
      Pontoon Waggons6432128Apr. 2June 30672s
      Flat Boat Waggons4422132Apr. 3June 30594s
      Maj. Holland's Corps of Pioneers and Guides224Apr. 1June 3024s
      16th Regt. Light Dragoons7714Apr. 4June 3084s
      17th Regt. Light Dragoons7714Apr. 2June 3084s
      1st Battalion Light Infantry101020Apr. 1June 30120s
      2d Battalion Light Infantry101020Apr. 1June 30120s
      British Rifle- men224Apr. 2June 3024s
      Queen's Rangers5510Apr. 3June 3060s
      1st Battalion Grenadiers101020Apr. 1June 30120s
      2d Battalion Grenadiers101020Apr. 1June 30120s
      Guards, 2 Battalions161632Apr. 2June 30192s
      4th Regt.5510Apr. 5June 3060s
      5th Regt.5510Apr. 2June 3060s
      7th Regt.5510May 11June 3060s
      10th Regt.5510May 11June 3060s
      15th Regt.5510Apr. 1June 3060s
      17th Regt.5510Apr. 1June 3060s
      23rd Regt.5510Apr. 3June 3060s
      26th Regt.5510May 11June 3060s
      27th Regt.5510Apr. 3June 3060s
      28th Regt.5510Apr. 1June 3060s
      33rd Regt.5510Apr. 1June 3060s
      35th Regt.5510Apr. 2June 3060s
      37th Regt.5510May 11June 3060s
      38th Regt.5510May 11June 3060s
      40th Regt.5510Apr. 1June 3060s
      42nd Regt. Two Battalions10520Apr. 3June 30120s
      44th Regt.5510Apr. 2June 3060s
      46th Regt.5510Apr. 1June 3060s
      49th Regt.5510Apr. 3June 3060s
      52nd Regt.5510May 11June 3060s
      55th Regt.5510Apr. 2June 3060s
      64th Regt.5510Apr. 1June 3060s
      71st Regt. Three Battalions161632Apr. 1June 3060s
      Artillery464692Apr. 1June 30552s


      In 17778232092763
      In 17788742086874
      In 17797402164699
      In 17807312146690
      In 17816231979620

      N.B. A no. of Horses and Waggons were taken from the Rebel Country in the Years of 1777 and 1778 which if brought into Acct would make one fourth more than what is charged for in the subsequent Years.

      In 1779 the Pontoon Train was ordered to be completed which with the arrival of the 76th, 80th, 82nd and 84th Regiments from Europe, the Troops from Rhode Island, and the Flank Companies from Halifax as also the increase of the Provincial Corps, caused an additional number of Horses to be employed that year.

      1. 40 Commons Journal, p. 138.
      2. W.O. 55:371, pp. 193-194.
      3. Adm., Navy Board, 3526.
      4. W.O. 25:37, p. 94.
      5. 38 Commons Journal, p. 1104.
      6. 38 Commons Journal, p. 1109.
      7. State of the Expedition, pp. 145-146, note.
      8. W.O. 1: 890, pp. 1-5.
      9. 38 Commons Journal, pp. 1104-1106. These statistics do not include the Hessian corps. See also pp. 1106-1109.
      10. “Minute Book of a Board of General Officers” (N.Y. Hist. Soc. Coll., 1916), p.226.

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