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I shall be happy to see you here as soon as you can render it convenient. I think it will be necessary both for your interest and reputation. The General enquires after you with great earnestness. Things don't go on well in the preparations for the Indian Expedition upon the Susquehannah. Mrs. Greene's and my best respects to Mrs. Wadsworth. I am, with sincere regard,
Your most obedient
humble serv't Col. Wadsworth.
The next letter from Greene to Wadsworth, though it makes only a passing allusion to their “money matters,” is so characteristic of the writer that I must not omit it here. Greene loved plain speaking too well to tolerate the restraint imposed on friendly correspondence by the “alphabet of figures.” Overworked, contending with “difficulties and prejudices innumerable,” disheartened by the inactivity of Congress, and sharing Washington's conviction (expressed, three months earlier, in his letter to Benjamin Harrison) * that “our affairs were in a more distressed, ruinous, and deplorable condition than they had been since the commencement of the war,” and that “party disputes and personal quarrels were the great business of the day,”—and indignant at the suspicion manifested, in and out of Congress, of the administration of his own and the Commissary departments and at the obstacles that jealousy and intrigue were continually interposing to the successful discharge of his duties--he could not stop to weigh his words or measure his denunciations in his confidential letters to Wadsworth.
Camp, May 14th, 1779. Dear Sir:
Your favor of the 7th I have receiv'd. Your Express is just setting out, which prevents my writing you more fully upon money matters than the present opportunity will permit me.
I wish you to return to Camp as soon as possible. A late letter which you have wrote to the Treasury Board gives great offence, and it is said has been laid before the Congress; but of this I am not certain. I wish you to take no notice of the affair until I see you.
The midnight politician which we have often talked about for his duplicity, who used to lodge with you in the same house in Philadelphia, thinks and says we are a set of rascals ; that we are folding our arms and swimming with the tide, secure in our emoluments and regardless of the ruin and fate of our Country. He thinks if we had the least spark of public virtue we should offer our service gratis ; upon the foundation of which they would work a general reformation. He further adds, if the people won't save themselves they may all go to h- and be damn'd. This is a most extraordinary sentiment, and plainly indicates the light in which they
* Sparks, Writings of Washington, vi. 150.
view our services. I can tell you abundance more, but time won't permit. You must be patient, and stand still and see the Salvation of the Lord !
If I could be convinced in the least degree that my services gratis would lay the foundation for such a general reformation as they predict, I should not hesitate a moment to engage upon that footing, but I have no idea of any greater public benefit resulting from it than the saving of my commissions or salary.
The Gentleman maledicts exceedingly the alternative we have put our future services upon, viz. : that of the continuance of the commission, or a salary payable in Sterling money.
My Department is distressed beyond measure for want of money, and new difficulties arise dayly in getting money. What I shall do, I know not. It is said the Congress is setting upon another egg of Finance. I wish it may produce some good ; but I am greatly apprehensive that there are such opposite measures and opposite views in Congress that nothing effectual will take place.
I am with esteem & regard
NATH GREENE. Col. Wadsworth.
In December, 1779, Greene tendered to Congress his resignation of the office of Quartermaster-general, and requested that early measures should be taken to fill his place. The only answer he received was by the appointment, in January, of a commission to inquire into the condition of the general staff and introduce such reforms as might be deemed necessary. Gen. Schuyler, Timothy Pickering, and Gen. Mifflin were named on this commission. Schuyler declined to serve. On the 6th of April, “the report of the commissioners on the arrangement of the staff departments of the army ” was referred by Congress to a special committee of three--Gen. Schuyler, John Mathews (of South Carolina) and Nathaniel Peabody (of New Hampshire). Greene went from the Camp to Philadelphia, March 23d, * and remained in attendance on Congress and the committee till April 5th. After his return to Morristown, he wrote the following letter to Wadsworth. In it, as will be seen, he makes large use of the "alphabet of figures," and I have supplied, italicized and in brackets, the corresponding words of the key.
* Washington wrote to Schuyler, March 22d : “Our affairs seem to be verging so fast to a stagnation in every branch, even provisions, that I have not only consented, but advised General Greene, as I shall do the Commissary when he arrives, to repair to Philadelphia, and endeavour to know with precision what is to be depended on in their respective departments. The new system adopted by Congress for conducting the business of these departments may have originated from two causes, necessity and choice ; the first, from inability for want of money to proceed any further in the old track ; the second, from a desire to charge the old system on account of the commission, it being thought, and I fear with too much reason, exceedingly expensive and disgustful to the people at large."-Sparks' Writings of Washington, vi., 489.
Morristown, 11th of April, 1780. Dear Sir:
I returned to this place last night from 2010 [Philadelphia). The 332 [Congress) are as great a set of 1012 [rascals) as ever got together. The 166 of 1292 [Board of the Treasury] are 1404 [worse] than the former. One of them I am sure is nothing less than a 1286 [traitor] ; he belongs to 332 [Congress] and is from N 2013 [North Carolina).
You may depend upon it that your information is good, and that it is the intention of 1292 [the Treasury] not to let any 232 (cash] go through your hands, with a view of saving the 292 [commission). They propose the same thing with regard to me, and I believe will attempt to carry it into execution. You cannot conceive the 781 [ignorance) and the 802 [injustice] of those two 9093 [orders] of 931 ( people).
You may depend upon it that great pains is taking to 240 [censure you and me. The plan is not to attack us personally; this they know will not answer; but to accuse the 1232 [system] of each, as producing all the consequential [sic] we now feel. The scheme is plausible, and if artfully managed will have its effects. Truth and righteousness is of no account with these 931 ( people). Any claim of merit for past services is not only laughed [at] but the person who should be foolish enough to make it would be severely ridiculed.
Be upon the 1367 [watch] and be upon your 718 [guard), for depend upon it the hand of Joab is in all these things.
I think our affairs are verging to something like 1054 [revolt]. It is publicly said at 2010 [Philadelphia] that 332 [Congress] have no longer the 327 (confidence] of 931 [the people] and that there is nothing left to save 1192 [the State) from being no more a 875 (Nation). Take care what you 1411 [write), as every possible advantage will be made of it. How stands our 298-37 [Company-affair] with B. D.? Let me know as particularly as you can. Send the information in one letter, and what you say upon it in another.
Yours, you know who,
N 713 [Greene).
This letter was filed by Col. Wadsworth, “N. GG, April 11, 1780."
July 15th, 1780, Congress approved the new system for the Quartermaster's department, and immediately on the receipt of their action Greene sent a renewal of his resignation-now made definite and peremptory. He was not, however, relieved of the duties of his office till Sept. 30th, though Pickering was appointed to succeed him August 5th. On the 14th of September Greene was appointed by Washington to the command of the Army of the South; and this appointment is perhaps justly regarded by his biographer not only as “ an open avowal of confidence at a moment of pecul- . iar delicacy," but as “a public declaration that the charges against his administration of the Quartermaster's department were false." *
* A letter of President Joseph Reed to Gen. Greene, written August 19th, 1780, after the peremptory resignation by the latter of his office of Quartermaster-general, supplies all needful comment on the resignation itself, and on the letter of Greene to Wadsworth of April 11th : “ You have undoubtedly great reason to complain of the public gratitude; so have the best men in all
Just how long after this Greene retained his interest in the firm of Barnabas Deane & Co., does not appear. He had certainly withdrawn from the partnership before the end of 1781. As his name had never appeared as a partner on the books of the firm, no entry shows when his connection with it terminated. The last reference that I find to it, in his correspondence with Colonel Wadsworth, is in a letter of July 18th, 1781, written from “High Hills, Santee, South Carolina," in which he asks: “How goes on our Commerce? Please to give me an account by the Table [i.e. in cipher), as letters are frequently intercepted.” In this letter he gives a humorous sketch of his southern campaign : “Our army has been frequently beaten, and, like a stock-fish, grows the better for it. ....I had a letter some time since from Mr. John Trumbull [' M'Fingal’] wherein he asserts that, with all my talents for war, I am deficient in the great art of making a timely retreat. I hope I have convinced the world to the contrary, for there are few Generals that have run oftener or more lustily than I have done. But I have taken care not to run too far, and, commonly, have run as fast forward as backward, to convince our Enemy that we were like a Crab, that could run either way.”
His correspondence with Wadsworth was continued, and I have seen a letter written from Philadelphia, Nov. 4th, 1783, in which the latter is reminded of an old “agreement to enter into business at New York after the war was over," and is asked “how his mind may now stand in this busi- . ness.” “I have not "—he writes—_“ fully determined upon my plan of future life, and only wait to see or hear from you, to fix upon my ultimate determination." But Wadsworth had already entered into other business engagements, and his partnership with Greene was not renewed. His connection with the firm of Barnabas Deane and Company was not, however, dissolved until the death of Mr. Deane in 1794.
The business of this firm was that of general traders. During the war they dealt largely in the staples and manufactures that were most needed
ages ; but it is not the present men, or at least a majority of them, of whom you have most reason to complain. You perhaps will be surprised when I assure you that in my opinion you never had fewer enemies in Congress than at present. A keen and a just sense of ill-treatment has drawn from you expressions which would have been properly applied to some members of Congress now gone, and perhaps to a few that remain ;" etc. -Life and Corresp. of Joseph Reed, vol. ii., p. 240. (The italics are mine.) To this Greene replied, August 29th : “Upon the whole, I considered myself as cruelly and oppressively treated. I did not wish to desert the business at a critical hour, nor did I wish to go into a quarrel with Congress. My letter of resignation may have had more tartness in it than was prudent; but I am far from thinking it merited the severity with which they regarded it, for I am well informed it was seven days in agitation to dismiss me from the service altogether.”—Ibid., p. 242.
for the use of the army, or that could be most advantageously exchanged for provisions and forage. They were owners, or part owners, of distilleries of “country rum” and “ Geneva ;" tried, not very successfully, to establish salt-works ; owned grist-mills; were interested in one or two privateers ; imported salt from the Bermudas, through the southern colonies, or otherwise ; and bought and sold or bartered wool, grain and flour, country produce and domestic manufactures. The business reputation of the firm was high, at home and abroad; the integrity and honor of its partners, without stain ; nor is there a vestige of evidence that its founders took undue advantage of their official positions to extend the business or increase the profits of the firm.