The Papers of General Nathanael Greene

From General Ezekiel Cornell,

Has NG's letter of 29 December 1780. Believes Dr. [James] McHenry will be promoted. If not, Gen. [John] Sullivan will carry out NG's wishes, as Cornell is now "out of Congress."[1] Is "sorry" that NG's army is "not better prepared to fight"; a "Quantity of stores" has been sent, and a supply of clothing for the Southern Army will soon follow. Discusses the mutiny of the Pennsylvania line.[2] Some troops of that line "are discharged[,] the remainder furloughed for two months so that the whole is disbanded at present." Sir Henry Clinton is "Quiet"; Cornell need not comment on Benedict Arnold's "excursions."[3 ]Cornell is now on the Board of War, but does "not expect to remain there long." All of the boards will be reorganized and "conducted by a minister who are to be great men." Cornell doubts, though, that Congress can give the ministers "powers sufficient."[4] Thinks "a new mode of carrying on the War" is needed; the present one is "too expensive," unless a "more regular and effectual mode of raising money" is found. Congress is considering a duty on imports, but Cornell is unsure how it "will suit" the states.[5] "The United States as a publick body are as poor as Job. But their Inhabitants are rich, more so then when the war commenced. While that is the case it is impossible they can be conquered." Gen. [Edward] Hand has been appointed adjutant general, Mr. "Pearce" [John Pierce] is the new paymaster general, and Dr. [John] Cochran has been appointed director general [of the hospital department], replacing [William] Shippen, who resigned.[6] [James] Varnum, now in Congress, plans to write NG "by this conveyance."[7]
Autograph letter signed (RNHi) 3 pp.
    [1.] NG's request concerning McHenry is in his letter to Cornell of 29 December (PGNG, 7: 20-22). As noted there, McHenry received his promotion.
    [2.] On the mutiny, see Madison to NG, 13 January (PGNG, 7: 116-118).
    [3.] Arnold's "excursions" are discussed at Steuben to NG, 8 January (PGNG, 7: 76-81).
    [4.] Congress soon adopted a plan to reorganize the executive departments, voting on 7 February "That there be a Superintendant of Finance, a Secretary at War, and a Secretary of Marine." (JCC, 19: 126) It was not until October, however, that the superintendency of the war department was offered to Gen. Benjamin Lincoln. Even then, the Board of War, with Cornell still a member, continued to "exercise the duties" of the department for a time. (Ibid., 21: 1087, 1111)
    [5.] Although many states accepted the idea of an impost, Cornell's own state of Rhode Island opposed it, and a Rhode Island delegate, David Howell, "almost singlehandedly wrecked" it. (Ferguson, Power of Purse, pp. 152-53)
    [6.] NG had recommended the appointment of Alexander Hamilton as adjutant general. (See NG to Washington, 19 November 1780, PGNG, 6: 489.)
    [7.] If Varnum wrote NG, the letter has not been found.