The Papers of General Nathanael Greene

From Major Robert Forsyth,

He was appointed deputy commissary general of purchases for the Southern Army by Col. [Ephraim] Blaine "under the late arrangement of that Department."[1] Before leaving Philadelphia, he was asked by Gov. [Thomas] Jefferson to oversee the "Qr Masters business in this State"— an offer that he learned had resulted from NG's "Friendly recommendation." Forsyth asked the Board of War about holding both posts and was privately advised, after waiting ten days for a reply, that it would be acceptable. Before he got to Richmond, however, he learned that Maj. [Richard] Claiborne had been appointed deputy quartermaster. Is happy that Claiborne "fills the station."[2]
Is "exceedingly troubled at the scanty prospect before us; the spring at hand and no probability of supplies of salt meats to serve until Beef on foot is fit for the knife." Has had no reply to his requests from the state agents in Maryland and Virginia; does not expect that "either state will comply with quarter the requisition" that Congress "required." Will send the "Spirits and Flour" that have been collected as soon as transportation is available. His "great delay" in Philadelphia "embarrasses" him; he left before his accounts could be settled, and he has been harassed "to Death" by his creditors.[3] Seeks NG's orders.[4] The "new system" of the commissary department ties his hands so that he can do nothing to procure supplies. Unless the states "comply with the demands of Congress," he does not see how NG's army "can possibly keep the field."[5] Is sending instructions concerning the "commissarys business" to Claiborne's newly appointed agents.
Autograph letter signed (MiU-C) 3 pp.
    [1.] In its "late arrangement," Congress had authorized the appointment of a deputy commissary of purchases for the Southern Army. (JCC, 18: 1110.)
    [2.] NG's recommendation that Forsyth be appointed deputy quartermaster for Virginia is in his letter to Timothy Pickering of 20 November 1780 (PGNG, 6: 495). Claiborne's appointment is discussed in ibid., pp. 467-68n.
    [3.] Forsyth had previously been a deputy commissary in Virginia. (PGNG, 4: 50n)
    [4.] NG replied on 31 March (PGNG, 8: 16).
    [5.] By "new system," Forsyth meant the state supply system, under which Congress established quotas that the states were responsible for meeting; they frequently did not fill their allotments. (See PGNG, 5: 450-54 and n.)