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Colonial and State Records of North Carolina
Letter from Edward Carrington to Horatio Gates, including extracts of letters from William Grayson and Samuel Hodgdon to Carrington
Carrington, Edward, 1749-1810
August 03, 1780
Volume 14, Pages 526-528


Richmond, August 3d, 1780.


When I had the Honor to see you at this place, I acquainted you of the Measures I had taken to procure the necessary Agents for erecting a Laboratory here, by sending to Philadelphia to engage them. I at the same time Urged to the Board of War there and the Commissary General of Military Stores the propriety of establishing in Virginia a Laboratory on the Continental footing, as I plainly perceived that it would take a longer time than the service would admit of to bring a thing of the sort to any degree of perfection under the Administration of the State. The result of my application you will learn from the enclosed

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extracts of letters from Colo. Grayson and Mr. Hodgdon. I am in daily expectation of the Arrival of the Hands who are for this business, and own that I am confident we have made a good exchange by shifting from the State to Continent. The Simple business of Making Musquet Cartridges is enough to depend on Virginia for, & indeed had your Army been active yet, you would have found it too much for her to furnish you. We cannot get a Sufficient Number of Men to Work to make any figure, & those we have are such thoroughbred Virginians that they affect to be sick half their time. The produce of their labour is forwarded by Col. Muter to Genl. Stevens from time to time, as sufficient quantities are done.

You find from Mr. Hodgdon's Letter that a field commissary to Military Stores is also to be sent on for the Southern department, an officer much wanted, as we are, unless some arrangements can be made in that line, at a loss in the transportation of stores from here to the Army. To deliver a quantity of stores to a Waggoner, or even a Waggon Master, to carry to the Army, is but a Vague Mode of doing business and liable to loss and disappointment, & yet for want of certain establishments in the Commissary line the Stores that have hitherto gone from here have altogether depended on chance for a more secure conveyance. Higherto Col. Muter has been fortunate enough to meet with tolerable opportunities of Quarter Masters, &c., except in the instance of sending on the Flints you left orders for as you went by this place. We were under the necessity of sending them to the care of the commanding officer of the Guard with the surplus stores at Taylor's Ferry, with a request that they would forward them to the Army. This we did because we knew not certainly the Station of the Army, & we naturally concluded that a frequent communication existed between those Stores & the Army. I at the same time did myself the Honor to write you on the subject of ascertaining us whether our idea of making the Station of the Surplus stores a Medium of Communication with you was a proper one or not. I hope those Flints & the letter have both Arrived safely before this. I do not apprehend that the business here will so much require my presence as to continue me a moment longer than circumstances

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will make me of service with the Army, & shall wish to be called forward as soon as you may find this the case.

I have the honor to be, with due respect,
Y'r most Obed't Humb'l Ser't,
Major Gen'l Gates.

[Extract of a Letter from Colo. Grayson to Lt. Col. Carrington, dated Philadelphia, July 3rd, 1780.]

Some time since I applied to the Board to establish a Laboratory & Armory in some of the Southern States; thing did not at first meet with all that Countenance which I expected; neither is it yet fixed upon with certainty; however, the sentiment at present is to establish a Laboratory & Armory at or near Richmond, & I believe a Report will go up to Congress to-day or to-morrow for that purpose, should the Measure be adopted, which I suppose will be the case. We shall act upon it with the utmost expedition, and shall send some experienced Workmen & an able Manager to push the Matter immediately.

[Extract of a letter from Saml. Hodgdon, Esq., A. C. M. S. to Lt. Col. Carrington, Dated Phila., June 30th, 1780.]

With respect to the Laboratory, having lately reported a plan for the Establishment of one in some part of Virginia upon Continental establishment, which plan I am ordered to carry into immediate execution, and having accordingly procured a suitable person to carry it on, likewise a Commissary of Military Stores to arrange the department in the Field, both well calculated for this salutary business, who will shortly arrive to execute their respective charges, with ample instructions, I judged it unnecessary to send any regulations that might present the general plan.