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Colonial and State Records of North Carolina
Letter from Robert Bignall to Alexander Martin
Bignall, Robert, ca. 1730-1787
November 17, 1781
Volume 22, Pages 598-600


Tarborough, Nov. 17th, 1781.

To the care of Col. Robert Burton, Quarter Master General.


The time for the delivering of the tobacco at Washington, for the payment of the Arms and powder I purchased at New Bern, is now

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nearly out, and not one hhd. delivered agreeable to your Letter of the 28th ulto. I wrote Col. Burton, the Quarter Master General, in the most pointed manner for some assistance in getting down the Tobacco from this place. I also acquainted him with the order you sent me on Major Tatum for Tobacco, requesting him to furnish Waggons to have it brought down immediately. I also wrote Major Tatum at the same time, but neither of those Gentlemen have as yet been pleased to favor me with a single line. I can’t even get Waggons to bring the remainder of the Arms and Powder from New Bern. In short, Sir, the Boats on this River are all engaged to carry down private Tobacco, and the gentlemen seemed to be determined to disappoint the Public at all events. They are I believe determined not to furnish the public with a single hhd. of Tobacco towards paying this Debt. I know of no way the Tobacco can be got down but by impowering some person to impress Boats and take Hands out of the Militia, which I wish you would be pleased to give orders for immediately. I don’t expect the least Assistance from the Quarter Master, or he surely would have wrote me before now. I am daily receiving Letters from the Staff Department to furnish them with necessaries to make their department easy, not considering that I have anything to pay out of what I have in my hands. Everything I have in my hands will not more than pay the demands against me which I am bound to discharge, and which I wish to do as soon as Possible, that I may be done with Public Business. I find I cannot carry it on without involving myself in many difficulties, and almost every Person seems to wish to ruin the Trade I have undertaken to manage. Had I have purchased agreeable to Governor Burke’s instructions, I know not what would have been the Consequences. I make not the least doubt that you will think as I do, that the Gentlemen holders of Tobacco at this Place, Washington and New Bern, should be called upon to contribute their proportion of Tobacco towards discharging the Public Debt. As I have not Salt I can’t purchase much Tobacco; however, I am in hopes to be able to purchase a few Hhds. soon with a few Dry Goods I have lately received from France in the Brigg Freedom, of which I own 1-8 part, but for the greatest part of my 1-8 Tobacco was shipped on freight so that I had drawn but a little part after paying my part of Disbursements and outfits. I wish to hear from you as soon as convenient. I know you are (as well as myself) anxious
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that this Debt for the Arms and Powder should be paid agreeable to my promise.

I have the honor to be with due regard,
Your most obedient and humble Servt.,

P. S. I now write Col. Burton and Major Tatum.

R. B.