George Washington’s Orders to Reuben Colburn

ORDERS TO REUBEN COLBURN

Head Quarters at Cambridge, September 3, 1775.

You are to go with all Expedition to Gardnerstone upon the River Kenebeck and without Delay proceed to The Constructing of Two Hundred Batteaus, to row with Four Oars each. Two Paddles and Two setting poles to be also provided for each Batteau.

You are to Engage a Company of Twenty Men consisting of Artificers, Carpenters, and Guides to go under your Command to Assist in such Services as you, and they, may be called upon to Execute:

You are to purchase Five Hundred Bushells of Indian Corn, to provide the Workmen employ’d in Building The Batteaus.

You are to bespeak all The Pork and Flour, you can from the Inhabitants upon the River Kennebeck, and a Commissary will be immediately sent from the Commissary General, to agree, and pay for the same; you will also acquaint The Inhabitants, that The Commissary will have Orders to purchase Sixty Barrells of Salted Beef, of Two hundred and Twenty pounds each Barrell.

You are to receive Forty Shillings Lawfull Money for each Batteau, with the Oars, Paddles, and Setting poles included, out of which you are also to pay The Artificers and for all the Provisions, Nails &ca. they shall expend.

G. W. Washington

Note: The expedition reached Colburn’s home on September 21, 1775. Given the two days of return travel from Cambridge to Maine and the two days of Sabbath that fell in this period (and where obeyed despite the revolutionary emergency, Colburn and his crew had just 14 days to build 200 bateaux. This agreement should have paid Colburn 8,800 shillings for his work. Washington’s account book shows that he only paid Colburn 10 pounds in advance. Despite trying for decades to get reimbursement from the government, Colburn was never paid any more.