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Tuesday, April 10, 2018

1775 letters from Henry Livingston Jr to the Provincial Congress


Two letters are transcribed below, both addressed to Peter Van Brugh Livingston as presiding officer of the first New York Provincial Congress. Neither is listed among Letters of Major Henry Livingston Jr on Mary S. Van Deusen's great Henry Livingston website. The first one, dated August 21, 1775, was written three days after the birth of his and wife Sally's daughter Catharine, and two days after his extant letter to James Clinton of August 19, 1775. As documented in Journals of the Provincial Congress, Major Livingston succeeded in getting Samuel Cooke approved as regimental surgeon.

From American Archives: Fourth Series, Volume 3, ed. Peter Force (Washington, 1840), page 555:
A Letter from Major Henry Livingston, Jun., of the 21st instant, was read and filed, and is in the words following :
“Poughkeepsie, August 21, 1775.

“SIR: I am desired by Colonel Clinton to inform the honourable the Provincial Congress, that drums are wanting for the respective Companies that compose his Regiment. He also desired me to mention our medicine chest; suppose, however, we shall find that and the drums at Albany, With respect to Dr. Samuel Cooke, the gentleman nominated Surgeon to our Regiment, I am authorized to inform your, Sir, that he attended several days in New-York for his examination, but at length by one contingency or other came away without it. He at first applied to Dr. Jones, who would not examine him unless Dr. Bard (who was out of Town) was present. The matter was stated to the Congress, who ordered that one of the members should wait on Dr. Jones, and inform him that an examination by him alone would satisfy them. Dr. Jones, however, declined. After Dr. Bard's return, there was a day appointed for the business, but that day both Dr. Jones and Bard were called to Long-Island. Dr. Cooke, being very unwell at the time, could stay no longer, having attended several days to no purpose.

“Those officers and soldiers who are acquainted with Dr. Cooke and his practice, and good success both as physician and surgeon, are very desirous to have his appointment confirmed, and as we expect to march in two or three days, are exceedingly anxious that he may be acquainted with it, and follow us as soon as possible.

“I am, Sir, your obedient humble servant,

“HENRY LIVINGSTON, JUN. 
“To the Hon. Peter V. B. Livingston, Esq.”
Another, written eight days later from Albany, New York and also recorded in Journals of the Provincial Congress:
A letter from Henry Livingston, Jr. major of the third regiment, was read and filed, and is in the words following, to wit : 
"Albany, August 29th, 1775. 
"Sir — I am desired by Col. Clinton to inform you that he arrived here last Saturday, and has now with him six companies, encamped about a mile out of town — that there are guns enough to equip about three companies — that there are two companies beside that have arms, but want some repairs ; and as there are not armourers sufficient at Ticonderoga, must wait here 'till they can be repaired. That there is great want of officers' tents, there being here only sufficient for 2 companies, and 1 tent for the lieutenant-colonel. Of soldiers' tents for our regiment there is a sufficiency, (but no more than barely for our 7 companies.) That the soldiers murmur much for want of pav, and are very unwilling to march from here without it. That the medicine chest is not yet arrived, or a surgeon, and that drums and fifes are wanting. However, 3 companies will be equipped with all speed, and sent off immediately. 
"I am, sir, " Your very humble servant, 
"HENRY LIVINGSTON, Jr. 
"To Hon. Peter Van Brugh Livingston."
In May 1777, a letter to the Council of Safety was received from Henry Livingston, Jr. and two other men, complaining of their inadequate pay as Dutchess county commissioners "for disposing of the personal property of persons gone over to the enemy." On advice from committee, the Council denied their request for extra pay.
The letter from Isaac Shelden, Theodorus Van Wyck and Henry Livingston, Junr. commissioners in Dutchess county for disposing of the personal property of persons gone over to the enemy, and which was committed on the 23d instant, was again read. The said commissioners thereby allege that the allowance made to them while employed in that service is inadequate to their trouble and expense, and request additional pay. The committee to whom the said letter was referred, reported "That it is their opinion that the augmentation of the pay of the said commissioners at this time would be attended with disagreeable consequences, as it would authorize every officer, or set of officers, now in the service of this State, to complain of their pay, and to expect success from a similar application." The same being taken into consideration, Resolved, That this Council doth agree with their committee in the said report.

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