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Issued Rations, and Foods Found or Purchased by Mess Groups

For (June 24-26 2016) "Order out of confusion": Marching to Monmouth Courthouse
(Direct questions to John Rees,, or via Facebook messaging.)


Samuel Adams to his wife, from Englishtown, New Jersey, 19 July 1778:
this place is naturally but poor, and rendered much poorer by our Armys encamping a
few days here, and now afford no other kind of Vegetables but Purslain which boiled
with Bacon is our continual Diet.
Surgeon Samuel Adams to My Dear Sally, Sol Feinstone Collection, David Library.

Note: Mess squads will need to provide some food for the weekend. (See below.)
(Each mess squad will consist of 6 men; female followers will also be included.)
(* * The intention is to assign mess groups prior to the event to allow meal planning
and ensure each mess squad has at least on mess kettle.)
1. Campaign rations will be issued by Capt. Andrew Fitchs Company, 4th
Connecticut Regiment
Friday evening: Messes will be issued one pound of bread per person.
Saturday evening: Messes will be issued 3/4 pound of pork and a cooking area will be
2. Mess groups will likely wish to supplement the campaign ration issue with
foods or beverages then (June 1778) available for purchase via sutlers or local
inhabitants, or by foraging.
Food Purchased from Sutlers or Markets.
Purslain (see below) or other greens in season
(continued on next page)

Common Good Cider Vinegar (mix with water, will replace electrolytes in hot weather or when
Writing the day after the battle, Maryland Colonel Otho Holland Williams noted, The day was
intensely hot and many of our men fainted by the way vinegar & water kept me from a similar

Good West India rum

New England Rum
Peach Brandy
apple Brandy
Strong beer
Common beer
Wine that Is Madairy
New Jersey produce available in June:
Late Spring
Snap Beans

June 10

Most Active
June 10 - June 25

June 25

June 1

June 10 - Oct. 31

Nov. 15

May 15
June 25
May 20
June 10
June 15
April 15

May 20 - July 15
June 25 - July 31
June 15 - June 25
June 20 - July 20
June 25 - Sept. 1
May 5 - June 25

Aug. 31
Sept. 30
July 5
Aug. 31
Sept. 30
June 30

Gen. George Washington authorized foraging for wild "vegetables at Middlebrook, New
Jersey: [Army orders, 9 June 1777] there is plenty of common and French sorrel;
lamb's quarters [otherwise known as white goosefoot], and water cresses, growing
about camp ... The General recommends to the soldiers the constant use of them, as they
make an agreeable sallad, and have the most salutary effect. The regimental officer of
the day to send to gather them every morning, and have them distributed among the

General Wayne's detachment is almost starving.

Provisioning Washingtons Army During the Monmouth Campaign, June 1778
John U. Rees
Feeding troops in camp or garrison was sometimes troublesome, but provisioning an army on the move was often
extremely difficult, especially when operating by detachments in close proximity to the enemy. One pound of beef or
pound of pork, plus one pound of hard biscuit or one and pounds flour formed the basic Continental Army ration at the
time, with soft bread and vegetables being issued when available. Unfortunately, even before the June 1778 Monmouth
campaign began there were problems with food supply. Major-General Nathanael Greene accepted the post of
quartermaster-general in the midst of the December 1777 supply crisis, performing wonders under trying circumstances.
Writing from Valley Forge on 31 May 1778, Greene requested teams for wagons to haul salt provisions to camp, noting
that the army was "much more distressed for want of Provisions than forage." Shortages continued after the army
marched into New Jersey. The Quartermaster-General informed Deputy-Quartermaster Moore Furman from Hopewell,
"The Commissary comes with a grievious complaint - Not a barrel of flour in Camp and a monstrous family to supply. I
must beg you to furnish [him] with all the Waggons you possibly can. The forage department is important but the Army
must be fed at all events." And just the day before the Monmouth battle General George Washington discussed what
seemed to be widespread shortages with Major-General Horatio Gates in New York, I think you were right in
reducing the rations of meat and increasing it in flour and rice. Our supplies of the former are scarce and difficult to
obtain[,] of the latter they are plenty and easy.1
Foodstuff, once procured, depended upon transportation to haul it. General Washington wrote Quartermaster-General
Greene on 17 May, "There are some reasons that induce a suspicion [the enemy] may intend for New York. In any case
it is absolutely necessary we should be ready for an instant movement of the army. I have therefore to request you will
strain every nerve to prepare without delay the necessary provisions in your department for that purpose. The most
pressing and immediate object of your attention will be the procuring a large number of Waggons for transporting
baggage provisions &c ..." Greene referred to his difficulties in a post-battle letter to Brigadier-General George Weedon.
"The prodigeous quantity of business I had upon my hands and the great hurry in which we left the Valley Forge,
deprived me of the opportunity of takeing a formal leave of you. However I dare say when you consider I had the whole
machinary of the Army to put in motion, Supplies of all kinds to attend to; Camps to look out; Routes to fi[nd] orders of
march to furnish the General officers ... I had a most terrible time of it through the Jerseys not a soul to assist me except
the Brigade Q Masters until after the Battle of Monmouth."2
Anticipating an active campaign General Washington directed on 27 May 1778 that "Commanding Officers of
Brigades [are] ... to hold themselves in readiness to march, [they] are to apply immediately to the Quarter Master General
for a sufficient number of Waggons to transport their Baggage and are to have their respective Brigades supplied as
completely as possible with Camp Utensils and Necessaries of every kind requisite towards taking the Field. The
Commissary will have a quantity of hard bread and salt meat prepared to issue to the Army when call'd for." Three days
later Major-General Charles Lee, whose division was composed of "Poors, Varnumes, and Huntingdons Brigades," was
directed to "Begin your Marches at four oclock in the Morning at latest that they may be over before the heat of the day,
and that the Soldiers may have time to Cook, refresh, and prepare for the ensuing day."3
In late May Brigadier-General William Maxwells New Jersey troops already suffered from food supply difficulties at
their post across the river from Philadelphia. Writing on 5 June Maxwell informed the commander in chief, "I have ...
been much stinted with respect to Provisions in case I should have been in pursute of the Enemy, not being able to get at
anytime yet more than two days on hand but mostly from hand to mouth." On 18 June the British army completed their
evacuation of Philadelphia and began moving towards New York. The Jersey brigade commander immediately planned
for feeding Continental troops and the militia as they pursued the enemy, writing to Major-General Philemon Dickinson
on the 19th, "The Enemy set off late to day from Haddonfield & is coming on the Road to EvesHam ... the Militia should
be [mov]ing as fast as possable ... and Provisions ought to be Collected so that it might be handy." By the 23rd New
Jersey militia operations were hampered by a lack of food, General Dickinson informing Maxwell "that the Enemy was
in force on the other side of the Drawbridge and attempted to lay it but had been turned back by other militia uints, I
could not go then as my People had been Marching all day with out Provisions ..." Meanwhile the Jersey Continentals
kept constantly on the move "hoping ... [to] Collect a number of prisoners," Major Richard Howell, 2nd New Jersey
Regiment, finding "Provisions is extreamly difficult to procure as the Enemy have swept all before them ..." To allow his
men maximum mobility, Major Howell noted on June 24th, "my Method is [to] Leave men behind to Cook & bring on
[to] the rendezvous where we meet in the Evening."4

In a two-pronged race across New Jersey, the British columns took a northeasterly route from Philadelphia, while
Washington's main army, having left Valley Forge on 19 June and crossing the Delaware River, attempted to
intercept them. Sergeant Ebenezer Wild, 1st Massachusetts Regiment, Glovers Brigade, described provisioning
problems at Hopewell on June 23rd, This morning at 5 oclk the General [a drum call] was beat, & we turned out &
got ready to march. About 7 oclk we marched off, but left all our tents standing & our heavy baggage behind
us. We marched about 10 miles, & halted on the road about 4 hours, & turned into a field to cook provision, & had
orders to march at 11 oclk at night what little time we had to sleep we slept in the open field, which was only
from 11 oclk at night till 4 in the morning. The reason we did not march at 11 oclk was because we could not get
provision till late. Difficulties continued. On the 26 th Varnums Brigade was sent forward under General Lee, but
before they left Sergeant Jeremiah Greenman, 2nd Rhode Island Regiment, noted that the main army, pushed on
as far as a small town cal'd Crambury ware we stayed three owers & drawed sum provision. Sergeant Wild, also
with Washingtons main army, wrote the same day About half after --- oclk we began our march and marched
about 5 miles, and halted in the road & drew two days allowance of pork & flour. We cooked our
provision. Between 4 & 5 oclk we began our march again From Cranbury 45 m[inutes] past 9 O'Clock A.M.,
of 26 June General Washington wrote the Marquis de Lafayette, I am now arrived here with the Head of our line
The Troops here are suffering for want of provision, as well as those with you, and are under the necessity of
halting, till they are refreshed.5
Three detachments of picked men (including Lees) were sent forward on three successive days (24 to 26 June). At
least one of them seems to have taken provision wagons along, Lt. Col. Henry Dearborn, Cilleys battalion, BrigadierGeneral Charles Scotts detachment, noting on the 25th, this morning we march.d within 5 miles of the Enimy - &
Halted & Drew Provision. The same day as Dearborns diary entry another detachment commanded by Lafayette
pushed ahead to pursue the British, and by 26 June this swiftly moving force was held back due to lack of food. Lt. Col.
Alexander Hamilton wrote from "Robins Tavern 8 Miles from Allen Town 12 Oclock [AM] We have halted the
troops at this place. The enemy, by our last reports, were four miles from this (that is their rear) ... Our reason for halting
is the extreme distress of the troops for want of provisions - General Wayne's detachment is almost starving - and seem
both unwilling and unable to march further till they are supplied - If we do not receive an immediate supply, the whole
purpose of our detachment must be frustrated ..." General Washington reassured Lafayette, Dear Marquis: I received
your favors of last night and this morning. I have given the most positive and pointed orders for provisions for your
Detachment and am sorry that they have not arrived. In order that the Troops may be supplied, I wish you would
always send up an Active Officer in time to the Commissary, who might never leave him till he obtained the
necessary supplies. This will be attended with more certain relief than by writing by common expresses. The
commander in chief continued with some advice. Tho giving the Enemy a stroke is a very desireable event, yet I
would not wish you to be too precipitate in the measure or to distress your men by an over hasty march. The
Weather is extremely warm and by a too great exertion in pushing the Troops, many of them will fall sick and be
rendered entirely unfit for Service. I am etc. In a 9:45 AM postscript Washington informed Lafayette, Your
provision is on the Road, and an 8 PM missive directed the Marquis to move to Englishtown to join Lees and
Scotts troops, one reason being that when the several detachments form a junction the supplies of provisions
will be rendered more easy and certain.6
Bernardus Swartwout, a gentleman-volunteer with Lees Advance Force, gives the only account found of food issued
on the day of the Monmouth battle. At Englishtown on the morning of the 28 th We drew rum & provisions were
ordered to march not having time to prepare our provisions or eating With the main army on the 27th Sergeant
Wild made no mention of food, having cooked two days rations on the previous day, but did record, This morning
at 5 oclk the General beat. We got up fell in to our arms and were counted off in order to march. We drew a gill of
whiskey a man, and about 7 oclk we began our march, and marched about 4 miles & stopped in the road to rest and
get water. After stopping about a half an hour we marched again about a mile further, and it being excessive hot, we
halted again. Water was always important, but alcohol, an intermittent part of the official ration, was particularly
issued to soldiers undergoing strenuous duty, or serving in harsh weather conditions. Troops on both sides
desperately needed liquid refreshment before, during, and after the Battle of Monmouth. On the morning of the
battle General Lees advance force confronted the British at Monmouth Courthouse, then retreated back towards
Englishtown. General Washington met part of Lees detachment as they approached. Confronting Graysons and
Pattons Additional Regiments, whose troops were very much fatigued [the heat was recorded at 96 degrees], and had
been ordered off to refresh themselves, the commander in chief asked one officer to take his men into a wood near at
hand, as they were exceedingly heated and fatigued, and to draw some rum for them, and to keep them from straggling.
Writing the day after the battle, Maryland Colonel Otho Holland Williams noted, The day was intensely hot and many

of our men fainted by the way vinegar & water kept me from a similar fate. Williams wrote of June 29th, the troops
are now taking refreshment 7
The first post-battle food issue was mentioned in the June 30th general order, which directed that The troops are to be
completed with Provision for tomorrow and have it cooked to day. The whole Army except Maxwell's Brigade is to
move at two o'clock tomorrow morning, and every thing is to be in the most perfect readiness to night. Since these
were marching rations, two days provisions must have been doled out to all the troops early on the 28 th.

1. 1778 Continental Army ration. The food allotment was set at Valley Forge on 16 April, "A ration for the future, shall
consist of 1 1/2 lb. flour or bread ... 1 lb. of Beef or Fish, or 3/4 lb. Pork, and one gill of whiskey or Spirits, or 1 1/2 lb.
Flour or Bread, 1/2 lb. Pork, or Bacon, 1/2 pint Pease, or Beans, one gill of Whiskey or Spirits. Four months later the
allotment was amended, That the whole army may be served with the same ration the Commissary Genl. is, till further
orders, to issue as follows: One pound 1/4 flour, or soft bread, or 1 lb. of hard bread; 18 oz. beef, fresh or salt; 1 lb. pork,
or 1 lb. of fish, & 2 oz. butter; a gill of rum or whiskey, when to be had; the usual allowance of soap and Candles.
George Weedon, Valley Forge Orderly Book of General George Weedon of the Continental Army under Command of
Genl. George Washington, in the Campaign of 1777-8 (New York, N.Y., 1971), 291. General orders, 6 August 1778,
"Jacob Turner's Book", Walter Clark, ed., The State Records of North Carolina, XII, 1777-1778 (Wilmington, N.C.,
1993), 526. Nathanael Greene to Henry Hollingsworth, 31 May 1778, Richard K. Showman, ed., The Papers of General
Nathanael Greene, vol. II (Chapel Hill, N.C., 1980), p. 417. Greene to Moore Furman, 23 June 1778, Richard K.
Showman, ed., The Papers of General Nathanael Greene, vol. II (Chapel Hill, N.C., 1980), p. 443. Washington to
Horatio Gates, 27 June 1778, John C. Fitzpatrick, ed., The Writings of George Washington from the Original
Manuscript Sources 1745-1799, vol. 12 (Washington, D.C., 1934), 139 (hereafter cited as Fitzpatrick, WGW).
2. George Washington to Nathanael Greene, 17 May 1778, Richard K. Showman, ed., The Papers of General Nathanael
Greene, vol. II (Chapel Hill, N.C., 1980), pp. 392-393. Greene to George Weedon, , Richard K. Showman, ed., The
Papers of General Nathanael Greene, vol. II (Chapel Hill, N.C., 1980), pp. 472-473.
3. General orders, 27 May 1778, Washington's "Instructions to Major General Lee," 30 May 1778, Fitzpatrick, WGW,
vol. 11, (1934), 463-464, 489-490.
4. William Maxwell to Washington, 5 June 1778; Maxwell to Philemon Dickinson, 19 June 1778, George Washington
Papers, Presidential Papers Microfilm (Washington, D.C.: Library of Congress, 1961), series 4, reel 49, (hereafter cited
as GW Papers). Maxwell (from Maidenhead, New Jersey, 9 A.M.) to Washington, 24 June 1778; Richard Howell to
Maxwell, 24 June 1778, ibid., series 4, reel 50.
5. "Journal of Ebenezer Wild," Proceedings of the Massachusetts Historical Society, 2nd series, vol. VI (Boston, Ma.,
1891), 108-111 (hereafter cited as "Journal of Ebenezer Wild," PMHS). Robert C. Bray and Paul E. Bushnell, eds., Diary
of a Common Soldier in the American Revolution: An Annotated Edition of the Military Journal of Jeremiah Greenman,
(DeKalb, Il., 1978), 120-124. Washington to Lafayette, 26 June 1778, Fitzpatrick, WGW, vol. 12, (1934), 121-122.
6. Lloyd A. Brown and Howard H. Peckham, eds., Revolutionary War Journals of Henry Dearborn, 1775-1783
(Chicago: The Caxton Club, 1939; reprinted Bowie, Md.: Heritage Books, Inc., 1994), 123-126. Alexander Hamilton to
Washington, 26 June 1778, GW Papers, series 4, reel 50. Washington to Lafayette, 26 June 1778 (two letters),
Fitzpatrick, WGW, vol. 12, (1934), 121-122.
7. Bernardus Swartwout Diary (2nd New York Regiment), 10 November 1777-9 June 1783, Bernardus Swartwout
Papers, New-York Historical Society, 4. "Journal of Ebenezer Wild," PMHS, 108-111. Testimony of Lt. Col. Tilghman,
"Proceedings of a General Court Martial ... for the Trial of Major General Lee. July 4th, 1778 ...," The Lee Papers,
vol. III, 1778-1782, Collections of the New-York Historical Society for the Year 1873 (New York, 1874), 79-80.
O.H. Holland Williams to Phil Thomas, 29 June 1778, General Otho Holland Williams Papers, Maryland Historical
Society. Courtesy of Michael Adelberg and Garry W. Stone.