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STARK, JOHN. Letter Signed, as Brigadier General, to Major General Horatio Gates, complaining about remote garrisons and idle officers. 2 pages, 9 1/4x7 1/4 inches; apparently lacking an integral address leaf, minor foxing, mount remnant on left edge. Albany, NY, 9 June 1778
John Stark (1728-1822) served as a colonel of New Hampshire minutemen at Bunker Hill, and was a hero of the Battle of Bennington in 1777. He spent much of the war as commander of the Northern District, based in the frontier capital of Albany, NY. In this wide-ranging letter to his commanding officer, Stark demonstrates his signature frankness and sardonic humor. He begins with a passing reference to correspondence with his fellow northern leader, Colonel Ethan Allen, before moving on to a fraud investigation. Timothy Bedel, a militia colonel stationed on the far northern New Hampshire frontier, was suspected of claiming a much larger number of soldiers than he actually had, and skimming the excess pay and provisions (see Memoir and Official Correspondence of Gen. John Stark, page 166). Here Stark discusses sending his muster master Richard Varick to Coös County, NH to investigate: "The letters for Colo's Allen & Beedle are forwarded. I spoke to Colo. Varrick concerning sending a deputy to Co-os, who informed me that both of them were gone to headquarters & that he shall follow tomorrow." Next he discusses a small and apparently useless garrison of troops at the former Saratoga battle site: "As for the commisary at Saratoga, I cannot see the least necessity of it. There is no men there but a few mechanicks & Genl. Schuyler's guard. . . . The mechanicks are building batteaus, but I think if there is such a pressing necessity of batteaus they might be much cheaper built at Cueymans, as transporting provisions from here to Saratoga must be much more expensive than to transport timber from there here." Stark closes with commentary on the glut of idle military officers in Albany: "There is a great number of staff officers in this city & little or no employ. Would be glad you would order them to some place where they might have more business as there is scarce a man walks the street but bears a coccade & the provisions issued are amazing." Stark was later brevetted a Major General, and at the time of his death was the last surviving general of the Revolution.
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