Militia Veteran Signs Receipt for Providing Rye and Buckwheat to Continental Army at Newburgh
In this receipt, Christoffel Ostrander of Ulster County, New York, acknowledged receipt of $7 75/90 from Quartermaster General Timothy Pickering for providing rye and buckwheat, likely used for bread for the Continental Army. The receipt is in Pickering's hand and includes his signature in the text.
Fewer than two months later, an unsigned letter began circulating in the army camp at Newburgh calling for a meeting to send Congress an ultimatum regarding their pay. General George Washington squelched the "Newburgh Conspiracy" with a personal appeal to the officers for patience.
[REVOLUTIONARY WAR.] Timothy Pickering, Autograph Document, Signed in Text, Receipt to Timothy Pickering, January 25, 1783, [Newburgh, New York]. 1 p., 8" x 3.25". Trimmed irregularly; very good.
No. 370 January 25, 1783 Received of Timy Pickering QMG ⅌ D. Wolfe Seven dollars and Seventy five ninetieths in full for Rye & buckwheat d'd as ⅌ voucher having signed duplicate receipts.
7 75/90 Doll
Late in 1782, approximately 10,000 soldiers of the Continental Army were encamped in and around Newburgh, New York, from which they kept a wary watch over the British in New York City, fifty miles down the Hudson River. The officers under General George Washington's command were sullen and angry. While many civilians remained home, they camped in the snow. When civilians provided goods and services, as William Barnes did, they received prompt payment, while the officers awaited long-promised compensation.
By March 1783, soldiers and officers were unhappy that they had not been paid for some time and that promised pensions remained unfunded. On March 10, an anonymous letter began circulating in the army camp at Newburgh, calling for a meeting to send Congress an ultimatum. There was also an anonymous call for a meeting of all field officers on March 11. Washington responded to the call by calling it "disorderly" and "irregular" and called for a meeting of the officers on March 15, presided over by the senior officer present, and asked for a report of the meeting. When the officers gathered, Major General Horatio Gates opened the meeting. Then, Washington surprised all present by entering the building and asking to speak. A stunned Gates stood aside, and Washington gave a short, passionate address, counseling patience and asking the officers to stand by Congress. When he opened a letter from a member of Congress, he took a pair of reading glasses from his pocket. Few of the men present had seen him wear glasses. Washington said, "Gentlemen, you will permit me to put on my spectacles, for I have not only grown gray but almost blind in the service of my country," an acknowledgment that moved many of the officers to tears. The "Newburgh Conspiracy" collapsed, and the officers passed resolutions reaffirming their loyalty and condemning the anonymous proposals. The only voice raised in opposition was that of Colonel and Quartermaster General Timothy Pickering, who criticized his fellow officers for hypocrisy in condemning the anonymous letters that days earlier they had praised.
Congress passed an act for five years' full pay instead of a lifetime half-pay pension originally promised, but the new government redeemed the government bonds at full value in 1790. On April 19, 1783, Washington declared an end to hostilities against Great Britain in his General Orders of the day, and Congress ordered him to disband the army. Most of the Continental Army was furloughed over the next several months and formally disbanded in November 1783.
Christoffel Ostrander (1737-1813) was born in Ulster County, New York. He married Aaltje Romeyn in 1761, and they had eleven children. In 1771, he was one of the subscribers to build a new church at New Paltz, Ulster County. During the Revolutionary War, he served in the 4th Regiment of Ulster County militia, under the command of Colonel Johannis Hardenburgh. His name later appears as Christopher in claiming bounty land for Revolutionary War service.
Timothy Pickering (1745-1829) was born in Massachusetts and graduated from Harvard College in 1763. He represented Salem in the Massachusetts General Court and served as a justice in the County Court of Common Pleas. After leading a regiment early in the Revolutionary War, Pickering accepted George Washington's request to become adjutant general of the Continental Army in 1777. In 1780, the Continental Congress elected Pickering Quartermaster General. After the war, he tried several business ventures without much success. In 1787, he was a member of the Pennsylvania convention that ratified the U.S. Constitution. In 1791, President Washington appointed Pickering as Postmaster General. In 1795, he was made Secretary of War for a brief time, and then Secretary of State from 1795 to 1800. After Pickering objected to plans to make peace with France, President Adams dismissed him in May 1800. A passionate Federalist, Pickering represented Massachusetts in the U.S. Senate from 1803 to 1811 and in the House of Representatives from 1813 to 1817. Charged with reading confidential documents in an open Senate session, Pickering was censured by the Senate in January 1811. Failing to win re-election, Pickering retired to his farm in Salem, Massachusetts.
This item comes with a Certificate from John Reznikoff, a premier authenticator for both major 3rd party authentication services, PSA and JSA (James Spence Authentications), as well as numerous auction houses.
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