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Provisions in North America, 1759
Whilst conducting some research in the Public Records Office, London; I came across the following letter contained in the Treasury files ( Reference T 1/389 ):
( Letter ) Recd. from Mr. Chauncey Townsend, Nov.23rd 1759.
The carriage from New York to Albany is easy by water, in large vefsels of 40 or 50 tons each; and tho' it is at least 160 miles within land, the expence at most does not amount to above one shilling pr. hundred weight.
The Grand Station from Albany westward, is to Oswego, about 260 miles; the carriage to which is partly by land and partly by water. The land carriage in the whole amounts to about 26 miles, in four several carrying places. The water carriage is difficult and tedious, as it is for the most part thro' narrow Rivers and Creeks, incumbered with numberlefs Falls, Rapids, Shoals and Rocks. And from the best calculation I have been able to make the cost of it will amount to about 20 s. pr. hundred weight.
From Oswego to Niagara, or to Frontinac, or to La Gallette, the carriage may be rendered very easy, as it is over a fine lake, and deep water, provided the managers of it build proper vefsels on the lake for the purpose.
The next Grand Station from Albany is northwards to Fort Edward, Lake George, Ticonderoga, Crown Point and Lake Champlain; all this carriage is of a mixt kind, in some places by water, and some by land, as the nature of the country best admits of; but, from the computations I have made, the expence of Transportation from Albany woll amount nearly as follows :
To Fort Edward 9 s. per hundred weight.
To Lake George 11 s. per hundred weight.
To Ticonderoga 13 s. per hundred weight.
To Crown Point 14 s. per hundred weight.
The next great object of carriage in North America is from Philadelphia to Fort du Quesne, which is about 312 miles, and all land carriage; by the best estimate I have been able to make of the expence, the carriage will amount to about 25 s. per hundred weight.
N.B. 8 s. per hundred weight makes nearly two pence per man per day.
These are the only great objects in the affair of carriage in North America; and the advantages of a Contractor for the carriage as well as provisions would be these, He may collect the provisions nearer to their Destination, than at the places named, and consequently would have lefs carriage to pay for. He may, when the season is favourable, supply the Forces in meat kind by means of live cattle, which will also considerably lefsen His expence of carriage.
But there are also many Disadvantages in His supplying provisions at all the distant posts, to wit, The waste of provisions by carriage, which in the Bread kind has been found to be enormous. The Damage and lofs of provisions by sudden showers, the heat of the sun, oversetting of Boats, and many other accidents, all which ( excepting captures by the enemy ) I suppose he must bear the lofs of.
Copyright Access Heritage Inc (formerly The Discriminating General) 1998