Gunston-Hall April I9th. 1777.
As there were five Vessels loading upon Continental Acct. at Alexandria; upon Rect. of yours Capt. Rigg, I send him, with his Vessel, to the Mouth of Quantico Creek, wth. a Letter to Mr. Carr of Dumfries, desiring him to dispatch him with the Flour you wrote me you had bought of Mr. Pickett, or any other which Mr. Carr himself might have purchased. I have since had a Letter from Mr. Carr, informing [me] that very little of Mr. Picke[t]e's Flour had yet come down, that he had sent an Express to hasten it; but was apprehensive it wou'd be difficult to get Wageners to bring it to Dumfries, on Acct. of the Small Pox there. In the mean time, the Vessel is taking in two or three hund[red]. Barr[e]ls. from Colchester, & will have all the Dispatch, which under these Circumstances, can be given her.
Yesterday Mr. Muir brought me yr. favour of the 11th. Inst. I had before put the flour-Business, at Alexandria, into the Hands of Mr. Wm. Herbert, a Gentleman in whom I think the Public may safely confide. He will correspond with you on the Subject, & transmit you Copys of the Invoyce Bills of Loading &c. I found Mr. Muir so much addicted to Liquor, tho' otherwise very diligent, that I was afraid to leave so important an Affair in his Hands. Very little flour comes down from Colo. Peyton or Mr. Tayler; so that Mr. Herbert must depend chiefly upon purchasing, & for want of Cash, is upon very unequal Terms with the ready Money purchasers, of which there are several in Alexandria; the Farmers & Millers here have been accustomed to receive ready Money, & will not part with their Commoditys without it, except a few particular People, who make a point of prefering the Public, so that the Purchase (which at any Rate will be much impeded by the small pox in Alexandria) will go heavily on; unless Mr. Herbert's Hands are speedily strength'ned.
Colo Peyton & Mr. Tayloe never send any Accts of the Price of their Flour; which renders it impossible to make out the Invoyce of the Vessel's Cargoes with precision.
Mr. Muir has loaded two Vessels, Capt. Doane & Capt Perkins: I have desired him to transmit the Invoyces &c. to you Post. He complains much of being considerably in advance for their Cargoes; which sets the heavier upon him, as the Business is now taken out of his Hands. He will send you a Copy of his Acct. & I must beg that the Bal[an]ce. due to him may be imediatly paid; as I think my Credit, in some Measure, engaged therein. I shall always be extreamly ready to do everything in my Power to expedite the Public Business; but it never was my Intention to take a farthing for any Trouble I have been about the Continental flour Vessels.
The small Pox being at almost every one of our public Warehouses renders a Tobo. purchase here, at this time, very difficult, but no Pains that can be taken, shall be spared; the Price has risen, the Buyers lately given 25/ & some of them privately 27/; Yet I hope to make the public Purchase at 25/ & 5/ for Caske. It can't be expected that a Planter who sells a few Hhds. will take an Ord[e]r. for his Money on Wmsburg; & those who live at a Distance will not come down here a second time, when by selling to private Purchasers, they can take this Money Home with them. Those who hold large Quantitys still keep their Tobo. up, upon mere Speculation. These Circumstances render ready Money absolutely necessary in this Purchase.
I am Dr Sir Yr. most obdt. Sert.