From Diary of the American Revolution, Vol I. Compiled by Frank Moore and published in 1859.
December 31. –The neglect of some of the people of Jersey and Pennsylvania, to supply clothing and necessaries to the army at Valley Forge, in accordance with the late requisition made by General Washington, creates much comment.1
Among the suggestions for relief is the following by Governor Livingston, published in this day’s gazette: –“I am afraid that while we are employed in furnishing our battalions with clothing, we forget the county of Bergen, which alone is sufficient amply to provide them with winter waistcoats and breeches, from the redundance and superfluity of certain woollen habits, which are at present applied to no kind of use whatsoever. It is well known that the rural ladies in that part of New Jersey, pride themselves in an incredible number of petticoats; which, like house furniture, are displayed by way of ostentation, for many years before they are decreed to invest the fair bodies of the proprietors. Till that period they are never worn, but neatly piled up on each side of an immense escritoire, the top of which is decorated with a most capacious brass-clasped Bible, seldom read. What I would, therefore, humbly propose to our superiors, is to make prize of these future female habiliments, and, after proper transformation, immediately apply them to screen from the inclemencies of the weather those gallant males who are now fighting for the liberties of their country. And to clear this measure from every imputation of injustice, I Have only to observe, that the generality of the women in that county, having for above a century worn the breeches, it is highly reasonable that the men should now, and especially upon so important an occasion, make booty of the petticoats.”2
1 Letter of Francis Mercer.
2 New Jersey Gazette, December 21.