War Office 1, Volume 683, consists of letters, principally, from Lord George Germain, Secretary of State for the Colonies, to Lord Barrington, Secretary-at-War. They deal with military affairs in America and in the Islands of the West Indies during the American Revolution. Copies of correspondence from the Admiralty and many important schedules of papers, along with numerous other documents, provide insight into the conduct of the war and also supplement the military correspondence in other War Office classes. Much of the material in this volume concerns logistics and the readiness and movement of troops and their supplies.
The correspondence contains a great amount of detail about the transport of regiments, camp equipage, hospital supplies, horses and forage, clothing, and other provisions that were loading or had sailed from several British ports. Transport vessels are named, and in many cases their tonnage is also given along with the number of troops taken on board. The names or numbers of the regiments, the number of recruits in each rank, the ports of embarkation and destination, and the date are recorded. Some ships carried supplies and/or ordnance as well as troops, while others carried only troops, or stores.
In addition to the correspondence regarding the movement of troops and storeships, there are many other letters and documents of great interest. A few of these include: letters from commanders or governors in Florida and in the West Indies requesting supplies, medicines in particular, and describing the poor conditions of the troops in these areas; states of 10 British regiments under the command of Major-General Grant, 25 October 1778; lists of transports that have arrived in Barbados, 25 May 1780; lists of medicines sent to foreign service by location and date, 1779-1780; A Schedule of Papers Laid before the House of Lords, which contains among other records: states of the troops, return of British and German troops in Canada, account of men lost and disabled, general return of the hospitals for various dates in 1777 and 1778, general monthly returns of forces in Great Britain, general monthly returns for North America and the West Indies, return of recruits sent to North American, return of the greatest number of troops in 1775 and 1776, cost of the medicines for the Hessian hospitals attached to Sir William Howe's army, and many other records in this particular Schedule of Papers; letter stating that the King has ordered the Royal Highland Emigrants to be placed on the Establishment as a British Regiment, 20 November 1778; return of camp equipage for 30 regiments of infantry for the year 1780; a number of memorials from officers for pay and promotion; correspondence concerning the war in Florida, and the assistance of the Creek Indians, 1780; Dr. William Paine appointed apothecary to the General Hospital in New York, 11 November 1780; 100 men of the 71st Regiment to be sent to Newfoundland, 8 March 1781; and numerous other records.
Arrangement: There are a number of records for 1773-1775 among the 1780 letters, including a copy of Philip Skene's Commission as Governor of Crown Point and Ticonderoga, 8 June 1775. The first letter on the reel is dated 2 December 1776 and the last is 28 December 1781, but much of the material is not in strict chronological order, although there is a general chronological progression throughout the reel.