"My Last Shift Betwixt Us and Death": The Ephraim Blaine Letterbook, 1777-1778


Among the many forgotten heroes of the American Revolution are the commissaries, the hundreds of men who worked to supply the fighting men with arms, clothing and food. Consider the difficulties in supplying an army of more than 17,000 men in an era when transportation and communication could only be conducted by horseback or wagon, and preservative techniques were completely unknown.

One of the most persevering commissaries in feeding the Continental Army was Ephraim Blaine of Carlisle, Pennsylvania. The letterbook which bears his name is a revealing record of the material resources and manpower necessary for supplying the soldiers encamped at Valley Forge and Wilmington, Delaware. The original letterbook contains 315 documents, all of which are included. The majority were actually written by Blaine’s assistant, John Chaloner.

The preface to the text provides a brief history of the Commissary Department describing its creation and its many internal problems. A full-name index adds to the value of this work.

Joseph Lee Boyle

(2001, 2004), 2016, 5½x8½, paper, index, 240 pp.

ISBN: 9780788417764