Our post from earlier this month about American shad ascending the Schuylkill above Norristown for the first time in nearly 200 years contained a fish story of a different sort, as we mentioned that George Washington (pictured above, on the banks of some other river besides the Schuylkill) may have fed his troops Schuylkill shad during trying Revolutionary times. According to the University of Virginia’s Papers of George Washington project, an article by Joseph Lee Boyle suggests whatever fish the troops were eating had been shipped in from other rivers:
“That shad were not in the Schuylkill by late March 1778 is evidenced by a letter Washington wrote to Francis Hopkinson at Bordentown, New Jersey. The Continental Navy Board had been ordered by Congress to move from there to Baltimore and Hopkinson offered some of the Navy’s stores to the General. Washington was “obliged to you for the trouble you have taken in removing the Stores and more so for the offer of the Rice, Oil and Fish….” The Marine Committee of Congress wrote to the Navy Board on 8 April, that they “approve of the offer you have made the General of Rice, Codfish and Oil for the use of the Army.”
Anyone interested in the history of shad should check out John McPhee’s book The Founding Fish.