Salt, in the 18th century, was the great preservative. When provisions were plentiful, all armies salted a supply; when provisions were scarce, they ate salted food or they starved. Washington urged the militia to cover and assist the removal of the supplies at Head of Elk. On the 27th he reported — over-optimistically as it turned out — that the task was nearing completion: "I am happy to inform you that all the public Stores are removed from thence, except about seven Thousand Bushels of corn. This I urged the commissary there to get off as soon as possible."