The British army mission in North America in 1765 was to occupy the new territory acquired in 1763 by the Treaty of Paris ending the Seven Years War. From 1765 to 1768 a minimum of fifteen regiments were stationed in various colonies. The regiments stationed in the west supported the Indian Department in its efforts to maintain peace with the tribes and enforced trade regulations. In performing its supportive role, the army became a heavy consumer as well; it was the largest source of money on the frontier in the form of bills of exchange for the colonial merchants. Total army annual expenditures in America were approximately £400,000 sterling including £5,000 to £33,000 sterling in presents for the Indians. A large percentage of the army’s purchases were made from colonial merchants in Canada, the Great Lakes, Pennsylvania, and Illinois. These expenditures absorbed nearly half the deficit of the balance of trade between the thirteen colonies and Great Britain.
Contemporary documents referred to the cost of the army as £400,000 sterling. Table 5.1 indicates a lower figure for the years 1764 to 1769, but I may have missed some expenses in creating the table. The pay and rations were established amounts for each regiment. Also included in this figure were uniforms, bedding, candles, and other routine expenses. Ordnance included replacement weapons, ammunition, and cannon. Other expense was a miscellaneous category, as was extraordinaries, which included the cost of repairing barracks and forts, transportation of troops and supplies, gifts to the Indians, and the overhead expense of the Indian Department. The army payments reduced the deficit in the balance of trade with Britain substantially.
The bills of exchange from the army expenditures helped considerably in balancing the huge deficit in the colonial trade with Britain. The £300,000 sterling surplus in the trade with southern Europe paid for most of the remaining deficit. The overall result was a manageable deficit until Parliament attempted