Adams Papers

The Board of War to the Officer in Charge of Hessian Prisoners, 16 September 1777

The Board of War to the Officer in Charge of Hessian Prisoners

Philadelphia Septr. 16. 1777


I am directed by the Board of War to desire you, to deliver to Coll. Bird1 forty of the Hessian Prisoners2 in your Custody, to work with him as Artifficers and Labourers, if they consent. I am your humble sevt.,

John Adams Chairman

RC in JA’s hand (DLC); docketed: “Order from Warr Office 16th Septr. 1777 to deliver 40 Hessians to Col. Bird.”

1Col. Mark Bird, who ran a cannon foundry in Berks co. (JCC description begins Worthington C. Ford and others, eds., Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774–1789, Washington, 1904–1937; 34 vols. description ends , 8:495–496; Morton L. Montgomery, “Early Furnaces and Forges of Berks County, Pennsylvania,” PMHB description begins Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography. description ends , 8:60 [March 1884]).

2Hundreds of German mercenaries had been captured at the Battle of Trenton and had been sent to Lancaster, Penna., where they were guarded by militia but permitted to be hired out to work on the farms for pay. Late in August, because of the approach of the British, the prisoners were scattered about in such towns as Reading, Carlisle, and Lebanon (Lucy Leigh Bowie, “German Prisoners in the American Revolution,” Md. Hist. Mag. description begins Maryland Historical Magazine. description ends , 40:187–188 [Sept. 1945]).

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