George Washington Papers

Council of War, 2 November 1775

Council of War

[Cambridge, 2 November 1775]

At a Council of General Officers held at Head Quarters in Cambridge 2d November 1775.


  • His Excellency General Washington
  • Majors General Ward, Lee, Putnam
  • Brigadiers General Thomas, Heath, Spencer, Sullivan, Green, Gates

The General acquainted The Council that it had been resolved at a meeting held with a Committee from the Continental Congress, and The Governours of The Adjacent Colonies, That such Officers as have served in the present Army to approbation, and are willing to Stay, be preferred. If there are more of those than are necessary for the New Army, The General to distinguish such as he deems best Qualified—It was also at the aforesaid meeting further agreed, that it should be proposed to the Officers now serving in The Continental Army, that they Signify which of them will continue to serve, & Defend their Country; & which of them retire; & that such Officers as propose to continue in the Service, & are approved of by The General, proceed to Inlist their men in the Continental Service, upon the same pay, & allowance of provisions, as is now given.1

In consequence of These Resolutions, His Excellency Signified his wishes, that The General Officers composing this Council, as they are much better acquainted with The Characters & Merits of the Several Officers of the Army, than He is; would Aid Him in the Choice; whereupon it was agreed, that the following persons should be Nominated for Colonels to Command the Regiments of The New Army—Viz.

1 Thompson 2 Read2
3 Larned 4 Nixon
5 Stark 6 Brewers
7 Prescot 8 Poor
9 Varnum nopad 10 Parsons
11 Hitchcocks 12 Little
13 Reed3 14 Glover
15 Patterson 16 Sergeant
17 Huntington 18 Phinney
19 Webb 20 Arnold
21 Ward 22 Wyllys
23 Baileys 24 Greaton
25 Bond 26 Baldwin
27 Hutchinson4

The Council then agreed with His Excellency The Commander in Chief in the Nomination of The following undernam’d Persons for Lieutenant Colonels.

1 Holden 2 Hand
3 Gillman 4 Nixon
5 Buckminster 6 Brown
7 Putnam 8 McDuffy
9 Green 10 Tyler
11 Cornwall5 12 Alden
13 Sheppard 14 Clap
15 Johonnot 16 Read
17 Poor 18 Moulton
19 March 20 Enos
21 Jacobs 22 Vose
23 Durkee 24 Hanshaw
25 Tupper 26 Clark
27 Hall

The Council proceeded next to The Nomination of the undernam’d persons for Majors, Viz.

1 Hale 2 McGaw
3 Cadworth6 4 Wood7
5 Silly 6 Carary8
7 Prentice 8 Angel
9 Sherbourne 10 Sprout
11 Collins 12 Putnam
13 Smith 14 Lee
15 Brooks 16 Austin
17 D. Wood9 18 Brown10
19 Loring 20 Biggelow
21 Wesson 22 Jackson
23 Meggs11 24 Coburn
25 Humphreys 26 Nolton12
27 Hayton13

The Council then proceeded to place the Field Officers in Corps in the Following manner Viz:

 Colonels  Lt. Colonels  Majors
Thompson Hand Macgaw14
Read Gillman Hale
Larnard Sheppard Sprout
Nixon Nixon Cobourn
Stark Poor Moore15
Brewer16 Buckminster Cudworth17
Prescot Moulton H: Wood
Poor Macduffy Silly
Varnum Green Carary18
Parsons Tyler Prentice
Hitchcock Conwall Angel
Little Hanshaw Collins
Read Clap Smith
Glover Johonnot Lee
Patterson Read Sherbourne
Sergeant Enos19 Austin
Huntington Clark Humphreys
Phinney March Wood20
Webb Hall Brooks
Arnold Durkee Knoulton
Ward Tupper Biggelow
Wyllys Putnam Meggs21
Bailey Jacobs Hayden
Greaton Vose Loring
Bond Alden Jackson22
Baldwin Brown Wesson23
Hutchinson Holden Putnam

The Council then resolved, that the Brigadier Generals of The Army, do call together the Field Officers in each Brigade now appointed to serve under The New Establishment, and they to Select out of those Captains, & Subalterns, who have return’d, their Names willing to continue in Service; so many as can be well recommended, the others to be rejected. attention to be paid to Those who are absent upon Furlough, or Command, the First of Those, to undergo the same Scrutiny, as those who give in their Names. if there are any Officers that have not return’d their Names, but are now willing to serve, & can be well recommended, their Names to be return’d, also the best Sergeants. A Return of all The Officers, the Regiments to which they belong, and their former Rank, to be made to The Commander in Chief, that they may be Formed into Regiments.

It appearing from information, that Several of the Inhabitants of the Town of Boston, are desirous of leaving that place, & had obtained passes for that purpose, arising perhaps from a proclamation of General Howes, which seems to have a Tendency to Compel the Towns people to take up Arms, to aid the Ministerial Troops in subverting the Rights, & Liberties of America;24 & it also appearing from information, that the Small Pox is, at this Time in many parts of The Town of Boston, His Excellency desired to know whether, under these circumstances, it is prudent to suffer Any of the Inhabitants of the said Town, to be Transported to Chelsea, by the Way of Winnissimit Ferry?

As the Situation of American Affairs with respect to Great Britain, may such, as to render it indispensably necessary, to attempt to Destroy the Ministerial Troops in the Town of Boston, before they can be reinforced in the Spring; even if it should be by Bombarding, & Firing the Town, is it advisable to Erect any kind of Works upon Dorchester point, before Frost setts in; & what kind?

What proportion of pay are persons of Nonage & Apprentices to draw?

In our present Scarcity of powder, had not our morning Gun better be discontinued?

What is to be done with Mrs Inman if she comes out, see her Letter.25

D, in Horatio Gates’s writing, DLC:GW; Varick transcript, DLC:GW.

2James Reed.

3Joseph Read.

4Gates wrote a second set of numbers next to the last three names, making these entries read “26. 25 Bond 27. 26 Baldwin 25. 27 Hutchinson.” If this was a suggested revision of the precedence of these three colonels, it was not adopted. Their regiments were numbered in the original order indicated here.

5Ezekiel Cornell.

6Nathaniel Cudworth.

7Henry Woods.

8Archibald Crary.

9Daniel Wood.

10Although Jacob Brown is omitted from the regimental list below, he became major of Col. Edmund Phinney’s 18th Continental Infantry.

11Return Jonathan Meigs.

12Thomas Knowlton.

13Josiah Haden.

14Robert Magaw became colonel of the 5th Pennsylvania Regiment on 3 Jan. 1776. Anthony James Morris served as major of the 1st Continental Infantry.

15John Moore does not appear on the list of majors above.

16Jonathan Brewer yielded command of his regiment to Asa Whitcomb. See General Orders, 16 Nov. 1775.

17Nathaniel Cudworth became major of Col. William Bond’s 25th Continental Infantry, and John Grizzage Frazer filled this slot.

18Archibald Crary became lieutenant colonel of this regiment when it was learned that Christopher Greene had been captured at Quebec on 31 Dec. 1775. Christopher Smith replaced Crary as major.

19Roger Enos was replaced as lieutenant colonel of this regiment by Michael Jackson.

20Daniel Wood became major of Col. Loammi Baldwin’s 26th Continental Infantry, and Jacob Brown took his place in this regiment.

21Return Jonathan Meigs was captured at Quebec on 31 Dec. 1775. Levi Wells replaced him as major of this regiment.

22Nathaniel Cudworth took this position when Michael Jackson became lieutenant colonel of Col. Paul Dudley Sargent’s 16th Continental Infantry.

23James Wesson became lieutenant colonel of this regiment when Abijah Brown declined to serve. Daniel Wood took Wesson’s place.

24Gen. William Howe’s proclamation of 28 Oct. recommending that the inhabitants of Boston form volunteer military companies for service “within the Precincts of the Town” is printed in the New-England Chronicle: or, the Essex Gazette (Cambridge, Mass.), 2 Nov. 1775.

25Letter not identified.

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