George Washington Papers

From George Washington to Major General Artemas Ward, 16 June 1776

To Major General Artemas Ward

New York June 16. 1776


I am now to acknowledge the receipt of your favors of the 27 Ulto & of the 3 & 6 Instant and in Answer to the 1st think you was right in your direction to Mr Bartlett about the Brigantine Hannah as Mr Morris had wrote for one—The two schooners, considering their force & number of men certainly behaved extremely well in repelling the Attack made by such a number of boats, and It is only to be lamented, that the affair was attended with the death of Captn Mugford—he seemed to deserve a better fate.1

The determination of the Court of Inquiry upon Colo. Varnum’s complaint transm[itte]d in that of the 3d, is very different from what he expected or I immagined it would be from his state of the case—Whether It is right or wrong, It is not in my power to determine, as the Evidence which was before them is not Inserted in the proceedings, which ought to have been, as I at this distance can have no other means to warrant me, either in confirming or rejecting the Sentence—I cannot but add that It seems extraordinary to me and exceedingly strange, that Captn Lane should have been at so much trouble and expence to get the men without having a right to ’em—For which reason, to discountenance a practice extremely pernicious in Its nature, of one Officer trying to take away & seduce the men of another and on account of the Imperfection in the proceedings in not stating the matter fully & the whole evidence; The Complaint should be reheard and every thing appertaining to It, the manner of Inlistment &c. particularly specified for me to found my Judgemt on.2

The Arms &c. which you sent to Norwich, as mentioned in the Invoice contained in that of the 6th are not arrived—The number of Carbines is only half of what Genl Putnam wrote for as I have been Informed, and It is less by three hundred than I directed to be sent in my Letter from Philadelphia of the 28 Ulto. This I suppose had not come to hand when you wrote, as you have not acknowledged the receipt of It.3

I have Inclosed two Letters for Majr Small & Chs Proctor Esqr. supposed to be at Hallifax which being wrote with a design to procure the inlargement of Capn Proctor a prisoner on board the Mercury man of War or Induce them to Intercede for a more humane Treatment to be shewn him, I request you to forward by the first Opportunity by way of Nova Scotia.4

I am this moment favoured with yours of the 9 Inst. advising me of the Capture made by our Armed Vessells of one of the Transports with a Company of Highlanders on board—and I flatter myself If our Vessells keep a good look out, as the whole Fleet are bound to Boston which sailed with her, that more of them will fall into our hands—This is a further proof that Governmt expected Genl Howe was still in Boston.

I am extremely sorry that your health is more & more impaired and having heard by a Letter from Col. Hancock that Mr Whitcombe, Col. Whitcomb’s Brother, is appointed a Brigr Genl, I shall order him to relieve you as soon as I am informed that he accepts his Commission and If he does you may immediately call [him] to your assistance before I am certified of his acceptance,5 this will ease you of some trouble ’till I can regulate a few matters of Importance here which I hope to do in a little time.


LB, in Robert Hanson Harrison’s writing, DLC:GW; Varick transcript, DLC:GW.

1For Robert Morris’s request for a vessel to carry letters to Europe for the Secret Committee of Congress and Ward’s direction to William Bartlett to make the Little Hannah available for that purpose, see Ward to GW, 27 May, and note 1. For accounts of the British attack on the American armed schooners Franklin and Lady Washington and Capt. James Mugford’s death, see Ward to GW, 20 and 27 May.

2For a discussion of the dispute between Capt. John Lane of Col. James Mitchell Varnum’s regiment and Lt. Daniel Merrill of Col. Edmund Phinney’s regiment over the enlistment of new recruits, see GW to Ward, 13 May 1776, n.1. For Ward’s further action on this case, see his letters to GW of 23 and 30 June and 4 July.

3Israel Putnam requested Ward in late May to send to New York all one thousand of the carbines that had been captured recently aboard the British transport Hope (see Ward to GW, 17 May, and note 1, and Putnam to GW, 27 May 1776). In GW’s letter to Ward of 28 May, which Ward received on 8 June, GW asked that 800 of those weapons be sent to New York. Ward replied to GW on 9 June that he would forward 300 carbines as soon as possible to supplement the 500 carbines already on their way to New York by way of Norwich.

4These enclosures have not been identified. John Small (1726–1796) was a brigade major on General Howe’s staff at Halifax. Commissioned an ensign in the 42d Regiment of Foot in 1747, Small served in America during the French and Indian War and became a captain in 1762. He was put on half pay when the war ended the following year, but he returned to full pay in 1765 as a captain in the 21st Regiment and was appointed a brigade major on the North American staff in 1767. In 1777 while still a brigade major, Small recruited a battalion of Highlander veterans in Nova Scotia. Initially designated as the 2d Battalion of the Royal Highland Emigrants (a Loyalist regiment), Small’s men were incorporated in the British army in 1779 as part of the 84th Regiment of Foot. Small was promoted to lieutenant colonel in 1780 and subsequently saw action with his battalion in South Carolina. He became a colonel in 1790 and a major general in 1794.

Capt. Francis Proctor (Procter; 1705–1792) and his artillery company were captured by the British warship Syren on 15 Mar. 1776 while sailing from Philadelphia to South Carolina. The previous fall Proctor joined his son Thomas Proctor’s company of Pennsylvania artillery as a lieutenant, and in December the Pennsylvania council of safety dismissed both Proctors for conduct unbecoming officers. By February 1776, however, Francis Proctor had raised an artillery company in Philadelphia for service in South Carolina. It was that company with which he was captured by the Syren the following month. Transferred a short time later to the Mercury, Proctor was taken to Halifax and confined in jail with Ethan Allen, James Lovell, and other American prisoners. In November 1776 Proctor was aboard the prison ship Glasgow in New York Harbor (James Lovell to Thomas Proctor, 5 Nov. 1776, in Clark and Morgan, Naval Documents description begins William Bell Clark et al., eds. Naval Documents of the American Revolution. 11 vols. to date. Washington, D.C., 1964—. description ends , 7:52). He was exchanged soon afterwards, and in March 1777 he became a captain in the 4th Continental Artillery. Proctor was dismissed from the army for misconduct on 14 May 1778 (see General Orders, that date).

5See Hancock to GW, 5–6 June. John Whitcomb declined the appointment.

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