George Washington Papers

From George Washington to the Board of War, 15 November 1776

To the Board of War

Heckenseck [N.J.]1 Nov. 15th 1776


Having given my promise to Genl Howe on his application, that Peter Jack, a Servant of Major Stewart, who was sent to Philadelphia with the Waldeckers and, other Prisoners & who has nothing to do in the Military line, should be returned to his Master agreable to the usage of War in such cases,2 I must take the liberty to request the favor of you, to have him conveyed to Genl Greene by the earliest Opportunity, that he may be forwarded to his Master in compliance with my promise.

I also wish, that you would have all the British Prisoners collected that you conveniently can and sent to me, as soon as possible, with the Hessian Prisoners, that I may exchange them. The return of the latter I think will be attended with many salutary consequences, but should It be made without that of a large proportion of other Troops, It will carry the marks of design, and occasion precautions to be taken to prevent the ends we have in view. I have the Honor to be Gentn Yr Most Obed. Servt

Go: Washington

LS, in Robert Hanson Harrison’s writing, DNA:PCC, item 152; copy, DNA:PCC, item 169.

1Sometime after the writing of GW’s first letter to the Board of War of this date, GW left Fort Lee and went to Hackensack about six miles west of the fort. He apparently planned to spend the night there and proceed the next day to Perth Amboy or New Brunswick, but the arrival at Hackensack of Greene’s letter to GW of this date obliged GW to return to Fort Lee this evening to deal with the unanticipated crisis at Fort Washington that ended in the fort’s surrender the next day (see that letter, GW to Hancock, 16 Nov., and Greene to Robert Magaw, this date, in Greene Papers description begins Richard K. Showman et al., eds. The Papers of General Nathanael Greene. 13 vols. Chapel Hill, N.C., 1976–2005. description ends , 1:350). GW did not foresee that crisis because he thought that only “a small part” of Howe’s force would be employed in besieging Fort Washington (GW to Hancock, 14 Nov.), and Colonel Magaw had assured him and Greene that the garrison could hold out through December (see Greene to GW, 9 November). GW’s principal concerns when he left Fort Lee on this date apparently were the defense of New Jersey against a possible British incursion and the blocking of the road to Philadelphia, which ran through New Brunswick (see GW to John Augustine Washington, 6–19 Nov., and GW to Hancock, 14 November).

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