George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Samuel Chase, 23 January 1777

From Samuel Chase

Baltimore Town Jany 23. 1777


The Committee appointed by the enclosed Resolution of Congress, request your Excellency to appoint some Gentlemen of the State of New-Jersey to enquire into, and take the Depositions of credible Witnesses on, the several Matters containd in the Resolve, and to direct them to transmit the Testimony, as taken, to the Committee that they may report to Congress as soon as possible.1

The Committee have been informed that some of the Prisoners of the 17th or 55th Regiment, taken at Princeton, have said that their Major had given them Orders “to stand ’till they were cut to pieces and to take no Prisoners.” It is reported here that several of our Officers were Shot or stabbed with the Bayonet, after they had surrendered, Genl Mercer and Lieut. Yeates are mentioned among that Number; It is also said that several Bodies have been found in the Jersies hanging on Trees. I am, with great Respect, Your Excys most obedt Servt

Saml Chase

Sparks transcript, MH. Chase sent similar letters of this date to the New Jersey council of safety (PHi; see also Smith, Letters of Delegates description begins Paul H. Smith et al., eds. Letters of Delegates to Congress, 1774–1789. 26 vols. Washington, D.C., 1976–2000. description ends , 6:133–34) and the New York convention (N.Y. Prov. Congress Journals description begins Journals of the Provincial Congress, Provincial Convention, Committee of Safety, and Council of Safety of the State of New-York, 1775–1776–1777. 2 vols. Albany, 1842. (Microfilm Collection of Early State Records). description ends , 2:380–81).

1The letters sent to the New Jersey council of safety and to the New York convention read “some gentleman of your State.” The committee was appointed by Congress on 16 Jan. to inquire into the treatment of American prisoners of war by British and Hessian officers. In addition to Chase, the committee consisted of John Witherspoon, Abraham Clark, Francis Lewis, George Ross, Thomas Heyward, and William Smith. The enclosed copy of the resolution creating the committee has not been identified, but the resolution is printed in JCC description begins Worthington Chauncey Ford et al., eds. Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774-1789. 34 vols. Washington, D.C., 1904–37. description ends , 7:42–43. On 18 Jan. Congress ordered the resolution to be published, with the names of the committee members (ibid., 49), and it appeared in the Pennsylvania Packet (Philadelphia) on 11 Feb. 1777.

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