George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Jonathan Trumbull, Sr., 23 January 1777

From Jonathan Trumbull, Sr.

Lebanon [Conn.] January 23d 1777


I most sincerely congratulate you upon the happy Success which has lately attended your Arms, which I have the pleasure to be informed of by your favour of the 10th Instant which came to Hand by Colo. Stewart this Afternoon.

I have not yet heard of any Money sent into this State by Congress to pay the Bounty to the new inlisted Troops, some small part of the 150,000 Dollars sent to Peeks Kill has, I believe, been distributed to some of our Colonels, tho’ by far the greatest part of the recruiting Officers are in the State lying still for want of Money to pay the promised Bounty, without which soldiers will not inlist—I am happy to hear you intend sending forward Money for this Service, for indeed it suffers for want of it, and Congress, amidst the Variety of Business that engages their Attention, seem to have forgot this necessary Step, altho’ the only Season, in which we can hope to fill up the new Army, is wasteing fast, and will soon be over. it would give me great pleasure to be able to advance the necessary Sums out of our Treasury; our Assembly have calculated their Funds only to satisfy such demands as were expected to be made upon it; and Money comes in no faster than we are obliged to issue it to pay such public Debts, as Justice will not permit to be delayed; the Continental Loan Office might be called in Aid, but unhappily the Checque Books & Loan Ticketts are not arrived, & the Loan Officer has not been able to do anything in this Office; In this Situation, no Money for this Service can be depended upon here—permit me to intreat your Excellency to forward the Necessary Sums without Delay, as little progress can be expected to be made in raising and equipping that Army, upon which our Defence, under God, depends, ’till a Supply for this purpose is received; some of the Battallions are partly filled, but the Bounty and Cloathing furnished by Congress are not furnished them—were this done, it would excite others to inlist, and I flatter myself the Troops might soon be raised & ready for Service.

Three Battallions of our Troops, engaged to serve till the 15th of March are gone to join General Heath, 16 Companies of Voluntiers are likewise marched, they are formed into a Battallion under the Command of Colo. Noadiah Hooker, are equal to a full Battallion in Number, and have engaged to continue in Service for the Term of two Months from their Inlistment1—one Battallion of our Troops engaged till the 15th of March are ordered to providence to assist in defending the State of Rhode Island against the Enemy stationed at Newport.2

I inclose you a Return of prisoners of War collected and sent to Newport agreable to your request.3 The Friends of the Officers and Soldiers now prisoners of war from this State, especially those confined in New-York are impatient for their Release, & with good Reason, as their sufferings there from Cold, Hunger, nakedness, Sickness, the want of every Necessary, & accumulated Insult beggar all Description, many incapable to support this Load of Suffering, have fell sacrifice to the rigour and Inhumanity of our polished Enemies, after having endured Hardships and Tortures incomparably more severe and excruciating than the wildest Savage would inflict upon his barbarous Foe, others by force of a Strong Constitution yet endure their Misery, they can endure but little longer, I hope your Humanity will relieve them before they fall Victims to the accursed policy of our inhuman Enemies. I am unable to mention all the Officers from this State now prisoners, I entreat your Excellency to effect their Exchange as soon as possible—Major Meigs & Capt. Hanchet were taken at Quebec, and are here on their parole, General Waterbury was taken on Lake Champlain Major Wells, Lieuts. Fitch Fanning & Cleaveland & Hopkins on Long-Island, Lieut. Colo. Heart, & Brigade Major Wyllys on York-Island.4 I beg leave to recommend these Gentlemen in particular to your Excellencys Care to have them exchanged, and generally all Officers and Soldiers from this State now prisoners of war; This Letter will be delivered to you by Brigade Major Wyllys who is out upon his parole for Thirty Days to procure his Exchange, I wish your Excellency to take Measures to prevent his return—Lt Hopkins is likewise out upon his parole for the like Purpose. I beg leave to propose he may [be] exchanged for a Lieut. McDermot of the 16th Regiment of british Troops now a prisoner in this State, if agreable, his parole admits of his release upon sending in a prisoner of equal Rank.

I am Sensible your Excellency needs no Arguments or Motives to induce you to effect the Exchange of our Prisoners in the speediest manner, yet I must intreat your pardon for just mentioning a Jealousy our Enemies endeavour to instill into our prisoners that the prisoners from the Southern States are taken better Care of than ours; and indeed, I fear, we in this State, inadvertently have failed in some Degree of doing all we ought to or might have done to procure their Discharge, which makes me more earnest, & perhaps too importunate to have it soon effected.

Should your Excellency find it necessary to raise another Battallion in this State, I beg leave to mention Jesse Root Esqr. of Hartford as a Gentleman well qualified for the Command, his Spirit & Zeal as well as his other Talents are surpassed by few Gentlemen in this State, the Battallion of Volunteers now in Service, of which he is Lieut. Colo. was raised at his request & by his Efforts; permit me likewise to recommend to your Notice the bearer Major Wyllys, a promising Youth, who bids fair to do Honour to the antient & honourable Family he is descended from, and is ambitious to continue in the service, his Captivity prevented his being provided for in the Battallions now raising in this State. I am, Sir with great Truth & regard your obedient humble Servant

Jonth; Trumbull

LS, DLC:GW; LB, Ct: Trumbull Papers.

1Noadiah Hooker of Farmington in Hartford County, Conn., was appointed a captain of Gen. Joseph Spencer’s 2d Connecticut Regiment on 1 May 1775, and the following December he became a captain in Col. Oliver Wolcott’s Connecticut State Regiment. In December 1776 the Connecticut committee of safety appointed Hooker colonel of the regiment of Connecticut militia volunteers raised to reinforce the Continental army in Westchester County, N.Y., and in March 1777 Hooker and some of his men volunteered for another term of service in the New York highlands after GW requested reinforcements for the Peekskill area (see GW to Trumbull, 6 March). In February 1778 Hooker was appointed colonel of a militia regiment raised for Connecticut’s defense, and he apparently retained that command at least until 1781.

2In December 1776 the Connecticut general assembly empowered the governor and council to send Col. John Ely’s militia regiment to Rhode Island to serve until 15 Mar. 1777 (see Hinman, Historical Collection description begins Royal R. Hinman, comp. A Historical Collection, from Official Records, Files &c., of the Part Sustained by Connecticut, during the War of the Revolution. Hartford, 1842. description ends , 261, 419, 429, and Joseph Spencer to GW, 30 Jan. 1777). Ely’s regiment partially filled Connecticut’s quota of 1,092 reinforcements for the Continental army in Rhode Island recommended by the committees of the New England states (see ibid., 261, and Joseph Spencer to GW, 30 January).

3The enclosed return, a copy of which GW sent to British commissary of prisoners Joshua Loring on 1 Feb., has not been identified.

4Return Jonathan Meigs, who had been major of the 2d Continental Regiment in 1775, and Oliver Hanchett (1741–1816) of Sheffield, a captain in that regiment, served on Arnold’s expedition against Quebec and were captured there on 31 Dec. 1775. They were among the prisoners that arrived at Elizabeth, N.J., from Quebec in early October 1776 (see the Connecticut Courant, and Hartford Weekly Intelligencer, 7 Oct. 1776). Jabez Fitch, Jr. (1737–1812), and Thomas Fanning (1750–1812), both of Norwich, and Charles Hopkins were among the numerous officers and men of the 17th Continental Regiment who were captured at the Battle of Long Island on 27 Aug. 1776 (see Force, American Archives description begins Peter Force, ed. American Archives. 9 vols. Washington, D.C., 1837–53. description ends , 5th ser., 3:715–18). Jabez Fitch, Jr., served as a first lieutenant in the 8th Connecticut Regiment from July to December 1775 and in the 17th Continental Regiment during 1776. Thomas Fanning served as quartermaster for the 8th Connecticut Regiment during 1775 and as a 2d lieutenant and quartermaster for the 17th Continental Regiment during 1776. Charles Hopkins, who was appointed adjutant with the rank of lieutenant of the 17th Continental Regiment on 1 Jan. 1776, served as a lieutenant in Col. Samuel Blachley Webb’s Additional Continental Regiment from 1 Jan. 1777 to his resignation on 23 Feb. 1779. William Cleaveland (Cleveland; 1752–1778) of Pomfret, Conn., Selah Heart of Farmington, Conn., and John Palsgrave Wyllys were captured during the retreat from New York on 15 Sept. 1776 and Wyllys was exchanged in March 1777 (see Joshua Loring’s list of American prisoners taken on the island of New York, September 1776, in DNA:PCC, item 152). William Cleaveland served as a sergeant in the 6th Connecticut Regiment during 1775 and as a 2d lieutenant in the 10th Continental Regiment during 1776. Selah Heart, who was appointed lieutenant colonel of Col. Fisher Gay’s Connecticut State Regiment in June 1776, served as brigadier general of the Connecticut militia from 1779 to the end of the war.

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