George Washington Papers

To George Washington from the New York Committee of Safety, 13 February 1777

From the New York Committee of Safety

State of New York. Fishkill feby 13th 1777


The Committee of Safety beg leave to request your Attention to the Exchange of certain Prisoners of War belonging to this State, Major Hetfield, Captain Van Dyck, Lieutenant Dunscomb & Adjutant Hooghland who all belonged to General Scotts Brigade.1 The Major was taken in the unfortunate Attempt on Montresors Island, the Captain in the Retreat, from New York on the 15th September and the Lieutenant and Adjutant on long Island so long ago as the 27th of August. While we are thus soliciting your Excellency in behalf of these unfortunate Gentlemen, we do not mean to insinuate the least Suspicion of an Inattention to their Case at Head Quarters. On the contrary the Committee of Safety are well convinced of your Equitable Design of negociating Exchanges with a referrence both to the respective Ranks of the Prisoners & the respective Times of their Captivity. But we have Reason to believe, (as we are informed, that many who were captivated at Fort Washington have already been exchanged, and as we know the Political Characters of the four unfortunate Gentlemen abovementioned must render them peculiarly Obnoxious to the Enemy,) that the Order of Exchange has been in some Measure inverted contrary to your Intention, and that many who have had the Art of insinuating themselves into the favor of the Enemy’s Commissary of Prisoners, have been indulged with an undue Preference. The Gentlemen we have mentioned are all Men of real Merit, and the continuation of their Imprisonment is a public Loss. We therefore intreat your friendly Interposition that Justice may be done to them. We are Sir, with great Respect and Esteem your Excellency’s most Obedient Servants.

By Order

Pierre Van Cortlandt V: Presdt

LS, DLC: Elias Boudinot Papers. The committee of safety ordered Brig. Gen. John Morin Scott to draft this letter after it received a letter from Edward Dunscomb respecting his confinement as a prisoner of war (see 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 , 1:803, 806).

1Edward Dunscomb (d. 1814) was appointed a lieutenant in Col. John Lasher’s regiment of New York militia levies in January 1776. He apparently was given a Continental commission in a New York Continental regiment in the fall of 1776, and in April 1778 he became a captain lieutenant in the 4th New York Regiment. He was promoted to captain in April 1780 and retired from the service the following January. After leaving the army Dunscomb was employed as a clerk by GW’s aide-de-camp and recording secretary, Lt. Col. Richard Varick. Jeronimus Hoogland was appointed lieutenant and adjutant of Lasher’s regiment in June 1776, and he served in the same capacity in the 2d Continental Dragoons beginning in October 1777. Hoogland was promoted to captain in November 1778 and served to the end of the war.

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