To Major General Israel Putnam
Head quarters. Morris Town. 28th Feby 1777
Your several favours of the 25th & 26th Inst. came to hand1—The pass granted by Ld & Genl Howe to William Taylor dated the 18 Int. is of such a nature as not to afford any protection to the Vessell & Crew even on the most scrupulous Construction of the Law of Nations; and she came in so suspicious a manner, without a Flag flying, as would have justified severer treatment than mere detention—But ’tis possible that Taylor & the master of the Vessell not sufficiently informed of the practice necessarily observable in bearing Flags, or strangers to the Instances in which Protection can with propriety be granted by an Enemy—came with no ill design—I would therefore have the Vessell & hands released, being desirous to remove from our Army eve[n] the smallest Imputation of an Infringement on the sacred dignity of a Flag2—Indeed I would pass over unnoticed any small deviation from the usual Line in these Cases—if not attended with danger to Us—They are to consider this early discharge as an Indulgence, which they, or any other person, must not expect a Repetition of3—When the English letters, that were found onboard, come to you, please to send them to me—if of any Consequence.
Capt. Smith mistook my meaning about raising an Independt Compy. no such powers are vested in my hands—On yr recommendn I offered him a Compy in a Regt of Rangers, which he declined—I approve yr resolution of making the Militia do duty as far from their homes as conveniently can be done. I am &C.
Df, in George Johnston’s writing, DLC:GW; Varick transcript, DLC:GW.
1. Putnam’s letter to GW of 25 Feb. 1777, which has not been found, apparently was written to inquire about a British passport given to William Taylor (d. 1806) of Monmouth County, N.J., a Loyalist attorney who had fled to New York City in the fall of 1776. Howe on 27 Jan. 1777 had ordered all vessels passing between New York and New Jersey “after Gunfiring, in the Evening, till Gun firing in the Morning,” to obtain a passport from his headquarters or the commanding officers at Powles Hook (see Kemble Papers description begins [Stephen Kemble]. The Kemble Papers. 2 vols. New York, 1884-85. In Collections of the New-York Historical Society, vols. 16–17. description ends , 1:441). Taylor may have been trying to make contact with his father, John Taylor, the sheriff of Monmouth County, who at this time was still in New Jersey (see GW to Putnam, 5 Feb. 1777).
2. Johnston inadvertently wrote “every the smallest” on the manuscript.
3. At this point in the draft Johnston wrote “No. 1.” and at the end of the letter he wrote: “No. 1. It may not be improper to send Colo. [David] Foreman a Copy of this part of my Ansr that [William] Taylor may know my Sentiments & the Reasons that induce me to discharge his Vessell.”