George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Colonel Robert Magaw, 6 April 1777

From Colonel Robert Magaw

Flat Bush Long Island [N.Y.] 6th Apl 1777.


By Major Williams I beg leave to represent to your Excellency the distressed Situation of many of the Officers now Prisoners of War on this Island[.] the distance from their Freinds, the loss of their Baggage at the time they were taken, & the length of their Captivity has rendered a number of them destitute of Common necessaries—their Circumstances must soon be extreamly disagreeable & even wretched unless relieved by remittances of their Pay or Otherwise.

I refer you to Major Williams for more perticular information1 & am your Excellencys most Obdt Hble Servant

Robt Magaw


1Otho Holland Williams wrote in the margin of this letter: “His Excellency, will please be referr’d to Ensigns Courts and Fernandes. O. H. Williams.” GW says in his reply to Magaw of 20 April that Fernandis was the bearer of this letter. James Fernandis (Fernandez) and William Courts both had become ensigns in Col. William Smallwood’s Maryland regiment in early 1776 and had been captured at the Battle of Long Island on 27 Aug. 1776. They were exchanged on 24 Mar. 1777, and both men were commissioned first lieutenants on 17 April, Fernandis in the 1st Maryland Regiment and Courts in the 2d Maryland Regiment. Fernandis was promoted to captain lieutenant in March 1778, and he resigned his commission in July 1779. Although accused of cowardice following the Battle of Brandywine in Sept. 1777, Courts was acquitted both of that charge and of being impertinent to a superior officer at his court-martial (see General Orders, 19 Oct. 1777).

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