George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Major General Adam Stephen, 15 May 1777

From Major General Adam Stephen

Chatham [N.J.] 15th May 1777


The General Court Martial yesterday seemd to hurry over Business without that Solemn Attention that is necessary to Command Respect & establish discipline.

I orderd Doctr Griffith to be Summond to appear agt Capt. Russel—Who had been frequently at philadelphia, & Seen the Capn appearing abroad wt. a healthy Countenance—He was ⟨n⟩ot Summoned—The Captain notwithstanding the Repeated ⟨o⟩rders for all Officers to join their Corps—passd Six months wtout seing Us untill his Company had disappeard, we cant tell how or where; & Docr Griffith informs me that to get his Company & Secure Rank, which he has not yet Merited by his Service—he Inlisted his Company for One Year only.1

The Court has clard Lt Gill for going to Virga wtout leave, upon his Saying that he had leave from Capt. Fox & although Fox cuold not give him leave—he never Showd this Leave to the Court—With what Countenance Can Soldiers be punishd for neglect of Duty, if the Officers escape wt. impunity? Gill had not done duty for Six months I had given him leave to go home for his health from portsmouth.2

The Tory Regiments made an Excursion as far as Acquaquennonk & two Nights ago Carryd off Capt. Marinus & Several Others3—I take a tour to day by Newark & Elisabethtown, for Intelligence &c. I have a great passion to wait upon the Tory Regiments, who are So mischievous to that Nighbourhood.

I should think it adviseable that Genl Herd should move his Qua[r]ters frequently—Taking post for a Short time about Hackensack—Then down in Barbados neck4—Then to his old post again—The men will be more healthy, & the Enemy more puzzled.

My Confidential Servant informd me that Several Captains & Lieutenants in the British Army at Brunswick are going to Embark for Britain—That Officers & Men are tired of the Service, That mixing with the men at a game at Coits [quoits]5—he heard them Say—There were numbers of Rebels in England, that one half of the City of London, was of the same way of thinking wt. the Americans. I have the honour to be Sir, your most Obt hube Sert

Adam Stephen

The Virginians laid in Ambuscade apprehended One Deserter & we had him try’d yesterday—They impute the Derstion to Licquor, I have orderd all Sutlers off the Lines.


1David Griffith (1742–1789), a native of New York City who had received his medical education in London prior to 1763 and had been ordained in the Anglican church in 1770, served as a missionary in New Jersey from 1770 to 1771 and as a minister in Loudoun County, Va., from 1771 to 1776. He was surgeon of the Prince William district battalion of minutemen from 1775 to 1776, and in February 1776 he was named surgeon and chaplain of the 3d Virginia Regiment. Resigning the latter positions in March 1779, Griffith served as rector of Fairfax Parish and minister of Christ Church in Alexandria, Va., from 1780 until his death in 1789. Griffith was a frequent visitor after the war, and GW considered him an intimate acquaintance (see GW to Charles Carroll, Robert Morris, and Samuel Powel, 5 April 1786).

2Samuel Gill (1750–1822), who had joined the 4th Virginia Regiment as an ensign in February 1776 and had been promoted to second lieutenant in September 1776 and first lieutenant in January 1777, was found guilty of this charge by the court-martial, but the court sentenced him only to be reprimanded for his transgression (see General Orders, 23 May). Nathaniel Fox (d. 1825) of Spotsylvania County, Va., entered the 6th Virginia Regiment as a first lieutenant in February 1776, and he was promoted to captain in the regiment in June 1776. Fox and Gill both retired from the army in September 1778, Fox with the rank of major and Gill with the rank of captain.

3For an account of the British capture of Capt. David Marinus (1751–1778) at Slotterdam, N.J., on 13 May, see Nathaniel Heard to GW, 14 May, n.2. Captured with him were Lt. David Van Busson and three enlisted men. Marinus, a captain in the Bergen County, N.J., militia who had served in Col. Philip Van Cortlandt’s regiment of New Jersey militia levies during 1776, was imprisoned with Van Busson at the Sugar House in New York City until they escaped in early January 1778. Marinus died of cold and exposure on 16 Jan., several days after returning home (see Leiby, Revolutionary War in the Hackensack Valley description begins Adrian C. Leiby. The Revolutionary War in the Hackensack Valley: The Jersey Dutch and the Neutral Ground, 1775–1783. New Brunswick, N.J., 1962. description ends , 117).

4New Barbadoes Neck lies southwest of Hackensack, N.J., between the Hackensack and Passaic rivers.

5Quoits were iron or rope rings used in a popular throwing game.

Index Entries