George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Major General Benjamin Lincoln, 19 May 1777

From Major General Benjamin Lincoln

Bound brook [N.J.] May [19]th1 1777

Dear General

One of the Hessians left their camp at the landing this afternon,2 his account of their numbers & situation is very simelar to that we have often had from others. He informs there are no appearances of removing at present, they are waiting for a reinforcment which they daily expect—That the treatment they receive is so very different from what they expected, & so injurious, (were promised 16d. per day & receive 1s. only for seven) in case it is known at home it will be dificult to git recruits—That they lately left three of their strongest regiments at rhode Island—That their troops are very sickly at New York & fort Washington—That one of their regiments that came out with six hundred are now reduced to one hundred fit for duty—That they have lost one half their men since they came out—That they are in possession we sent in.

Notwithstanding the sold[i]ers have been lately paid, & the pains taken that justice should be done them, desertion continues the night before last two left their posts one of them of the 10th Pennsilvana regiment of Cap. Shags company who, I am informed by a Note from the field officers of the day, hath lost his whole company in that way excepting two3—Last night we lost four who were patroling with a sergeant they attempted to induce him to go off with them on his refusal they knocked him down took his gun & left him—you will find on examining the present return with the former. the differences are not accounted for, nor is it possible by the last regimental returns to do it.

ADf, MHi: Benjamin Lincoln Papers.

GW’s secretary Robert Hanson Harrison replied to this letter on 20 May: “The desertion of the Troops is provoking & distressing to the last degree.

“The deficiency in some of the Corps, from that, and other Causes, is almost incredible. His Excellency desires, that in all future Returns, you will make the Officers account fully for deficiencys—he observes, the Return now before him differs widely from the last—particularly in the instance of the Two Independent Companies. they are returned 60 & when they first joined the Army, they were about 140 strong.

“His Excellency wishes you not to give Furloughs to the Officers: he says the situation of Affairs will not justifie their absence at this time.

“The Maryland Troops, that are at Bound Brook, he requests you to order immediately to princeton & there to take Genl Sullivans command” (NjMoHP).

1Although the dateline on the manuscript reads: “Bound brook May 18th 1777,” Lincoln endorsed the manuscript: “To His Excellency May 19th 1777,” and Harrison in his letter to Lincoln of 20 May acknowledges “your favor of Yesterday.”

2There was a Hessian outpost at Raritan Landing.

3Henry Shade of Northampton County, Pa., became a captain in Col. Samuel Miles’s Pennsylvania rifle regiment in March 1776, and in December 1776 he transferred to the 10th Pennsylvania Regiment. Shade was cashiered on 19 Oct. 1777 for being absent without leave “for near two months” (General Orders, that date).

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