George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Herman Zedwitz, 12 November 1777

From Herman Zedwitz

East town [Pa.] November the 12th 1777


I Should not presume to trouble your Exellencey with the inclosed letter to his Excellencey general howe, was it not to prevent mischiefs with three men Send after me from philadelphia by the honorable the Congress to Cure my desease, have Resolved upon to Publish a Shouking Story;1 but to inform your Excellencey in particular how dangerous them Vilans maid be if not prevented as well to the honor of your Excellencey as also to the honorable the President. they went With me from Philadelphia to fridericks town in maryland and informed me If I niw in What danger I was I Should tremble at it but they had to mush mercey to [p]ut your Excellenceys and the honorable the Presidents Secret orders into Execution:2 a few days after they said your Excellencey and the Hon: President have given them privit Intructions to thacke trugh their Electric Instruments entirely a way my Senses; after a few Weaks I Was Caried to Wincester in virginia, Where I found them agin, I had there the liberty to be quartered in the town and Could Walck where I pleased: the very nexd day one of them Came to my quarters and desired me to go with him we went to a Smal Bush near the Said toun Where I found all tree together they told me if I do not Chuse to go of With them at present I must inevidably be the most unhappy men in the World because they said as soon your Excellencey or the Hon: the President find out that they instead of depriving me of my Senses, have with great trouble procured me the same it Should Seartenly be Executed by some others Wich Will be send after me they Confirmed the same with the haviesd Oath I ever hard of I Scruppled and Replaed in Case I Should be Cathed agin I must be a great deal unhappier then I am at present they answered they Where Sorry for my obstinacey and must telt me that they are forced for their own Securty to thacke my life away or else I maid betray them I upon this Resolved to ventur and we Went 200 miles till East town Where I Was Stopped and Cariet Without the least Consideration in to the Comon goale amongst 25 Men and nothing alowed but one Ration. I beeg your Excellencey most hubly to ease by this Express my havy confinement and beag for the Sake of our Almighty Savior Jesus Christ to have mercey and grant my discharge as I am not more able in any termes Whatsoever to Serve in Wich Submissive hops I Remain With the greatest Respect your Excellenceys most obedient and humble Servant

Herman Zedwitz

P:S: Please to Send the inclosed Litter imediately by a flagge of trust—pr Express.

Copy, enclosed in Robert Levers to Timothy Matlack, 15 Nov., PHarH.

1Zedwitz’s letter to William Howe of this date apparently was not forwarded to the British commander, but Robert Levers, the county lieutenant of Northampton County, Pa., enclosed a copy of it in his letter of 15 Nov. to Pennsylvania executive council secretary Timothy Matlack. “Some little time past,” writes Levers, “I had the Honor to transmit to his Excellency, the President, an Examination taken before me, of Herman Zedwitz—The Honorable Mr Hancock has since been here, and observed, that it had been his opinion this unhappy man was disordered in his Senses—By Two Letters wrote by him since his Confinement, the one intended for General Washington, the other for General Howe, Copies of which I enclose, it is manifest he cannot be in his right mind—I shall be glad to receive the directions of Council, relative to this man, he having not wherewith to support himself, and now languishing in Prison” (PHarH: Records of Pennsylvania’s Revolutionary Governments, 1775–1790; see also Pa. Archives description begins Samuel Hazard et al., eds. Pennsylvania Archives. 9 ser., 138 vols. Philadelphia and Harrisburg, 1852–1949. description ends , 1st ser., 6:5–7). Zedwitz, for his part, informed Howe that “Though I have not the plesures to be Known to your Excellencey but necessity forces me to Sue humbly for Justice. T[h]ree high germans Would macke me believe a Story to Shoking to Relait, touching the honorable Caracters of his Excellenceys general washington my Comander in Chieff and the Honorable the President Wich they Swore to put it to the Press and Publish the same as soon they arive at philadelphia: But My Lord as I have had a many proves of their falshoods, therefore as it is most impossble that Such astonishing Secret orders Can have been given to them, I must humbly Solicit your Excellencey if the Said tree men Should apeare at your head quarters or philadelphia that they may be thacken up immediately and be punished and deprived of doing any Such horrible mischieff; your Excellencey will infinitely obligde my Lord your most obedient and humble Servant” (PHarH). Zedwitz’s “Shoking” story has not been identified.

2Zedwitz wrote “but your Excellenceys” on the manuscript.

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