George Washington Papers

General Orders, 1 March 1778

General Orders

Parole: Arnold—Countersign: Ashford—Almbury.

Head-Quarters V. Forge Sunday March 1st 1778.

The Commander in Chief again takes occasion to return his warmest thanks to the virtuous officers and soldiery of this Army for that persevering fidelity and Zeal which they have uniformly manifested in all their conduct; Their fortitude not only under the common hardships incident to a military life, but also under the additional sufferings to which the peculiar situation of these States have exposed them, clearly proves them worthy the enviable privelege of contending for the rights of human nature, the Freedom & Independence of their Country; The recent Instance of uncomplaining Patience during the scarcity of provisions in Camp is a fresh proof that they possess in an eminent degree the spirit of soldiers and the magninimity of Patriots—The few refractory individuals who disgrace themselves by murmurs it is to be hoped have repented such unmanly behaviour, and resolved to emulate the noble example of their associates upon every trial which the customary casualties of war may hereafter throw in their way—Occasional distress for want of provisions and other necessaries is a spectacle that frequently occurs in every army and perhaps there never was one which has been in general so plentifully supplied in respect to the former as ours; Surely we who are free Citizens in arms engaged in a struggle for every thing valuable in society and partaking in the glorious task of laying the foundation of an Empire, should scorn effeminately to shrink under those accidents & rigours of War which mercenary hirelings fighting in the cause of lawless ambition, rapine & devastation, encounter with cheerfulness and alacrity, we should not be merely equal, we should be superior to them in every qualification that dignifies the man or the soldier in proportion as the motive from which we act and the final hopes of our Toils, are superior to theirs. Thank Heaven! our Country abounds with provision & with prudent management we need not apprehend want for any length of time. Defects in the Commissaries department, Contingencies of weather and other temporary impediments have subjected and may again subject us to a deficiency for a few days,1 but soldiers! American soldiers! will despise the meaness of repining at such trifling strokes of Adversity, trifling indeed when compared to the transcendent Prize which will undoubtedly crown their Patience and Perseverence, Glory and Freedom, Peace and Plenty to themselves and the Community; The Admiration of the World, the Love of their Country and the Gratitude of Posterity! Your General unceasingly employs his thoughts on the means of relieving your distresses, supplying your wants and bringing your labours to a speedy and prosperous issue—Our Parent Country he hopes will second his endeavors by the most vigorous exertions and he is convinced the faithful officers and soldiers associated with him in the great work of rescuing our Country from Bondage and Misery will continue in the display of that patriotic zeal which is capable of smoothing every difficulty & vanquishing every Obstacle.

At a Brigade Court Martial Feby 27th whereof Lt Coll Burr was President Lieutt Blackall William Ball of 12th Pennsylvania Regiment tried for disobedience of orders, Insolence and ungentlemanlike behavior—The Court after mature deliberation on the evidence produced are clearly & unanimously of opinion that Lieutt Ball is not guilty and do therefore unanimously acquit him with the highest honor of all and every of the Articles exhibited against him—The Court do further agree & determine that the charges each and all of them are groun[d]less, frivilous and malicious, that Lt Ball’s behaviour was truly gentlemanlike, his attention and obedience to orders exemplary & his Conduct rather deserving applause than Censure.2

The Commander in Chief confirms the opinion of the Court and orders Lieutt Ball to be immediately released from his arrest.

At a General Court Martial whereof Colonel Cortland was President, Feby 25th Philip Bocker an Inhabitant of this State tried for attempting to carry Provision in to the Enemy at Philadelphia and unanimously acquitted of the charge.

At the same Court Joseph De Haven, an Inhabitant of this State tried for repeatedly going into Philadelphia since the Enemy have been in possession of it and acquitted.3

Also Michael Milanberger an Inhabitant of this State tried for supporting the Enemy with Provision and acquitted.

The Commander in Chief confirms the aforegoing opinions of the Court and orders the three last mentioned Prisoners to be immediately released from confinement.

At the same Court Jacob Cross an Inhabitant of this State tried for stealing Calves and carrying them into Philadelphia, found guilty of stealing two Calves one of which he carried into Philadelphia, the other he was carrying in when taken, being a breach of a resolution of Congress dated October 8th 77 extended by another dated december 29th—and do sentence him to receive two hundred lashes on his bare back well laid on.4

The Commander in Chief approves the sentence and orders it to be put in Execution on the Grand-Parade tomorrow morning at guard mounting.

At a General Court Martial whereof Coll Cortland was President Feby 24th 78, Joseph Worrell an Inhabitant of the State of Pennsylvania tried for giving intelligence to the Enemy and for acting as guide and pilot to the Enemy; The Court are of opinion the Prisoner is guilty of acting as a guide to the Enemy (and do acquit him of the other charge against him) being a breach of a resolution of Congress dated Octr 8th 77, extended by another resolution of Congress dated december 29th 1777, and they do (upwards of two thirds agreeing) sentence him to suffer death.

His Excellency the Commander in Chief approves the sentence and orders Joseph Worrell to be executed next tuesday at 10 ôClock in the forenoon.5

Varick transcript, DLC:GW.

The entry for this date in the orderly book of Brig. Gen. Edward Hand adds, “A gill of rum or whiskey per Man to be Issued to the troops to morrow, who are not under Inoculation” (DNA: RG 93, Orderly Books, 1775–1783, vol. 21; see also Aaron Burr orderly book, NHi). On this date the British officer Francis Downman noted in his diary, “The snow set in very severely and continued till the 6th with hard frost” (Whinyates, Services of Francis Downman description begins F. A. Whinyates, ed. The Services of Lieut.-Colonel Francis Downman, R.A., in France, North America, and the West Indies, between the Years 1758 and 1784. Woolwich, England, 1898. description ends , 56; see also Scull, Montresor Journals description begins G. D. Scull, ed. The Montresor Journals. New York, 1882. In Collections of the New-York Historical Society, vol. 14. description ends , 480–81).

1In a note to his “Return of Provision & Stores in Camp. March 1. 1778,” signed on 2 Mar., Deputy Commissary General of Issues Thomas Jones reported to GW, “A Number of Waggons on their way from Jersey with Salt’d provisions, a Number of Cattle on the Road from New England, also from Lancaster, Elk, & Berks County, waggons are daily expect’d with Flour, the Badness of the Roads, & high waters, makes it impossible to Say when they will arrive at Camp” (DNA: RG 93, War Department Collection of Revolutionary War Records, Miscellaneous Numbered Records, no. 22044).

2Blackall William Ball (1761–1812) was commissioned an ensign in the 12th Pennsylvania Regiment on 16 Oct. 1776 and was promoted to second lieutenant on 20 May 1777. Consolidated into the 3d Pennsylvania Regiment on 1 July 1778, Ball was promoted to first lieutenant on 11 Sept. 1778. He transferred to the 1st Pennsylvania Regiment on 1 Jan. 1783 and served to the end of the war.

3Joseph Dehaven owned property in Whitpain Township, Philadelphia County; in 1781 he was listed as a saddler.

4The resolution of 8 Oct. 1777 provided “That any person . . . who shall act as a guide or pilot by land or water for the enemy, or shall give or send intelligence to them, or in any manner furnish them with supplies . . . be considered and treated as an enemy and traitor to these United States; and that General Washington be empowered to order such person taken within thirty miles of any city, town or place in the states of Pensylvania, Jersey and Delaware, which is, or may be in the possession of any of the enemy’s forces, to be tried by a court martial” authorized to sentence them to death (JCC description begins Worthington Chauncey Ford et al., eds. Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774-1789. 34 vols. Washington, D.C., 1904–37. description ends , 9:784). GW’s authority, which initially ran to 1 Jan. 1778, was extended to 10 April 1778 by a resolution of 30 Dec., not 29 Dec., 1777 (JCC description begins Worthington Chauncey Ford et al., eds. Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774-1789. 34 vols. Washington, D.C., 1904–37. description ends , 9:1068).

5Although the general orders for 2 Mar. announced a postponement of Worrell’s execution, Capt. Samuel Kearsley wrote Lt. Col. Aaron Burr from Bartholomew’s Tavern on Tuesday, 3 Mar., “Can inform you that Jack Ketch has Executed his Commission the Redoubted Joseph Worrell is no more but hangs a spectacle for Buckscounty torys May they all share a small particle of hemp as well as him” (PHi: Gratz Collection; see also Alexander Scammell to Timothy Pickering, 17 Mar., MHi: Timothy Pickering Papers).

Index Entries