George Washington Papers

From George Washington to Colonel George Gibson, 11 March 1778

To Colonel George Gibson

Head Quarters [Valley Forge] 11th March 1778


I am favd with yours of the 8th Mr Boudinot has wrote to Mr Atlee and has given him directions respecting the British Officers. If the Commissary at Lancaster does not exert himself to procure meat for the troops, write to the Commy General at York and make complaint to him and inform him that there are people who are willing to supply you. Certainly it is as easy for the Commissary to procure Cattle as it is for the Butcher. I would not have you consume any of the salt meat if you can possibly avoid it—As all the Continental Troops at present at Lancaster will be wanted here and must be drawn down as soon as they are fit for Service, I would wish you to apply to the Governor and Council for a Guard of Militia to take care of the Stores. But they need not be called in untill the continental troops are about leaving the town.1 The Doctor that you have in Custody called at Head Quarters when he came out of Philada and some of the Gentlemen of my Family say he told them the same story that he did to you. They therefore think him innocent of any ill design. They advised him to go into Lancaster County, as a place where he would find many of his Countrymen. Inclosed you have a Warrant for the execution of Marsin and Myer.2 Blanks are left for the Name of the person acting as provost and for the time of execution, which had better be done quickly and in as public a manner as possible. I have thought fit to pardon Harvey for the reason recommended by the Court.3

I confirm the sentence of the Court against Wendal Bowman who should be delivered up to the Sheriff with Copy of his Crime and Conviction.4

I also confirm the Sentences against Lieutenant McMichael of the 13th Penna Regt and Lieut. Dickenson of the 5th Virga both of which shall be published in general orders here.5 I am Sir Yr most obt Servt.

P.S. Nothing is yet determined in the Case of the British serjeants they must therefore be kept under Guard.6

Df, in Tench Tilghman’s writing, DLC:GW; Varick transcript, DLC:GW. Gibson acknowledged this letter on 19 Mar. as a “favor of the 10th current”; whether he erred or the date was changed on the LS has not been determined.

1The minutes of the Pennsylvania supreme executive council for 18 Mar. record that Gibson “informed the Council, that he had orders from His Excelly General Washington, to march the Troops, under his Command to Camp with all expedition” and that the council “Ordered, That the eighth Class of Militia, of the County of York, be immediately called into service” and sent to Lancaster (PHarH: Records of Pennsylvania’s Revolutionary Governments, 1775–1790; see also Pa. Col. Records description begins Colonial Records of Pennsylvania. 16 vols. Harrisburg, 1840–53. description ends , 11:442).

2The enclosure has not been found. For a summary of the proceedings against Henry Mansin and Wendle Meyer, see Adam Hubley, Jr., to GW, 9 Feb., and note 1 to that document.

3The record of Harvey’s trial has not been identified. He was apparently one of the men tried in pursuance of GW’s directions to Adam Hubley, Jr., of 14 Feb. (see also Hubley’s reply of 22 Feb.). “A List of Persons tryed before the General Court Martial at Lancaster and prosecuted by James Berwick Judge Advocate” indicates that “George Campbell alias Harvey” was tried for holding correspondence with the enemy and sentenced to death, “but pardoned” (PHi: Society Miscellaneous Collection, box 15c).

4The “List of Persons tryed before the General Court Martial” states that Bowman was found guilty of “holding correspondence with the Enemy” and sentenced to “Imprisonment during War” (PHi: Society Miscellaneous Collection, box 15c). Bowman, who was confined in the Lancaster jail, defended himself in a petition of 23 Mar. to the Pennsylvania council of safety: “I am charged with going to Philadelphya, it is true, I acknowledge I have been there, upon, a lawfull and urgent buissiness, which I hope will not Appear Criminel to your Honours, my father departed this life lately, which left my poor mother a widow, and nobody left to take care, or do buissiness but my Self; I was oblidged to undertake a journey to Philadelphia, tho against my will to bring Some papers of Consequence that were left in the hands of John Wiester, I got in to the City at nine of the Clock in the morning, and Came out the Same Day and without making the least delay pursued my journey whome, after my arrival, I tould all my neighbours that I came from Philadelphia; thinking as I was guilty of nothing Criminal, that I had nothing to fear this is the State in fact of my Crime and the Cause of my Confindment, I was of offered my Liberty on condition of takeing the Oath, but I being bred in a religion, whose principles together, together with my Conscience, prohibits my taking an oath of enemity against any party, or individual whatsoever, therefore I must abandon my religion my Conscience, and all that is, and Should be dear to me, before I am free to take the Oath proposed” (PHarH: Records of Pennsylvania’s Revolutionary Governments, 1775–1790).

6The British sergeants had been seized after separating from a British party carrying clothing to prisoners held by the Americans (see William Howe to GW, 21 Feb., and note 9). For the disposition of their case, see GW to Gibson and to Howe, both 22 March.

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