George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Colonel George Gibson, 19 March 1778

From Colonel George Gibson

Lancaster [Pa.] 19th March 1778

May it please Your Excelly

I had the honor to receive Your Excellys favor of the 10th current,1 The Blanks in the Warrant for the execution of Mansin & Myers were filled up & the execution took place on, Monday 16th Inst. in the presence of Some thousands of the Inhabitants of this County no discoverys were made by either of the prisoners of their accomplices who they Said were numerous & very able Farmers. as they were executed in the most public manner I hope the example will intimidate the others from persuing the plann that has been concerted by them; & perhaps may put a final Stop to the intercourse which has been kept up with the Enemy, by many of the Inhabitts of this County2—The excessive rainy weather which began about the 1st of this month & continued until two days since, had made the roads so bad & raised the waters so much as to render travelling even on horseback difficult, It was oweing to this that the detachmt under the command of Lieut. Colo. Smith did not march before Your Excellys orders arrived, I had determined to send off that Detachmt together with such men as were recover’d from the hospitls & a number of Stragglers that I picked up, who were prevented from going to Camp by the badness of the roads, they were preparing for the march when Your Excellys order arrived.3 the day is fix’d as sunday next4 when the roads will be exceeding good, nor can waggons be procured before that time—though tis now more than ten days since application has been made for Waggons, & notwithstanding every thing has been done by the Quarter Masr Genl I am afraid we shall be obliged to procure them ourselves in the best manner we can, Colo. Smith will leave near One Hundred men behind him sick, his detachmt will consist of about 220 Rank & File, the men from the hospitals will amot to 200 @ 250—I have order’d the men fitt for a Camp life to march from Ephrata & Reams Town their numbers will amot to near 1005—I discover’d that the two Brittish Serjts whose sentence is not yet approved of by Your Excy were possess’d of 2 horses when taken, I order’d the Quarter Masr Genl Mr Ross to take them into Custody to have them appraised & to apply them to public use until Your Excys pleasure shall be known, the Person who took up the Serjts has demanded them as his prize & the person who kept them has a large accot against whosoever they may belong to6—I have apply’d agreeable to Your Excellys orders to the Governor for a party of Militia to Guard the Stores &c. at this place which is Granted, Your Excys orders with respect to Bowman hath been comply’d with he is deliver’d to the Civil power, The French Docr is discharged, Harvey who Your Exy was pleased to pardon is released from confinemt, He beseeches Your Exy to permit him to enlist as a Soldier that he may have it in his power to convince Your Excelly that he will merit the mercy Your Excelly was pleased to Shew him, if not he will remove to York or Cumberland county in this State7—Many of the prisoners of Warr have lately died in the Goal of this town, with the Goal distempe⟨r.⟩ Mr Attlee the Commissy of prisoners has been very urgent to have them put into the hospital with our poor fellows who are now thank God recovering from something of the same kind of disorder. I have positively refused to suffer one of them to be admitted into the hospital, even supposg they had not that infectious disease it wou’d be improper to have them mix’d with our men who are Kept in order with much difficulty, & were these Soldiers to be mix’d with them It wou’d be next to an impossibility to preserve any Kind of order amongst them—Unless Your Excelly orders to the contrary I am determined to prevent their admission—We have not yet expended any part of the Salt provisions that were Brought from Middletown, & am in hopes we Shall have not any occasion to expend any part of It, as the Council have taken the matter into their hands & the troops are pretty well supply’d8—I know not what the men will do for Cooking Kettles none can be procured at this place.

The Commissy of Military Stores has reced orders 10 days since to remove all the Stores at this place to the Westward of Susquehanah; they are yet untouched No Waggons can be procured I take the Liberty to men⟨tion mutilated⟩ Circumstance to Your Excy, to shew Your Excy no dependance ⟨mutilated⟩ in the Act of Assembly of this State for procuring Waggons,9 & in case of Exigency nothing else but impressing ⟨will⟩ answer the Purpose. I have the Honor to be with the greatest Respect Your Excellys Obedt huml. Servt

Geo: Gibson


1See GW to Gibson, 11 March. Either Gibson erred, or the letter sent to him was given a different date than the draft.

2On 15 Mar., Gibson issued an order for the execution of Henry Mansin and Wendle Meyer on the following day. He directed that “The Troops . . . will assemble at ten oClock on the parade. . . . It is expected that the Gentlemen Officers who are in Town (not actually on Duty) will be present at the Execution The Procession to begin at half past 11 oClock from the Goal” (DNA: RG 93, Orderly Books, 1775–1783, vol. 18). The Pennsylvania Gazette (York) of 21 Mar. reported that the execution occurred “amidst a very numerous concourse of spectators. The unhappy wretches before their execution, acknowledged the justice of their sentence, and died fully convicted of the heinousness of their offence.” Contrary to Gibson’s assertion in this letter, however, the Gazette claimed, “They have discovered several persons who aided and assisted them, but unfortunately made their escape upon the caption of these culprits, however it is hoped that justice will overtake them, and inflict the punishment due to such parricides.”

4The following Sunday was 22 March.

5The military hospital at Ephrata in Cocalico Township, Lancaster County, about thirteen miles northeast of Lancaster, was established around the time of the Battle of Brandywine and remained in operation until June 1778. The hospital at Reamstown, about four miles northeast of Ephrata, closed in mid-March 1778 when its patients were transferred to Ephrata.

6For the case of the British sergeants, see William Howe to GW, 21 Feb., and note 9 to that document.

7For GW’s orders, see his letter to Gibson of 11 March. On 18 Mar. the president of Pennsylvania’s supreme executive council, Thomas Wharton, Jr., ordered Col. Richard McAllister to call up a class of York County militia and send them “with all possible expedition” to guard the stores at Lancaster (Pa. Archives description begins Samuel Hazard et al., eds. Pennsylvania Archives. 9 ser., 138 vols. Philadelphia and Harrisburg, 1852–1949. description ends , 1st ser., 6:369; see also Pa. Col. Records description begins Colonial Records of Pennsylvania. 16 vols. Harrisburg, 1840–53. description ends , 11:442). For the case of Dr. Pierre Menot, see Gibson to GW, 8 March.

8For discussion of the provisions from Middletown, see Gibson to GW, 8 March.

9John Hubley (1747–1821), a Lancaster lawyer who had served as a member of the Pennsylvania council of safety and supreme executive council from August 1776 to April 1777, was appointed commissary of military stores at Lancaster by the Pennsylvania council of safety on 11 Jan. 1777. The orders for removing stores across the Susquehanna River came from the Board of War (Pa. Col. Records description begins Colonial Records of Pennsylvania. 16 vols. Harrisburg, 1840–53. description ends , 11:86, 442). For a discussion of the Pennsylvania wagon law passed on 2 Jan., see GW to Gibson, 7 Mar., and note 1 to that document.

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