George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Henry Laurens, 21 March 1778

From Henry Laurens

21st March 1778.


My last to your Excellency was under the 15th by Sharp in which I had acknowledged the receipt of Your Excellency’s favours of the 7th 8th & 12th & which I now repeat because I have heard nothing since, of that Man who in common course should have been at Camp on the 16th. within three days past I have had the honour of presenting to Congress Your Excellency’s several dispatches of the 14th 16th & 17th.1 those of the 7th 8th & 12th are still in the hands of a Committee from whom may be expected a special Report respecting the many opprobrious terms & epithets scattered throughout the Papers from Sir Willm Howe, applied to the good people of these United States & to their Representatives in Congress, which were heard by the House with great Indignation—from expressions of sentiment by Members on all sides, it appears to be the general opinion, that such papers should have been marked with the contempt of an immediate return.

Your Excellency will be pleased to receive within the present Inclosure three Acts of Congress—

1. 18th March—Authorizing Your Excellency to settle a general Cartel & to proceed to an Exchange of Prisoners.2

2. 19th—for adjusting the Rank of Brig: Generals Woodford, Muhlenberg, Scott Weedon respectively.3

3. 21st for confirming the powers vested in Majr General McDougal by Your Excellency & for other purposes.4

I have the honour to be With the highest Esteem & Regard &ca.

LB, DNA:PCC, item 13. A notation on the letter book indicates that this letter was carried by Frederick Weare (Weir).

1GW’s second letter of 16 Mar. was not read in Congress until 23 Mar. (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 , 10:278).

2This resolution authorized GW “to proceed to the exchange of such prisoners as are now in the power of the enemy, without waiting for the settlement of the accounts” for support of British prisoners in American hands (ibid., 266). For the context of the resolution, see GW to Laurens, 7–8 March.

3This resolution called for GW to “call in and cancel” the commissions of Virginia brigadier generals William Woodford, Peter Muhlenberg, Charles Scott, and George Weedon and for the issuance of new commissions ranking them in the order listed, as recommended to GW by a board of general officers (ibid., 269; A Board of General Officers to GW, 4 Mar.).

4In addition to confirming the powers that GW had given Maj. Gen. Alexander McDougall, Congress resolved “That Colonel Van Schaick’s and Colonel James Livingston’s regiments be ordered to Peeks Kill” and “That Governor Clinton and Governor Trumbull be requested to give every assistance in their power to General M’Dougal for perfecting the defence of the North River” (ibid., 278).

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