George Washington Papers

To George Washington from General William Howe, 27 March 1778

From General William Howe

Philadelphia 27th March 1778


The Commissioners formerly mentioned by me1 will meet the Gentlemen you have nominated in your Letter of the 22d at German Town on the 31st Inst. at 11 OClock in the morning, and Joshua Loring Esqr. my Commissary General of Prisoners will give his occasional Attendance.

A Commissioned Officer with a Serjeant and twelve Dragoons will be sent from hence to attend upon my Commissioners, and I give this timely Notice that you may, if you please, have an equal Number with yours.2

I conclude you will join with me in opinion that German Town must be considered so far a neutral Place, as that no Troops be permitted to enter it, except the Guards aforementioned, during the meeting of the Commissioners. I am with due Respect Sir your most obet Servt

W. Howe

Copy, in Richard Kidder Meade’s writing, enclosed in GW to Henry Laurens, 18 April 1778, DNA:PCC, item 152; copy, DNA:PCC, item 169; copy, P.R.O., 30/55, Carleton Papers; copy, P.R.O., Colonial Office, Secretary of State’s Correspondence with Commander-in-Chief, North America; copy, ScHi: Henry Laurens Papers. This letter was published in newspapers such as the Pennsylvania Gazette (York), 2 May 1778, as part of the report of “The Commissioners appointed by his Excellency General Washington, to meet, confer, determine, and agree upon a treaty and convention for the exchange of prisoners of war, etc.”

2According to the notes of Elias Boudinot, at the 31 Mar. meeting “The Commissioners on each side were attended by an Escort of 12 light Dragoons under the command of a Cap. of light Dragoons—Americans by Capt. [Robert] Smith of Baylor’s regt” (“Boudinot’s Notes of Two Conferences,” description begins “Colonel Elias Boudinot’s Notes of Two Conferences Held by the American and British Commissioners to Settle a General Cartel for the Exchange of Prisoners of War, 1778.” Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography 24 (1900): 291–305. description ends 291). In a letter of 3 April requesting Col. Stephen Moylan to “send a corporal and six dragoons, with a Trumpeter to Head Quarters” to join the escort for a subsequent meeting, GW’s aide Alexander Hamilton characterized the escort: “You need not be told they must be picked men and horses—must make the best possible appearance—must be very trusty and very intelligent. They should also be of the same regiment” (DLC:GW).

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