George Washington Papers

From George Washington to Brigadier General John Lacey, Jr., 11 April 1778

To Brigadier General John Lacey, Jr.

Head Quarters Valley Forge 11th April 1778


I recd yours of yesterday inclosing the proceedings of a Court Martial against sundry inhabitants for supplying the Enemy with provision, and a Return of your Brigade.1 When you have gone thro’ the trials of the whole, I would recommend it to you to send such, as you think dangerous and who would join the Enemy if released, to the president, with a desire to confine them or put them to labour for five or six months, which will be the active part of the Campaign.2 Those whose general character has been good I would have released with an assurance of being hanged if they are taken in such practices again, and perhaps it would be well to remit the Corporal punishment of all, especially if they are people who have any reputable friends in the Country—You will observe that the Resolve of Congress for trying inhabitants by law martial expired yesterday,3 and therefore it will be needless to apprehend any more. If they are found going into Philada with provision you may take that and their Horses from them. I am &c.

Df, in Tench Tilghman’s writing, DLC:GW; copy, enclosed in Lacey to Thomas Wharton, Jr., 13 April 1778, PHarH: Records of Pennsylvania’s Revolutionary Governments, 1775–1790; Varick transcript, DLC:GW. The text of this letter printed in Samuel Hazard’s Register of Pennsylvania, 23 May 1829, p. 326, probably was taken from the LS, but it reveals no significant variation from the draft.

2For Lacey’s further action on this matter, see his letter to GW of 12 April, and note 1 to that document.

3GW is referring to the powers granted him by a congressional resolution of 8 Oct. 1777 and extended on 30 Dec. 1777 to 10 April 1778 (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, 1068).

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