George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Colonel Thomas Hartley, 23 May 1778

From Colonel Thomas Hartley

York Town [Pa.]
May the 23d 1778.

May it please your Excellency—

I inclose you the Proceedings of a General Court Martial1—The Criminals were Part of a number of Money makers—Deserters Theaves in who had inhabited the South mountain; between the States of Maryland & Pennsylvania & who had put the Civil Laws at Defiance.

You will please to send your Directions concerning the proceedings of the Court to York as soon as you think convenient.

Since I had the Honour of seeing you, I have had a very Severe Fit of Sickness; but Thanks to God I am now considerably recovered, tho’ I find myself still weak.

During my Stay here I have endeavoured to forward the Publick Service, as much as my Situation would admit.

The Regiment has done hard Duty during the winter and spring—The men were naked—a Guard of 27 or 30 men was mounted daily—wood was to be cut and hawled as well for the Troops as Congress and other publick Bodies—The Soldiery were called upon in all Emergancies—these were frequently sent on Commands—in short tho’ the men had some Conveniencies—they had their Disadvantages also this I mention, lest it should be thought the Troops had been indulged & had done no Duty here.

By some Address, I have prevailed on the State of Pennsylvania to grant me their Bounty; this has enabled me within four or five weeks to enlist between sixty and eighty Men—not many of these have deserted—besides we obtain a few every Day.

Cloaths are making and other Things providing to equip the Regiment for the Field, where I wish they may be able to serve their Country to advantage. I am with the greatest Respect & Attachment for your Excellency your most obedt & most humble Servt

Thos Hartley


1The enclosed proceedings of a court-martial held at York, Pa., on 21 May by order of the Board of War found one Christian Shockey “of Colo. Malcolms Regiment” guilty of desertion; “William Jones of Capt. Davis’s Compy of the Maryland Troops” guilty of “Desertion, & stealing a Watch”; and John King, Jr., guilty of desertion. Shockey and Jones received one hundred and two hundred lashes, respectively, but in King’s case the court stated: “The Prisoners Conduct being very improper on his Tryal & the Court having been informed, that he is a person of very bad fame; enquired into his Character, & find it so infamous, that there remains no hope of his reformation & considering the bad consiquences attending a too lenient treatment of the Crime, he pleads Guilty to; & the necessity of making examples & being of Opinion, that a properer Object cannot be met with Do Sentance him to suffer Death” (DLC:GW). GW eventually pardoned both Shockey and King (see Hartley to GW, 13 June, and GW to Hartley, 14 June).

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