George Washington Papers

To George Washington from John Beatty, 31 July 1778

From John Beatty

Prince Town [N.J.] July 31st 1778


I am now to acknowledge the receipt of your Favor of the 27th Instant which has just come to hand and am to Inform you, that I have already complied with part of the Instructions therein contained: In a Letter from the Marine Committe of Congress, I was Authorized to Inform Admiral Gambier that his proposition relative to the Exchange of Marine Prisoners was Acceeded to by Congress—binding themselves to return a like number in our possession with as little delay as possible—I have wrote to Admiral Gambier Yesterday acquainting him that I shall attend at Elizabeth-Town Tomorrow there to receive and give him Credit for whatever number of Prisoners he shall deliver over—Pledging the Public Faith of these States for an equal return.1 in my Answer to the Committe I informed them of my having no particular instructions respecting Marines, mentioning particularly the case of the French men. I now wait their Orders on that head.2

I am just returned from Philadelphia where I have in as pointed a manner as I was capable of laid before Congress the distressed Situation of their Prisoners, representing at the same time the Accounts already contracted and the Impractibility as well as Impropriety of discharging those debts in the Manner heretofore adopted, begging they would furnish me only with as much Hard Money as would answer the present demand and put Mr Pintard upon a more reputable Footing whose private Credit is already engaged for more than he can ever pay and who is in danger of being throw’d into a Provost unless some measures are speedily taken to relieve him. Congress have not paid that attention to it I thought the Urgency of the Case Demanded and after waiting a number of Days for an Answer, was dismised without any other, then that they would resume the Consideration of it.3

I shall endeavour always to administer a sufficient supply of Provision to the Prisoners in New York and shall strictly comply with your orders with regard to Individuals.

I fear I shall be detained longer from Head Quarters than I at first immagined Occasioned by the very slow returns of the Prisoners from the different places they have been confined in As well as this last order from Congress respecting the Exchange of Marines.

I shall however at all times wait your Excellencys Commands and will be found by Directing your letters to me at Prince Town, if not there they always know where to send to me I am Your Excellencys Most Obedient and Very Humble Servant

Jno. Beatty.
Com: Gen: Prisr

LS, DLC:GW. Beatty signed the cover of the LS.

1Neither Beatty’s correspondence with British admiral James Gambier nor the letter from the Marine Committee has been identified, but the committee had evidently authorized an exchange of “an equal number of Prisoners of the same rank and condition—making a distinction betwixt men and Boys, Sick and well” (see Marine Committee to Beatty, 12 Aug., DNA:PCC, Miscellaneous Papers, Marine Committee Letter Book; see also Smith, Letters of Delegates description begins Paul H. Smith et al., eds. Letters of Delegates to Congress, 1774–1789. 26 vols. Washington, D.C., 1976–2000. description ends , 10:433–34).

2Beatty’s “answer” to the Marine Committee of 29 July has not been identified, but the committee replied on 30 July that instructions relating to the French seamen would come “from the French Minister through Colo. Boudinot” (DNA:PCC, Miscellaneous Papers, Marine Committee Letter Book; see also ibid., 10:373).

3Beatty raised this issue in a letter to Congress of 24 July (DNA:PCC, item 78). Congress read Beatty’s “representation” on 28 July and laid it on the table ( 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 , 11:725).

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