George Washington Papers

From George Washington to Brigadier General William Maxwell, 13 August 1778

To Brigadier General William Maxwell

Head Quarters White plains 13th Augt 1778


I have your favr of the 10th inclosing a list of the French Fleet.1 I am informed that Lieut. Lane of your Brigade, who was the Officer that recd the Flag at second River, opened the packet from the British Commissioners to Congress—read the Contents and made them known to several persons; one of whom is ready to prove the fact. I therefore desire that Mr Lane may be arrested and sent up here, to be tried for so unofficer a like a procedure.2

There are not at present either Cartouch Boxes or Tin Cannisters in the hands of the Commy of Military Stores. I will direct him to send to the Magazines and Manufactories and endeavour to obtain a supply. I am Sir Yrs &c.

Df, in Tench Tilghman’s writing, DLC:GW; Varick transcript, DLC:GW.

1Only an extract of Maxwell’s letter that GW sent to Vice Admiral d’Estaing with his letter of 12 Aug. has been found. The enclosed list has not been identified, but the extract indicates that it was of the British, not the French, fleet.

2Aaron Lane, who was commissioned an ensign in the 2d New Jersey Regiment in 1775, was promoted to second lieutenant in November 1776 and to first lieutenant in July 1777. He was cashiered on 25 Aug. 1778 (see General Orders of that date). The packet contained the British peace commissioners’ letter to Henry Laurens of 7 August. Maxwell sent the packet to Laurens on 8 Aug., along with a letter noting that it had been opened (both items, DNA:PCC, item 57).

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