George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Henry Laurens, 16 August 1778

From Henry Laurens

[Philadelphia] 16th August [1778]


I had the honor of writing to Your Excellency the 13th by a Messenger from Monsr Girard, since which Your Excellency’s several favors of the 9th, 11th, and 13th, together with the several papers refer’d to have reached me.1 The latter I receiv’d Yesterday at half past four P.M. in Congress, and immediately presented that and General Sullivan’s of the 10th to the House.

By the Messenger abovemention’d I forwarded a Packet from the Secretary of Congress directed to Major General St Clair, and I shall transmit another directed to Your Excellency by the present conveyance, these I am informed contain all the documents relative to the charge against the General. They had been long out of my custody.2

Your Excellency will find inclosed with this duplicates of the Acts of Congress of the 26th and 30th of November and 27th of December 1776 for raising the regiment of Artillery in Virginia and appointing Colonel Harrison to the command, and for raising three Battalions of Continental Artillery.3

Also an Act of Congress of the 13th Inst. for correcting abuses and granting passes to persons to go into New York.4

Your Excellency’s letter of the 11th I received late last Evening, it shall be laid before Congress with Colonel Palfrey’s tomorrow Morning and I trust the application of that Gentleman will be immediately attended to. I have the honor to be With the utmost Respect & Esteem &c.

LB, DNA:PCC, item 13. A note on the letter-book copy indicates that this letter was sent “by Dunn.”

1Laurens apparently had not yet received GW’s second letter of 9 August.

2The packets probably contained both the materials specifically requested by GW’s letter to Laurens of 13 Aug. and the charges that were reported by the committee created on 29 April to state charges in the case. St. Clair was charged on five counts—four, involving “neglect of duty … cowardice … treachery … incapacity as a General … inattention to the progress of the enemy,” under the article 5 of section 18 of the articles of war and the fifth, of “shamefully abandoning the posts of Ticonderoga and Mount Independence,” under article 12 of section 13. For the charges, seven “remarks” made by the congressional committee, and documents introduced into evidence (which may have been in the packets), see St. Clair Court Martial description begins Proceedings of a General Court Martial, Held at White Plains, in the State of New-York, By Order of his Excellency General Washington, Commander in Chief of the Army of the United States of America, For the Trial of Major General St. Clair, August 25, 1778. Major General Lincoln, President. Philadelphia, 1778. description ends .

3The enclosed copies have not been identified; for the resolutions, see 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 , 6:981, 995, and 1045–46.

4This resolution directed that only Congress or GW should issue passes to New York and that Maj. Gen. Benedict Arnold should recall any passes he had issued for travel from Philadelphia to New York (ibid., 11:779).

Index Entries