George Washington Papers

To George Washington from John Beatty, 15 October 1778

From John Beatty

Princetown [N.J.] Octr 15th 1778


I am honoured with your two letters of the 26th Ulto & 8th Inst. The former, Inclosing that of Mr Mersereau’s, I have duly noted—& now trouble your Excelly with the Answer, which I must request may be forwarded to him by the earliest conveyance1—Should that Gentleman appear to make his defence, I wish also to have a hearing, as perhaps I may adduce some circumstances to support the Charge.

In Answer to your last, I am to Acquaint your Excelly—That my omitting to lay before you the detail want & condition of the Pris’ners with the Enemy, the better to Enable you to represent their real situation to Congress; did not arise from want of attention to their Sufferings—but from some sugestions which I learned after my return, of the disposition of Congress to render them assistance & relieve their wants—& I have no[w] the pleasure to Inform your Excelly, that time has confirmed my Suppositions: they having granted a Sum more than suffi cient to discharge the whole of their public Debts2—my being obliged from the Instructions of Congress to attend immediately to this Buisness & supplying the Prisnrs with Cloathing suitable for the Ensuing season, may perhaps detain me a week or two longer from Head Quarter, than I at first intended—but flatter myself Mr Adams attends you steadily.3

I am also to acquaint your Excelly—That I thought proper to defer laying before you a representation of the Case of Captains Robinson & Gault, (who were taken out of a Flag Boat last winter & since detained with the Enemy) as Mr Loring has since informed by Letter—That Genl Sir Henry Clinton has given them assurances, that they shall be speedily released.4

Mr Boudinot has promised to lay before you, the state of the Stores &ca that were destroyed by the Enemy some time since in their Excursion to middle Town point as it hapned during Mr Boudinotts time in office—being therefore better Acquainted with the Circumstances—& he having already wrote to Genl Jones, demanding payment for it: I thought it best he should make the representation to you—stating the Facts in a clear Light.5 I am Sir with great respect your most Obedt Humble Servt

Jno. Beatty—Com: Gen: Prisrs


1Beatty’s answer regarding the prisoner of war issues that Joshua Mersereau raised in his letter to GW of 31 Aug. has not been identified, but it apparently was addressed to Mersereau.

2Congress resolved on 5 Oct. that “fifty thousand dollars in specie be advanced to Colonel John Beatty, commissary general of prisoners, for the use of the prisoners in the hands of the enemy, and to discharge the debts of those exchanged; and that the commissary general make monthly returns of his expenditures to the Board of Treasury” (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 , 12:980). Beatty had requested funds for this purpose in his letter to Congress of 3 Oct. (DNA:PCC, item 41).

3John Adam, who had been appointed a deputy commissary of prisoners by Elias Boudinot, apparently was stationed at Washington’s headquarters, but on 22 Oct. he was at Peekskill preparing to return to Fredericksburg (see Adam’s proposition for a prisoner exchange, that date, in Hastings and Holden, Clinton Papers description begins Hugh Hastings and J. A. Holden, eds. Public Papers of George Clinton, First Governor of New York, 1777–1795, 1801–1804. 10 vols. 1899–1914. Reprint. New York, 1973. description ends , 4:186–87).

4For accounts of this affair involving Captains Isaiah Robinson and Nathaniel Galt, see Francis Hopkinson to GW of 16 Mar. 1778, and note 1 to that document; see also GW to William Livingston, 5 Oct. 1778. Robinson was released or exchanged by the summer of 1779, and Galt was exchanged by March 1780.

5For the British burning of a mill and three storehouses at Middletown Point (now Matawan) in Monmouth County, N.J., on 27 May 1778, see Andrew Brown to Anthony Walton White, 28 May 1778, in note 1 to Stephen Moylan to GW, 2 June 1778; see also the Independent Ledger, and American Advertiser (Boston) for 29 June 1778. Neither Elias Boudinot’s letter to British major general Daniel Jones requesting payment for the damage nor any letter from Boudinot to GW giving a detailed account of it have been identified.

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