To John Beatty
Philada 29th January 1779
Inclosed you will find two Resolves of Congress of the 23d and 28th Inst. The first contains some general Regulations for your official Conduct, the latter respects the exchange of those Officers on both sides who have actually violated their paroles.1 To carry the intentions of the Resolve into execution it becomes necessary in the first place to ascertain what Officers, British as well as American, really come under the description of such as are the objects of the Resolve. I have therefore, proposed to Sir Henry Clinton, that you and Mr Loring should meet at such time and place as you shall both agree upon, to settle that point.2 If he accedes I will immediately inform you. You will in the mean time be preparing yourself with proper materials to combat the charges against those of our Officers who assert that they have made their escapes in a justifiable manner, but are claimed as having broke their paroles—And also with proofs to support any claims we may have upon Officers of theirs, under similar circumstances.
Passports for the provision for our prisoners in New York were ordered previous to the Rect of yours of the 19th.3 I am &.
Df, in Tench Tilghman’s writing, DLC:GW; Varick transcript, DLC:GW.
1. The resolution of 23 Jan. required “That the commissary of prisoners reside at the head quarters of the army, that he shall make no exchange of prisoners but such as shall be directed by Congress, the board of war, or commander in chief: That all future instructions respecting his department shall be transmitted to him through the commander in chief: That where [when] ever the commissary shall think it necessary to send a flag into the enemy’s lines with provisions for the prisoners or on any other business, he shall make application to the commander in chief who will judge of the cause and the propriety in point of time and other circumstances” (copy, DLC:GW; see also 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 , 13:110; the latter source includes a clause also authorizing the marine committee to direct the exchange of naval prisoners).
The resolution of 28 Jan. directed GW to inquire into Gen. Henry Clinton’s allegation that some American officers captured by the British had broken their paroles and “if it shall appear to be well founded to take the necessary measures for causing every officer who shall have escaped from captivity in violation of their parole to be returned within the enemy’s line or to order the commissary of prisoners to account in his exchanges for all such officers in such manner as is agreeable to practice; and to the principles which have heretofore regulated exchanges between the two armies; and to report the names of such Officers to the board of war.” In addition, GW was directed “to require from Sir Henry Clinton or officer commanding the british troops, the same degree of justice with respect to the british Officers prisoners to these United States who have broken their parole, which this Congress have directed to be done on their part by the preceding resolution (copy, DLC:GW; see also 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 , 13:133).