George Washington Papers

From George Washington to Brigadier General William Maxwell, 28 April 1779

To Brigadier General William Maxwell

Hd Qrs Middlebrook 28 April 1779


Your letters of the 25 and 26th came duly to hand with their inclosures.1

I have considered the Court Martial held at New-Ark of which Major Piatt was president; and as John Malcom appears from the face of the evidence to have been the most active and criminal in the transaction, I have therefore confirmed his sentence of death and inclosed a warrant for his execution. McDonald appearing less guilty, I have thought proper to remit his punishment. And in compliance with the recommendation in favor of Curry I have also remitted his sentence.

Malcom’s execution should be as soon as possible, on the principle I mentioned in my former letter.2 I am sir your most hble servt

Go: Washington

P.S. Mr Hopkins an inhabitant of the State of Maryland having received the Councils sanction to an interview on our lines with a person with the enemy—you will therefore send in such letter as he may write for obtaining this purpose; informing Mr Hopkins who will wait on you of the place, which you may judge most proper for the interview on our lines. An officer will attend on the occasion.3


LS, in James McHenry’s writing, sold by Sotheby’s, New York, catalog no. 7914, item 195, 20 June 2003; Df, in James McHenry’s writing, DLC:GW; Varick transcript, DLC:GW. Only the final page of the LS, consisting of the final paragraph and the postscript, is pictured in the Sotheby’s catalog; the remainder of the transcription has been taken from the draft.

1GW apparently is referring to Maxwell’s letters of 26 and 27 April.

2The sentences were carried out on 30 April; see Maxwell to GW, 1 May.

3James Hopkins of Talbot County, Md., wrote to governor Thomas Johnson on 28 March that he had applied to GW for a pass to New York in order to collect £3,000 that the British Board of Longitude had awarded him for the invention of a navigational quadrant, and that GW had referred him to Johnson (MdAA; see also Peter Adams to Johnson, 29 March, also MdAA). The Maryland Council wrote to Brig. Gen. William Smallwood on 13 April: “The Resolution of this Board is to permit those who have applied for Leave to go into New York, to go no farther than the Lines, and from this we have but seldom departed, and in this Case we wish not to add to the Instances, not from a Suspicion of Mr Hopkins’s Attachment to America, but because the Season for the Enemys taking the Field is near at Hand. We wish to put an entire Stop to a Communication that may be productive of bad Consequences; we therefore as Mr Hopkins is on the Spot, wish you would make the necessary Application to his Excellency Genl Washington to promote an Interview, on the Lines, betwixt him and any Person or Persons he may name” (Md. Archives description begins Archives of Maryland. 72 vols. Baltimore, 1883–1972. description ends , 21:345).

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