George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Major Daniel Whiting, 12 May 1779

From Major Daniel Whiting

Fort Alden Cherry Valley [N.Y.] May 12th 1779

Honourd Sir

I would beg Leave to Lay Before Your Excellency some matters of Grievance this regimt Lies under—When we were orderd to this post a bout a Year Ago, we were surroundd with the savage Enemy & a More Dangerous Enemy the Tory Inhabitants who Supplyd the Savages with provision & Every nec[e]ssary to enable Them to fight against us Before our Late Colos. Death1 He Sent out Capt. Ballard with a party as far as the Butternuts who Brott off from Among the Enemy some Disaffected People With some Stock, some of Whom were Actually Found in Arms Against us, Those people were sent To Albany For Tryal (Agreable to Genl Starks orders the copy Of which with Other papers relative to the Matter is Inclosd)2 The Effects were securd Untill their Conduct were Inquird into But the Civil Authority Set them at large without tryal Notwithstanding they Might have been supplyd with Abundt Evidence of their being Enemys. They Also gave them the Benefit of the Civil Law to Sieze any Officer of Regimt for Fellony, when ever they were down on buisnes Which has been done more than once, & so far do the Civil Authority uphold those villans that were they to take capt. Ballard in Albany I Believe they would take his life For Obeying not only his Colos., But generals orders I have Wrote to General Clinton on the Ill usage recievd but he Has not Been pleasd to take so much notice of it as to give an Answer on the subject, pray yr Excellencys direction in the Matter3 If yr Excellency Should think it Consistant with the Good of The Service Should under our present Curcumstance Esteem it a Singular favour We might be permited to Join our Brigade.

Danl Whiting Maj.


1Col. Ichabod Alden of the 7th Massachusetts Regiment had been killed during a raid by Loyalists and Indians on Cherry Valley on 11 Nov. 1778; see Edward Hand to GW, 13 Nov. 1778.

2Six enclosures have been identified. The first, a copy of a letter from Brig. Gen. John Stark to Capt. William Hudson Ballard, dated 4 July 1778 at Albany, reads: “I Received yours of the first Instant and Concerning those Disafected persons if they Will not Come Within the lines and Swallow the oaths of Allegiance with a good Stomach you must take the trouble to Bring them in & use your utmost Endavours (by usage becoming Such Villins) to make them (after a Season) Valuable Subjects (DLC:GW).

The second enclosure was a copy of a letter from Col. Ichabod Alden to Ballard, dated 7 Aug. 1778 at Cherry Valley: “You Will proceed With the Party Under Your Command Taking Directions for Your rout of those persons that are With You as Pilats You Will Indeavour to make Discoveries and Git all the Intilligence Possable of Brant and his Party if You Discover Any Party of the Ennamy and Judge them To be to Strong for You to Ingage you Will Return and Report to me.

“You Will Take all precaution on Your march to prevent the Enemy from Taking Advantage By ambushing Your rout if You Find any of the Effects of Tories or Persons Gon to the Enemy You will Secure the Same by bringing them into this Gareson also Tories or any of the people Which You have Good Evidence have or are Desposed to assist and Saport the Enemy Likewise Such Persons With their Effects as You think are Greatly Esposd to the Enemy” (DLC:GW).

The third enclosure was a copy of a letter from Stark to Alden, dated 15 Aug. 1778 at Albany: “I Receivd Yours of the 12th Inst. and am glad To Hear of the Success of your Scout a few such Strokes Will make the Enemy watch their frontier & give no peace Those Forces You Sent I shall take Care that shall be Properly Treated & as for the plunder that Capt. Ballards Scout has taken that did belong to the Enemy You will Order to be divided amonngst the people that took it If any has fallen into their hands belonging to the honest Inhabitants You will please to diliver it Up to the proper Owners—that Capt. Ballard & his party Chuse Such persons To divide the plunder as they think will do the most Justice To the party—that You order a Court of Inquiry To Examine Into the matter and See what part Ought to be Condemned And what part ought to be Returnd to the Owners—And makes Report to me of Your proceedings.

“You write You have been Obligd to Employ Some of the Inhabitants to assist You in building Your fort—The Account Must be Sent down properly Attested to And I make No doubt but they will be Allowd of—But I Cannot Send you Any Money till I have Orders For So doing—if Your Scouts should be fortinate Enough To fall in with Any more of these painted Scoundrells I think It would not be worth their while To trouble themselves—To Send them To me—your Wisdom and that your Scouts may direct You in that Matter” (DLC:GW).

The fourth enclosure was a copy of the proceedings of a court of inquiry: “At A Court of Enquiry held in the Garrison at Cherry Vally Sepr 10th 1778 By Order of Ichobod Alden Esqr. Colo. Commandant To Enquire into the State of the Effects of Persons Supposed to be inimical to the United States of America & brot into this Garrison By several Scouts. Present Members Leiut. Colonel Wm Stacy[,] Leiut. Colonel Barent Staats[,] Major Daniel Whiting[;] Wm Hickling Clerk. We the Subscribers being Appointed a Court of Enquiry by the Colonel Commandant for the purposes above mentioned did Attend & Examine the Evidances Whose affidavits are here Annexed and are of Oppinion that the horses Cattle Sheep & all other Effects brot in by Capt. Ballard and his party supposed to be the property of Persons Who are Inimical to the United states be Exposed to Public Auction After notice given of time & Place and that the sums that Arrise by the sales be Depositted in the hands of the Commandant untill he Shall Obtain Instructions from Authority or to his Best Judgment dispose of the Same” (DLC:GW).

The fifth enclosure was a copy of a letter from Alden to Stark, dated 30 Sept. 1778 at Cherry Valley: “According to your instructions have Called a Court of Iinquerey in Regard to the Effects taken by my Scout from persons Supposed to Be Enemis to the united States of america the Severral Courts have Directed to advertize the Effects and to Sell them @ a publick Vandue the money to be lodged in my hands unTill further orders—if those peopele which have been Sent Down as Prisoners have had their tryal it may be Determined by your Honour what Shall be Done with the money I understand that a number of those Disafected people which I Sent Prisoners to albany have had their tryal are made prisoners of war and to be Exchanged if that be the Case I Should be Glad to have them Exchangd for those of my Regt who are prisoners with Brant and think it Reasonable it Should be So as they are prisoners taken by my Scouts if your Honour will please to give orders for Sending a flag to Brant in order to make the Exchange Soon perhaps it will be for the Best as no Doubt my officer and Soldiers who are prisoners Suffer much and would Be Very Glad of an Exchange” (DLC:GW).

The sixth enclosure was an extract copy of a letter from Stark to Alden, dated 3 Oct. 1778 at Albany: “yours of the 30th Septr has Come to hand I highly approve your proceedings Concerning the Tory Effects, Should advise you to keep the money in your hands for the present. I shall Reseive the Prisoners in my hands for the Purpose of Exchanging yours with Brant” (DLC:GW).

3Alden had written to GW about this matter on 4 Nov. 1778, a week before his death. GW did not reply to that letter, and no reply to this letter from Whiting has been found. On 26 Nov. 1779, Ballard brought the dispute to GW’s attention again and reported that he was in danger of being prosecuted on a charge of felony (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 , 5:418). GW replied to Ballard on 13 Dec. and on the same day referred the dispute to Gov. George Clinton, commenting that Ballard’s conduct, however irregular, had been only in obedience to the orders that he had received from Alden (DLC:GW). Clinton replied on 21 Feb. 1780 that while he agreed that Ballard had done nothing wrong, he was not in a position to prevent any private suits that individuals might undertake against him (DLC:GW). For other documents relating to this affair, see 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 , 5:413–18.

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