George Washington Papers

From George Washington to Abraham Ackerman, 9 October 1779

To Abraham Ackerman

Head Qrs [West Point] Octob. 9. 1779


I have received Your Letter of the 5th Instant—and am much obliged to the Court for their attention in the case of John Springer Junior, and for committing him to the custody of the Sheriff.1 In a few days I shall give such orders about him—as will be consistent with justice and my duty to the public.2 In the mean time he will remain in custody of the Sheriff. His conduct in deserting to the Enemy and bearing Arms for a long time against his Country—would have well justified the severest punishment to have been inflicted upon him; but it was still more criminal, after obtaining a pardon for his past delinquency3—and the indulgence to act as a Waggon Driver at his own particular request and solicitation, that he might not be liable to fall into the Enemy’s hands, a circumstance of which he affected to be much afraid, to attempt in the course of Two or three days to enlist Men for the Enemy’s service and actually prevailed on several to desert. From this trait of his character—I fear there is little ground to expect a reformation in him. There is no sentence against him at this time—which will effect his life or even subject him to corporal punishment—and whether there ever will be one will depend entirely upon himself. I am Sir—with due respect Yr Most Obedt servant


Df, in Robert Hanson Harrison’s writing, DLC:GW; Varick transcript, DLC:GW.

On 30 July, GW’s secretary Robert Hanson Harrison had written to Ackerman: “I have received Your favour to His Excellency, Genl Washington. The conduct of John Springer Junior, after the clemency he experienced from his Excellency, has been at least highly exceptionable; But as he says he has Witnesses to evince his innocence and to prove his attachment—he will be heard and, I am satisfied, treated with all the indulgence his case shall deserve. If he goes to the Enemy and should ever [be] taken—he will not have the smallest possible favour to expect from his Country” (DLC:GW). Ackerman’s letter to GW has not been found.

Abraham Ackerman (Akerman), of Pompton, N.J., was elected a justice of the peace for Bergen County, N.J., in September 1777. In July 1779, he became judge of pleas.

1This letter has not been found.

3John Springer, Jr., had appealed for and received a pardon under the terms of GW’s proclamations to deserters of 10 March and 22 April (see GW to Washington, this date).

4Springer had been court-martialed in July but had apparently escaped from the army (see General Orders, 11 July).

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