Paramus 26th Apl 1780
May it please your Excellency
Last night a sergant & 14 men of this detachment attempted to Desert to the Enemy, but by timely information, & the Vigilance of the officers, I was fortunate Enough to get Every Man before they got one mile from their Cantoonments, they were all properly armed.
It has been in agitation this some days, & had this Party suceeded in their Attempt, I have Every reason to believe, I should have Lost great Part of the Detachment.
I found it absolutely Necessary to Make an Example of one of them I had taken in order to put a Stop (if possible) to so great a Spirit of Desertion, for which purpose I took opinion of the officers, who were fully of the same, with my own, that an imidiate Example ought to be made, sergant Williams from his Confesion at the gallos fully Convinced me he was a very Proper object & him, I reluctantly, ordered to be hanged.
I do assure your Excellency, it gives me infinite Pain to be reduced to the Necessity of making this Example, & I trust, when I inform you, that nothing but the duty I owe to my Country, & the good of the service, could have possibly induced me to act as I have done that you will fully approve of my Conduct, most Especially when I [Inform]your Excellency, that this Example has made so great an impression on the minds of the soldiers that I have every reason to believe I shall not have any more Disertion, during the Command
the other 14 who made the attempt with the Sergant, now sent to the Provost, many of them are Proper objects, probably Deserve punishment, they are Principaly from York Regts. [ ]
I beg leave to recommend to your Excellency Sargant Saml Higby of the 4th N.York Regt, who giving me this information of those soldiers going to desert, [ ] an Exceding attention good [ ]
I have Nothing to Comunicate to you from Rebecca the Enemy has not been out in this Quarter since I have been at this Post.
I should be glad your Excellency would order me as many Men, as I have now sent to the Provost—to Compleat this Detachment.
Inclosed I send you a List of the Prisoners [Names] and the regt to which they Belong. I have the honor to be your Excellency[s] Most obdt & very Hble servt
DLC: Papers of George Washington.