George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Moses Hazen, 12 November 1780

Camp West Point November 12, 1780.


I have received your Excellency’s Letter of the 6th Current. It is amazing that a Man of a liberal Education, added to a common natural Understanding should venture his Reputation and Character on such unjust Complaints as are made against me to your Excellency and the Honorable Major General Heath, and then to proceed to the Prosecution before a General Court Martial of Charges on such slender Grounds, as those exhibited against me by Major Reid; a Copy of which your Excellency’s have inclosed. Conscious Innocence has little to fear, and consequently have proposed to Major Reid the making the Complaint to your Excellency a fourth Charge, and to be immediately tried by the Court now sitting on my Trial, which Proposition he has rejected in the Presence of the Court. It was my Lot, and perhaps my Misfortune, to be sent with my Regiment to the Northward on the arduous and hard Service the Campaign 1779, without a proper Supply of Provisions: If I have exerted myself in the Execution of your Excellency’s Orders and Instructions, I ought not to be persecuted for my good Endeavours. Your Excellency will I am persuaded remember my returning from my Command to West Point the last Summer in the latter Part of July, and the cool Reception I at first justly met with; but when I explained the Reasons to your Excellency, and relating that Famine and mere Necessity had at first drove me in from the Woods: That I had made Use of a Part of the Regimental Pay to purchase Provisions, and extended my own Credit to the utmost for that purpose, and finally obliged to retire from the Woods with the Regiment, and send the Soldiers into the Country to work for the Inhabitants for their Subsistence, until a Supply could be had from the new Harvest. Your Excellency seemed to approve of my Conduct, and I returned again to my Command.

The Case, with respect to the first Charge, as it now stands before the Court in Evidence is shortly this: The Paymaster in March 1779 received five Months Pay for the Regiment; two of which was advanced forward of what the Army was paid on Account of the Regiment being detached; when the Paymaster returned to the Regiment, It was under Marching Orders, and a Part of it were on the Rout: Having no Chest or Place of Safety for his Money he requested of me to take Care of it, which I did, and gave my Receipt for the Amount: That he had obtained Permission to go to Boston on some private Business, and was charged with public Business also: That he arrived at Coos about the first of June, and began to pay the Regiment on or about the 15th of the same Month; and that the Money being deposited in my Hands, as he says might have delayed the Payment for a few Days. This is the whole Substance of the Evidence against me on that Charge. Now Sir, I have always avowed that I made Use of Regimental Money, which I paid to the Purchasing Commissary, tho’ not equal to the Amount of the Two Months Advance paid by Your Excellency’s Orders, on Account of the Regiment being detached from the Army, which perhaps would have amounted to about 20,000 Dollars; nevertheless I have the Commissary of Purchase’s Certificate for Seventy-one Thousand and nine Dollars lent him for the express Purpose of purchasing Provisions for the Regiment, expressly certifying that without that Assistance it would have been impossible for him to have supplied my Regiment with Provisions; a Copy of which your Excellency has inclosed. Now, Sir, from private Conferences with your Excellency on Northern Affairs, and all my Letters to you on that Subject, I am persuaded your Excellency will believe that no Exertions in my Power were wanted to execute the Business I had then in charge, the Intention of which as I was then led to believe, being perfectly agreeable to my own political Sentiments and real Wishes.

From what I have here said, and from what your Excellency may further know of the Matter, was I, or was I not, justifiable in a propriating a Part of the Regimental Pay, that accidentally fell into my Hands, to the particular Purpose of purchasing Provisions in order to enable me to execute your Excellency’s Orders? Did or did not, my Conduct in that Case, as well as the general Tenor of it, meet with your Excellency’s Approbation? Have you ever re-paid the Hard Cash disbursed by me for the necessary Expences of gaining Intelligence fom Canada, by your Excellency’s Orders, whilst on that Detachment?

Your Excelleny’s Answer to these Queries, Common Justice in the present Case intitles me to, whether for or against my Conduct. It will be laid before the Court-Martial on my Trial.

I will now take up the Matter of Major Reid’s Complaint to your Excellency, of my making a false Return with Respect to his Rank.

My Regiment was at first raised on a different Footing from any other Parts of the Army. It was a Canadian Regiment without the Union, as will appear by a Resolution of Congress of the 20th of January 1776, and the Establishment thereof.

On the 22nd of the same Month I was elected Colonel Commandant, and Mr Antill Lieut. Colonel of the Regiment, and that the Appointment of Majors, Captains, Subalterns and Staff Officers was left to the Commander in Chief in Canada, with the Advice of the General Officers in that Country, Col. Antill, Mr Price, and myself. The Commissions were sent to Genl Wooster at Montreal, who politely delivered them up to me, saying, that he was a Stranger in the Country, unacquainted with the People, their Customs and Languages; that I was the proper Person to appoint my own Officers.

Having then the full Power of appointing my own Officers, I thought it my Duty to be very cautious in Point of OEconomy, as well as Delicacy in choice of my Officers; and in Conformity with the former, to appoint no more Officers than what I had Money to supply to pay the Bounty of the Men, consequently I issued Recruiting Instructions to about one-third Part of the Officers only; promising Capt. Hay (now Col. Hay and late Quarter-Master at Fish-Kill) that as soon as the Regiment was formed he should be promoted to a Majority, but that he should first try his luck in Recruiting.

Four Hundred and Seventy-seven Men were soon inlisted, and brought into Service in Canada, without the Appointment of a Major.

In this Dismembered Situation of the Regiment in Canada a precipitate Retreat took Place from that Country, and at Crown Point Capt. Hay was promoted to a Majority from my own Authority.

On a Remonstrance by me to Congress of the 27th of September 1776, setting forth the Situation of the Regiment at large, it was resolved on the 23rd of October, of the same Year, That the Regiment under the Command of Col. Hazen should remain on its Original Establishment thereof, and be recruited to its full Complement in any of the Thirteen United States of America; it being then and there mentioned that it was the Terms of which I entered the Service, and that the Regiment did not belong to any particular State, not was there any Additional Expence in the Mode of Officering the same.

The filling up of the Officers as I apprehended was still left with me, consequently I issued my Recruiting Instructions accordingly, to a Number of new Officers, reserving on the Original Principles a Number of Vacancies of Captains and Subalterns as well as the Majorities. Col. Antill and I divided by the North- River. I took the Eastward District, and he the Southward. We then agreed on the Number of Recruiting Instructions that should be issued, and that the filling up of the Majority should be a future Consideration. I went to the Northward, and was unfortunately taken Ill at Albany.

Lieut. Reid, of the then Col. Wayne’s Regiment, who had disagreed with his Colonel, came to Albany with a Recommendation from Major Hay, (who was then stationed at Ticonderoga) for a Company in my Regiment; he was by me referred to Col. Antill at Philadelphia, who gave him Recruiting Instructions, and sent him, on that Service. I had consented that Col. Antill should appoint one Major, and accordingly he appointed Mr John Taylor, a valuable young Gentleman from Virginia. On the 9th of January 1777, or there abouts, Congress appointed Major Hay, of my Regiment, to the Rank of Lieut. Colonel in the Quarter Master General’s Department, and of Course by the then Regulations of Congress superceded his Office in my Regiment. Mr Torrey, the oldest Captain in the Regiment, a Refugee from Canada, and who had inlisted more than a Hundred Men, succeeded to this Vacancy.

Col. Antill, without my Knowledge, and contrary to the System we had laid down, applied to your Excellency to fill up one of the other two Majorities, on which your Excellency was pleased to order one Major Collerus, a Brevet French Officer, to join the Regiment. About this Time through the Interest of Genl Woodford, Col. Antill and Major Taylor, tho’ not without your Excellency’s Knowledge and Approbation, I gave Mr Woodson a Majority. Eighteen Companies only were at that Time in the Regiment, which mustering Seven Hundred and Twenty Men, or thereabouts; two Captains and a Number of Subalterns were then and have ever since been vacant, tho’ the Commissions were and are now in my Possession; the Field Officers compleat in Consequence of taking in a Brevet Officer, and providing for a worthy young Gentleman, Mr Woodson.

Major Collerus disputed Rank with Major Taylor, and as he did not carry his Point was miffed, and left the Regiment. I do not recollect his doing any Duty, being mustered, or receiving any Pay in the Regiment. I was then determined not to fill up that Vacancy, as we still had a large Proportion of Field Officers for the Men in the Field; as Mr Collerus had not been commissioned in the Regiment, was not considered as an Officer of it.

On the 22nd of August Lieut. Col. Antill and Major Woodson, amongst other Officers, were taken Prisoners on Staten Island, which left me with two Field Officers; and immediately after the Battle of Brandywine Major Torrey was taken sick with a Disorder in his Head, which rendered him unfit for Duty: I was about that Time appointed to Command the second Maryland Brigade, and consequently but one Field Officer to my Regiment, consisting of near three Battalions.

On the Evening of the 3rd of October, when the Troops were under Arms to move on to the Attack at Germantown, I pronounced Capt. Reid, over the Heads of several older Captains than himself, a Major to the Regiment, and a few Days afterwards handed him his Commission filled up, and dated the 1st of September 1777; he having been mustered as a Captain for the Month of August in the same Year, by which Commission he has since been mustered and returned by Major Taylor and myself.

In the latter Part of the Campaign 1778 I was called upon to arrange my Regiment under the then present Establishment, which I positively refused doing, representing to the Committee, to your Excellency and to Congress, the Hardship that would attend the young Officers of the Regiment by such Arrangement, consequently Congress took my Petition into Consideration, and on the [  ] of [  ] 1778 resolved, That the Regiment under my Command should remain on its Original Establishment, and that no new Appointments or Promotions of Officers should take Place unless by a further Order of Congress.

This, Sir, is the State of the Regiment from the Beginning; taking up Major Reid’s Rank from a Lieut. down to his present Majority; by which your Excellency will be a Judge, whether I have made a false Return, or Major Reid a groundless Complaint. To re-capitulate the Substance of those Facts, Reid’s Promotion to a Majority was merely Accidental; in Consequence of Lieut. Col. Antill and Major Woodson being taken Prisoners, the Activity of the Campaign, and my having Charge of a Brigade; tho’ my Partiality in his Favour is perhaps unwarrantable; be that as it may; if Major Reid is intitled to Rank in Consequence of Collerus being a few Days in the Regiment, in that Case the whole Line of Promotion in the Regiment must then follow: Reid’s Vacancy as Captain remains yet, with many others to be filled up, and a new Arrangement throughout the whole Officers of the Regiment must take Place.

Altho’ I may have been tedious in Relation of those Particulars, yet I have been as short and as consice as the Circumstances, taking up the whole from the Beginning, would admit. I have the Honour to be, Your Excellency’s most obedient And most devoted humble Servant

Moses Hazen

P.S. The Blank Date Resolution of Congress was I think in the Month of Novr 1778.


DLC: Papers of George Washington.


(Dated) Camp Haverhill Septr 21 1779

This may Certify that I have borrowed and received from Col. Moses Hazen, since he arrived with his Regiment at Charlestown, Seventy-one Thousand and Nine Dollars, for the particular Purpose of purchasing Provisions for the Troops under his Command on the Upper Part of Connecticut River, and those extended in the Woods towards Canada: That without the Assistance of Money, &c., which I have from Time to Time received from Col. Hazen, it would have been impossible for me to have supplied those Troops with the Articles of Flour and other necessary Articles of Provisions.

(Signed) Jona Child A.C. of Purchase

Signed in the Presence of J.H. Hawkins

Fourteenth Novr 1780—Personally appeared before me

John Hawkins being sworn Says that the within Certificate as a True Copy of Signed by Jona. Child A.C. of Purchase Which was Signed In his Presence & Delivered to Col. Moses Hazen and that the same Jona Child was A. Comissary of Purchase.

John H. Hawkins, Serjt Major

Sworn this 14 Day of November 1780 Before me

Jno. Strang D.I. Advte


Copy of Charges for which Col. Hazen in now under Trial.

Novr 13. 1780.

1st For fraudulent Conduct in drawing Money for the Regiment (or Part of the Regiment) and appropriating it to other Purposes without their consent, and by detaining it from them a considerable Time, the Depreciation was so rapid, as robbed them of considerable Sums.

2nd For making false Musters and obliging inferior Officers to make false Musters also.

3rd For ungentleman and unofficer-like Conduct, in exacting advanced Prices from the Regiment for Articles furnished by the Public.

Hereby certy that the above is a True copy of the Charges on which Col. Hazen is now on Tryal.

Jno. Strang D.I. Advocate

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