George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Abraham Skinner, 19 May 1781

New Windsor May 19th 1781


In Obedience to your Excellency’s Commands of the 12th April, I have proposed the Exchange of General Burgoyne and the Ballance of Privates due from the Enemy, for the Officers contained in Mr Loring’s Proposal of the 3d March, which was heretofore transmitted you. This they will not accede to and pointedly refuse to pay the ballance of Privates, notwithstanding their former Engagements.

I inclose for Your Excellency’s perusal a Copy of my Letter to Mr Loring and his answer (No. 1. and 2), by which you will find they are desirous of opposing General Burgoyne against the Prisoners taken at the Cedars, tho’ they have waived that Claim since the meeting of Commissioners at German Town in 1776.

The Enemy appear very desirous of Sending a Flag of Truce from Charles Town to Philadelphia with our Prisoners, and to receive a Number of their Men in return as you will find by the inclosed proposal No. 3.

I have given no Answer to any of those proposals, but have endeavoured to get the Privates out of their hands which they refuse to Release and Assign the most trifling reasons for their Conduct. I shall thank you Sir for your further Commands, as the Prisoners in the Sugar House in New York begin to feel the effects of the hot weather, and as I think the Enemy ought to be pressed to a performance of their Engagements. I am Sir Your mo. Obt Huml. servt

Abm Skinner Comr Genl Prisrs

DLC: Papers of George Washington.


New York May 15th 1781


I am not Authorized to assent to your proposal of the 3d of March last, but am again to propose to You the Exchange of Lieutenant General Burgoyne and the ballance of Privates due to me, against and for the American Officers unexchanged and Prisoners with you as contained in that proposal; for many reasons this Exchange ought certainly to be carried into Execution previous to any other Exchanges whatever; Shou’d you consent to it you will find that there will be Still a Ballance due from you which I am to propose may be applied to the relief of our Officers to the Southward.

I hope you will think this proposal is by no means unreasonable, as the former Objections respecting the Exchange of Lieutt General Burgoyne cannot now be made-- And as you cannot pay us the Ballance of Privates you may give us equivalent in Officers. I am sir Your Mo. Obt Huml. Servt

Abm Skinner Comy Genl Prisrs


New York 15th May 1781


In answer to your Letter of this date respecting the Exchange of Lieutt General Burgoyne I beg leave to repeat the proposal made you on the 29th April for this Gentleman’s Exchange Viz.

Prisoners taken at the Cedars

Valued as per Tariff 747.
One Brigadier General Charlestown Prisr 200
One Colonel 100
Ballce in our favr to be
hereafter accounted for 3

I am with due respect Sir Your most Obedient & most humble Servt

Josa Loring Comy Genl Pris.


New York 17th May 1781

Mr Loring British Commissary General of Prisoners proposes to Mr Skinner American Commissary General of Prisoners to send a Cartel Vessel or Vessels from Charlestown South Carolina in Order to Convey from thence a Number of American Prisoners of War to Philadelphia, provided that on their arrival there, Mr Skinner will engage to deliver a like Number of British and German Prisoners of War as shall be nominated by Mr Loring in Exchange for them, and who are to be (within Eight days after the arrival of said Vessels) Embarked and dispatched with proper passports to proceed to New York.

Mr Skinner will of course Obtain General Washington’s acquiescence to this Proposal & if it should be approved of by him to be ratifyed on his part, and that he will grant the necessary Passports that such Vessels as may be sent from Charles Town on the purposes before mentioned may be Considered as under the sanction of Flags of truce.

Josa Loring Comy General Prisoners.

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