George Washington Papers

From George Washington to Abraham Skinner, 5 December 1781

Philadelphia 5th Decemr 1781.


You will proceed immediately to Elizabeth Town, and, agreeable to Mr Lorings proposal, endeavour to effect the exchanges of such of our Officers as remain unreleased, for part of the British and Foreign lately taken at York in Virginia.

Where a similarity of Rank will not apply, you will proceed, as usual, upon the modes of composition—with this reserve only, that you are, in as delicate a manner as possible, to wave the exchange of Lord Cornwallis for the present. Should the British Commissary refuse to enter upon the Business on account of the detention of Lord Cornwallis, you will report to me, without loss of time.

General O’Hara, you will observe, is returned as a Brigadier only, when I am pretty confident, that he has been announced in the New York papers as a Major General, by Sir Henry Clintons appointment. You will make the proper enquiry into this matter.

There are sundry Officers and privates remaining prisoners in Canada, whose release I wish to effect, and for which purpose I some time ago wrote to General Haldemin, proposing to him to send them to New York, that they might be exchanged from thence—but I have received no answer. I would wish you to endeavour to fall upon some means of having them included in the present business.

You will find among the prisoners of York and Gloucester. a number of persons who come under no military description, but who are, by the capitulation, subjects of exchange. You may set them against any persons of the Class of Citizens who may be in the hands of the enemy, or against our marine prisoners. I am Sir your most obt Servt

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