George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Elias Dayton, 14 May 1782

Chatham May 14th 1782


I have received your Excellency’s letter of the 7th with the proceedings of a court martial enclosed, which proceedings the court were of opinion from the nature of the oath they had taken, they could not communicate to any person untill the commander in chief’s pleasure shuld be known, they therefore dispatched them to Head Quarters without my knowledge when your Excellency returned them to me the first time I pointed out to the President the improprieties in them and desired him to assemble the court to reconsider and revise them, they did so and sent them off a second time without my knowledge for the same reasons as before, Under these circumstances therefore I conceive that I cannot be censured for the misconduct and inattention of the court.

Your Excellency’s apprehensions that the Jersey line have been so much neglected as to be unprepared for the field give me no small degree of pain. I am however very happy that an official report of their Appearance and situation is made by Col. Stewart which I flatter myself will quiet your Excellencys Apprehensions, to which I am compelled to observe illnatured reports and misinformations must have given rise. The report of this gentleman will I hope inspire your Excellency with a more favorable opinion of the zeal of the officers of the Jersey line, who are I am confident exceedingly sollicitous to demean themselves in such a manner as may in every instance meet the approbation of their Commander. I have just received the orders for preventing all communication with the enemy by flags, which orders shall be strictly obeyed.

The following was extracted from a London paper of the 2d of April and forwarded to me I thought it very proper that I should transmit it to your Excellency that such attention should be paid to it as should be judged proper.

"In last Thursdays Council the first of the new administration, the expediency of the immediate removal of the chief part of the British Army from the continent of North America was the only matter of importance debated; when the Council came to an unanimous resolve of ordering the Garrisons of New York & Charlestown to be evacuated & the troops to be embarked for St Lucia & Barbadoes under the convoy of the whole British fleet which will be ordered to sail from the West Indies for their protection previous to the setting in of the Hurricane season, towards the Middle of Summer, The necessary transports are now providing for the above service, The Garrisons of Halifax & Quebec are still to be held & strongly reinforced."

The last letters I forwarded from Sir H. Clinton to your Excellency had been five days in my possession & could not have been sent on sooner unless a man had been hired for that particular purpose. I am Yr Excellencys Most Obedient Hbl. Servant

Elias Dayton

DLC: Papers of George Washington.

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