George Washington Papers

General Orders, 16 May 1782

Head Quarters Newburgh Thursday 16 May ’82

C. Signs

The General is extremely concerned to learn that an Article so salutary as that of distilled Liquors was expected to be when properly used, and which was designed for the comfort and refreshment of the troops has been in many instances productive of very ill consequences—He calls the attention of officers of every grade to remedy these abuses and to watch over the health of their men, for which purpose he suggests the expedient of keeping liquor Rolls in every Corps, from which the Name of every soldier shall be struck off who addicts himself to drunkenness or injures his Constitution by intemperence. Such soldiers as are Struck off are not to draw liquor on any occasion, but are to receive other articles in lieu thereof—The Quarter Masters upon receiving such commuted Articles are to receipt for the ful amount of the rations included in the returns: that there may no irregularity in the Accounts.

The vile practice of swallowing the whole ration of liquor at a single draught is also to be prevented by causing the Serjeants to see it duly distributed daily and mixed with Water at stated times; in which case instead of being pernicious it will become very refreshing and salutary—An object so essential to the health of the Men ought not only to be super-intended by the Officer of Police, as it is worthy to attract the attention of every Officer who is anxious for the reputation of the Corps to which he belongs, the welfare of individuals and the good of service—But it rests principally with the Commandants of Corps to have so useful a regulation carried effectually into execution, as well as to preserve cleanliness, oeconomy and good order, within the spheres of their respective commands.

Major General Heath will be pleased to settle with the Brigadiers and Commanding Officers of Brigades the quantity of liquor proper to be drawn in hand by the troops, after which he is authorized to commute by agreement with the Contractors the rations of Whiskey or such proportions of them as may be Judged Necessary, for Vegitables or other articles agreeably to the prices fixed in the Contracts to the component parts of rations.

DLC: Papers of George Washington.

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