George Washington Papers

From George Washington to Elias Dayton, 4 June 1782

Head Quarters 4th June 1782


I am just informed by the Sectry at War that Capt. Asgill of the British Guards, the unfortunate Officer who is destined to be the unhappy Victim to atone for the Death of Capt. Huddy, was arrived in Philadelphia, & would sett off very soon for the Jersey Line, the place assigned for his Execution—He will probably arrive as soon as this will reach you—and will be attended by Capt. Ludlow, his Friend, whom he wishes to be admitted to go into N.York with an Address to Sir Guy Carleton on his Behalf.

You will therefore give permission to Capt. Ludlow to go, by the Way of Dobb’s Ferry into N.York, with such Representation as Capt. Asgill shall please to make to Sir Guy.

At the same Time I wish you to intimate to the Gentleman, that altho I am deeply affected with the unhappy Fate to which Capt. Asgill is subjected—yet that it will be to no purpose for them to make any representation to Sir Guy Carleton which may serve to draw on a Discussion of the present point of Retaliation—that in the Stage to which the Matter has been suffered to run, all Argumentation on the Subject is entirely precluded on my part—that my Resolutions have been grounded on so mature Deliberation, that they must remain unalterably fixed—You will also inform the Gentlemen, that while my Duty calls me to make this Decision Determination, Humanity dictates a Tear for the unfortunate Offering—& inclines me to say that I most devoutly Wish his Life maybe saved—this happy Event may be attained, but it must be effected by the British Commander in Chief—He knows the Alternative which will accomplish it—and he knows that this Alternative only can avert the dire Extremity from the Innocent—& that in this Way alone the Manes of the Murdered Capt. Huddy—will be best appeased.

In the Mean Time while this is doing, I must beg, that you will be pleased to treat Capt. Asgill with every tender Attention & politeness (consistent with his present Situation) which his Rank, Fortune & Connections, together with his Unfortunate State, demand.

DLC: Papers of George Washington.

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