George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Rufus Putnam, 4 February 1783

Huts, 3d Mass. Brigade February 4th 1783


Agreeable to your Excellency’s letter of the 2d Instant, I ordered a court to enquire into the validity of Mr Hobby’s claim of a negro man now serving as a soldier in the 3d Massachusetts Regiment.

Enclosed are the circumstances of the negro’s enlistment, and the opinion of the court thereon. I have the honor to be—Your Excellency’s most Obedt & very humble servant

R. Putnam, B. Genl

DLC: Papers of George Washington.


3 February 1783

At a Court of inquiry held in the 3d Masstts Brigade Feby 3d 1783 of which Major Knap is President

Capt. Williams Members Capt. Sumner
Capt. Heywood Capt. Clayes

The Court having met according to order, proceeded to enquire into the claim of Mr Jona. Hobby to the property of Richd Hobby a Negro Soldier of the 3d Masstts Regt in the course of which it appears that the said Negro was legally purchased as a slave by the said Mr Hobby in the year 1777—That in Jany 1781, said Hobby being absent without the state, the said Negro was inlisted as a Soldier for three years, by a class in the Town of Concord where he then lived, and that said Hobby was not knowing nor consenting to this inlistment.

The court though they are of opinion that said Negro is the property of Mr Hobby; yet as he was sent into the continental service under the authority of the State; and as he must have been regularly passed by a Muster Master appointed by them, he no doubt had instructions given him for the rule of his conduct: the Court are therefore of opinion, that the said Negro ought to be holden to serve ’till he has compleated the terms of three years; unless the state should send another man in his room, and that if Mr Hobby should conceive himself injured thereby he ought to apply to the state for his remedy.

Moses Knap Majr

and President

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