George Washington Papers

To George Washington from William Stephens Smith, 25 February 1783

Dobbs’s ferry 25th Feby 1783


When in New York, several of the Inhabitants of Long-Island, and others who have advanced money to our officers, while Prisoners, waited on me for a settlement of their accounts, being inform’d by Mr Skinner, that he had Lodged the papers, and every thing respecting their affairs in my hands, and that they must apply to me for a Settlement.

I was obliged to inform them, that Mr Skinner had never mentioned the matter to me, nor deliverd any papers relative to the business—they produced the inclosed Letter No. 1 from Mr Skinner to them, and a Copy No. 2 of Your Excellency’s Letter to him, of the 4th of July 1782 (these respect the Board [   ] the Inhabitants) from whence it appears Mr Skinner was authorized to settle the account—But has only amused them by promises which he has left unperformed, and has attempted to throw the weight of his failure on my shoulders. The inclosed No. 3 are Copies of Letters from Mr Macnair & Co. merchants on Long Island with their account-Current—No. 4 is a Copy of a Letter and account of the Doctor who attended them—from these Letters your Excellency will observe the light in which Mr Skinner is view’d, and the improper finese he has made use of to evade a settlement.

From my acquaintance with the Character of Doctor Bainbridge, Mr Macnaire & others, who assisted the Prisoners, I must observe, they are entitled to every attention in our power to shew them, and I should be happy to be enabled to settle the accounts, to their satisfaction. I am Your Excellency’s Most Obedt Servt

W.S. Smith Lt Colo.

DLC: Papers of George Washington.



Phillips House July 19th 1782


I am happy in having had an Opportunity of Recieveing from you at this Place Lists of the Monies due from the Amirican Officers While prisoners on Long Island agreeable to his Excellency General Washington Commands The Vouchers produced for those monies due are Sufficient. And I will do Every thing in my power to have my Engagements fulfilled, and also for The Payment of the private Debts. I find in Some of the Lists Charges Against Officers who have made their Escape and Otherwise Evaded, giving their Landlords orders on me for Acceptence, and for the Payment, of their Demands. this you may Depend Shall be Attended to & Rest Satisfied Every kind of Justice will be done those Gentlemen who have taken care of the Amirican Officers that have unfortunately been in Captivity. I am Gentlemen with Great respect Your Mo. Obt & Hble Sert

Abm Skinner

Commy Genl Prisr.

To Jeremiah Van Der Bilt Rutgert Van Brunt Johannis E. Lott. Adriaen Van Brunt Johannis I. Lott Esquires Appointed for the Liquidation of the American Officers Account for Boarding & while Prisoners on Long Island.



New York Feby 6th 1783


we wrote to Colo. Skinner last september respecting the Debts due to us by the American officers who were exchanged in the year 1780, inclosing the proven list thereof, amounting to £790.10.1 N. York Cury all which we are inform’d were put into your hands.

We now take the liberty to address you again on that Subject, and to disire the favor of you to lay the matter before his Excellency General Washington from whose Justice & Humanity we presume every attention will be paid to our solicitation.

We shall not advance any arguments for our desiring payment, at this time, of the whole or any part which you may think proper to send us, We only beg leave to mention, that the articles we furnished were not imported by us from Europe, but were purchased of our freinds here, and that we have, long ago, been obliged to pay the money for them to our very great injury and inconvenience: We therefore intreat you will, as speedily as possible, use your influence in our favor, and so confer on us a lasting obligation. We are very respectfully sir Your most hume Sert

Ralph Macnair & Co.



New York Feby 19. 1783


About two years past, when your officers that were prisoners on Long Island left this place, a number were indebted to me for medicine (attendances I never charged them for) immediately on Mr Skinner’s arrival at N. York some wrote to him, and when he came to Flat Bush all requested him to pay me, for they could not think of leaving L. Island ’till I was paid.

When I delivered in the Account several of the officers desired me to make them larger, for they were certain I could not afford to attend them at that rate—my answer was, I did not wish to make money by Gentlemen in their situation, all that I desired was to be paid for medicine, my advice, and attendance they were welcome to.

Mr Skinner thanked me very politely for the Attention shewn the officers, and assured me on his honor that he would not leave N. York without paying me—And all that I had to do was to write a receipt, and (if it was inconvenient for me to go to New York the next day) give it to Mr Winslow Dy Comy of Prisoners—I gave the receipt to Mr Winslow, but Mr Skinner saw proper to go out without paying me—a few months after he came to this place again, I waited on him, and told him that I was greatly surprized he had not paid me—he made some trifling excuses, that an Ensign in the British Army owed him, that he would give me an order on Major Brewen (Major Brewen had positively refused advancing any money for Said Ensign)—He at length gave me his note for the amount of my account, and desired me to send it out to Elizabeth town by any safe opportunity and he would most assuredly pay me, I wrote to him repeatedly but without receiving either money, or answer-- The last Winter I went with a flag to Eliz: town, I hired a man and horse to carry a Letter to Mr Skinner-- his answer was that he was sick abed—after being detained there by a snow storm and the Ice, I returned to New York half a dozen Guineas poorer than I went—some short time after I saw Mr Skinner here—He told me he was exceeding sorry that I had been kept out of my money so long, but that he was determined to make no more excuses, and he would not only pay me my account, but would reimburse me the expence I was at going to Eliz: town If I would send out my Account and receipt by the first flag—I told him I did not wish to be paid more than my account with the interest which would make it about £50, the answer I receiv’d from Mr Skinner at Eliz: town by a Gentleman that went in a flag in two or three weeks after, was, that I ought to be paid, but he did not know when, or whether ever.

It gave me real satisfaction to hear you was appointed in Mr Skinner’s place, a Comy Genl Prisoners should be a gentleman, a man of honor and capable of feeling for the distresses of his fellow creatures.

I must beg that our former friendship may apologize for my troubling you with this long account of Mr Skinner’s Conduct, and that you will be obliging enough to inform me whether I may expect to be paid. My best wishes for your Health & Happiness I am Your Mo. Obt Hume Servt

A. Bainbridge

Principal £44.19.4




New York February 21st 1783.


We beg leave to Address you on a subject of very great importance to us: and to inform you that many of the American officers who were prisoners on Long Island in the years 1779 and 80 were accustomed to frequent our store at Flatt Bush in order to purchase necessaries for their comfortable subsistence while seperated from their Friends by the Calamities of War; and that a considerable number of these gentlemen were reduced to the disagreeable necessity of leaving the Island when exchanged in the latter end of the year 1780 and beginning of 1781 without having it in their power to discharge the Debts they had unavoidably incurred in their distressed situation.

Those Debts were mostly contracted early in 1780 after it was known that regular supplies had been voted by Congress to the officers who were then prisoners and before any suspicion was entertain’d of their not arriving in due time; and We should be wanting in justice to these gentlemen if we did not mention—That as their apprehension of a disappointment encreased the greater part of them refrained from applying except for articles of absolute necessity. To the last, We believe their Expectation of supplies exceeded their hope of an Exchange, and it is pleasing to us to think, that, with many, the circumstance of their going out, without discharging their accounts, was some drawback upon the satisfaction of being soon to rejoin their friends in the Country.

General Irving of Philadephia, Colo. McGaw of Pennsyla, Colo. Ramsay of Maryland and Colo. Matthews of Virginia were on Long Island at that time, were acquainted with our business and were uniformly of opinion that the public funds of the United states were bound for the discharge of these debts and even sollicited and obtained paroles in order to expedite the supplies voted by Congress for that purpose.

some time ago we were favored with a copy of the recommendation of his Excellency General Washington to Colo. Skinner respecting Debts due by the American officers [t]hen exchanged: We therefore agreeable to the principles of that recommendation now inclose you a proven List of the Debts due to us amounting to £790.10.1 New York Currency. However trivial this sum may appear to a public treasury yet we can with truth aver to you, Sir, that in our present circumstances it has become almost necessary to our subsistence and that the want of it has distressed us more than is necessary to be repeated.

We have attempted in the list to point out the different states, to which the officers belonged; there may be some mistakes in that respect but we believe not many: a number of Debts were settled by notes of hand, some of which expressly bear interest, several Gentlemen gave orders on Colo. Skinner part of which are accepted absolutely others conditionally and some are not accepted at all either for want of an opportunity to present them or because he thought it unnecessary perhaps in expectation that he would soon discharge the whole: One only he became security for by signing the note of hand. the greatest number have open accounts of which there are few that have not got the bills; and we can assign no other reason why so many are in that state, but the belief of their [being shortly] after paid and the difficulty of meeting with every one as they were exchanged, by reason of our removal to this City previous to their departure.

We hope you will excuse us for being so explicit with you at this time and allow us to assure you sir that the miscarriage of our Letter to Colo. Skinner with a proven List dated in september last has given us much uneasiness and has rendered it proper to make you thus better acquainted with the Circumstances of these transactions.

As an Apology is necessary for detaining you from other business so long—We shall now conclude requesting the favor of you to state these matters to his Excellency General Washington near whose person we doubt not are some Gentn who may recollect our names and will join you in recommending our Case to His Excellency’s attention. However we leave the mode of application entirely to your Wisdom & prudence and We have the Honor to be sir Your Mo. Obt & Hble Servts

Ralph Macnair & Co.

Amount of Debts due by the American Officers (late prisoners of War) on Long Island


The Officers of the 9th Virginia regiment commanded by Colo Matthews

Captains G. Gilchrist per note 9. 16.
Lieutents Woodson accot 5. 5. 5
Snead " 4. 1. 8
Teacle " 5. 11. 3
T. Payne " 13. 4. 6 1/2
Parker " 8. 6. 10 1/2
Ensigns Robins " 45. 3. 9
Darby " 10. 8. 1 1/2
Coverly " 1. 10.
Jo. Payne an order 20. 5. 10
The above List delivered to Colo. Matthews 123. 13. 5 1/2
Novr 29. 1780.
Robins a small ballance (omitted) 6. 2
123. 19. 7 1/2

Officers from Virginia of other Regiments

Major Willis per conditional acceptance
of Mr Henry Mitchell which the
Major has not complied with 43. 4. 0
" order on Mr Hill not accepted 18. 8. 0
F. Brickle per accot 11. 10. 6
Clark " 1. 16. 4
Field " 1. 7. 4
Rodgers " 4. 7. 3
Ed. Smith " 6. 15. 5
J. Smith " 13. 4.
Worman " 2. 5. 7
102. 18. 5
226. 18. 0 1/2

Officers from No. Carolina

Caps. Armstrong per accot 8. 18. 5
Anderson " 9. 3. 10
18. 2. 3

Officers from Maryland

Captains The Baron d’[Ubreitzt] in Colonel
Armand’s Legion— Notes and an Order
on Abr. Skinner Esgn C.G.A.P. 10. 16. 3
Jo. Button ditto ditto 3. 12. 1
Croxall Abm Skinner Esgn Security 59. 12. 3
Chisely per account 6. 5. 10
Grace " 9. . 6
Hillary " 2. 7. 3
Lucket per note 19. 10. 1 1/2
Lyles per note & order on A.S. Esgn C.G.A.P. 12. 10.
[Le Vacher] do do 12. 12. 11
Orendorff per note 8. 1. 5
Simmes per Accot O. 2. 17.
147. 5. 7 1/2
Major A. Giles per note to McNair & Smith 12. 10. 10
159. 16. 5

Officers from Pennsylvania

Colonel Antill per Order on A. Skinner Esgn
Comy Genl Am. Priss accepted 38. 3. 4
Captan Anderson per note 1. 6. 6
Blewer per Accot 4. 4. 1 1/2
Carter " 4. 5. 8
Curson order 5. 3. 3
[Craig] note & order on A.S. Esgn CGAP 10. 16. 5
Crawford do & do on do accepted 4. 4. 10
Decker (a watch less) per Accot 9. 18. 6
J. Finlay per note 12. 14. 3
Grice per Accot 4. 0. 7
Galt " 5. 10. 10
Hackenberg per note 5. 13.
Hambright " 12. 17. 0
Harper per Accot 10. 8. 10
[Jameson] balance . 4. 2
Lindsay " . 16. 6
Murfits Order on A.S. Esgn Comy per note 23. 10. 10
Rudolph " 6. 19. 5
Standley " 30. 4. 5
Stotesbury " 9. 6.
Willing " 11. 8. 4 1/2
Wright per Accot . 9. 6
212. 6. 4

Officers from New Jersey

Capt. Holmes per note 19. [6]. 0
Parsons per Accot 7. 16. 3
Paul " 4. 18. 10
31. 15. 1

Officers from New York & Eastward

Captain Garret N. Yk staff departmt per accot 1. 15. 1
Swartout do 2. 6.
A. Thomson per note 14. 12. 6
E. Hopkins Connt " 86. 15. 9
Asa Lay " " 9. 16. 10
Niles " per Accot 3. 9. 6
Whiting " " 2. 8. 1
Sheariman Rho. Isld " 2. 10. 8
Bliss Massachusetts " 9. 7. 10
Fenno " " 1. 19. 6
Walker " " 5. 10. 2
141. 11. 11
£ 790. 10. 1
New York Jany 1st 1781

Ralph Macnair & Co.

City of New York Feby 21 1783

Ebenezer Macnair one of the partners of Ralph Macnair & Co. being duly sworn on the holy Evangelists of Almighty God Deposeth and saith that the several sums in the forgoing List on this and the two preceding pages and amounting in the whole to seven hundred and ninety pounds ten shillings and one penny New York Currency are justly due and owing by the respective persons as therein mentioned.

Eben. Macnair

Sworn before me Wm Walton

Magiste of Police

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