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General Orders, 5 May 1778

General Orders

Head-Quarters V. Forge Tuesday May 5th 1778.

Parole Europe—C. Signs Exeter Eltham.

Aaron Ogden Esquire is appointed Brigade Major in General Maxwell’s Brigade and is to be obeyed and respected accordingly.

Mr Davis Bevan is appointed by the Quarter Master General to super intend the Artificers and to deliver out boards, Plank &c.—in future therefore when boards or Plank are wanting or Artificers are necessary to Do any Jobbs in the Army an order signed by a General Officer, Officers commanding Brigades or Brigade Quarter Masters and directed to Mr Bevan at Sullivan’s Bridge will be duly attended to.1

If there are any Comb-makers in the Army, the Brigadiers and Officers commanding Brigades are desired to make return of them to the Adjutant General.

A Flag goes into Philadelphia next Friday.

At a General Court Martial whereof Majr Tyler was President at the Gulph Mills May 2nd A.D. 1778—John Morrel a soldier in Coll Henry Jackson’s Regiment tried for desertion from his Post while on Centry and unanimously found guilty of a breach of Article 1st Section 6th and Article 6th Section 13th of the Articles of War and unanimously sentenced to be hung by the neck ’till he is dead.2

At a Brigade Court Martial whereof Colonel Bicker was President April 24th 1778—Thomas Hartnet a soldier in the second Pennsylvania Regiment tried for desertion to the Enemy, found guilty & unanimously sentenced to be hung by the Neck ’till he is dead.3

His Excellency the Commander in Chief approves the aforegoing sentences—The General Court Martial whereof Major Tyler is President is dissolved.

After Orders May 5th 1778.

It having pleased the Almighty ruler of the Universe propitiously to defend the Cause of the United American-States and finally by raising us up a powerful Friend among the Princes of the Earth to establish our liberty and Independence upon lasting foundations, it becomes us to set apart a day for gratefully acknowledging the divine Goodness & celebrating the important Event which we owe to his benign Interposition.

The several Brigades are to be assembled for this Purpose at nine ôClock tomorrow morning when their Chaplains will communicate the Intelligence contain’d in the Postscript to the Pennsylvania Gazette of the 2nd instant4 and offer up a thanksgiving and deliver a discourse suitable to the Occasion—At half after ten ôClock a Cannon will be fired, which is to be a signal for the men to be under Arms—The Brigade Inspectors will then inspect their Dress and Arms, form the Battalions according to instructions given them and announce to the Commanding Officers of Brigades that the Battalions are formed: The Brigadiers or Commandants will then appoint the Field Officers to command the Battalions, after which each Battalion will be ordered to load & ground their Arms.

At half after eleven a second Cannon be fired as a signal for the march upon which the several Brigades will begin their march by wheeling to the right by Platoons & proceed by the nearest way to the left of their ground in the new Position; this will be pointed out by the Brigade Inspectors—A third signal will be given upon which there will be discharge of thirteen Cannon; When the thirteen has fired a running fire of the Infantry will begin on the right of Woodford’s and continue throughout the whole front line, it will then be taken on the left of the second line and continue to the right—Upon a signal given, the whole Army will Huzza! “Long Live the King of France”—The Artillery then begins again and fires thirteen rounds, this will be succeded by a second general discharge of the Musquetry in a running fire—Huzza!—“And long live the friendly European Powers”—Then the last discharge of thirteen Pieces of Artillery will be given, followed by a General runing fire and Huzza! [“]To the American States.”

There will be no Exercise in the morning and the guards of the day will not parade ’till after the feu de joie is finished, when the Brigade Major will march them out to the Grand Parade: The Adjutants then will tell off their Battalions into eight Platoons and the commanding officer will reconduct them to their Camps marching by the Left.

Major General Lord Stirling will command on the right, the Marquis De la fayette on the left and Baron De Kalb the second line—Each Major General will conduct the first Brigade of his Command to its ground, the other Brigades will be conducted by their commanding Officers in separate Columns—The Posts of each Brigade will be pointed out by Baron De Steuben’s Aids—Majr Walker will attend Lord Stirling—Major De Eponsieu the Marquis De la Fayette and Captain Lanfant5 the Baron De Kalb—The line is to be formed with the Interval of a foot between the files.

Each man is to have a Gill of rum—The Quarter-Masters of the several Brigades are to apply to the Adjutant General for an order on the Commissary of Military stores for the number of blank Cartridges that may be wanted.6

Varick transcript, DLC:GW.

1Davis Bevan (1738–1818) was a Quaker merchant and tavern keeper of Chester, Pennsylvania.

2Section 6, article 1 of the articles of war decreed that “All officers and soldiers, who having received pay, or having been duly inlisted in the service of the United States, shall be convicted of having deserted the same, shall suffer death, or such other punishment as by a court-martial shall be inflicted” (JCC description begins Worthington Chauncey Ford et al., eds. Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774-1789. 34 vols. Washington, D.C., 1904–37. description ends , 5:792). Section 13, article 6 reads: “Whatever sentinel shall be found sleeping upon his post, or shall leave it before he shall be regularly relieved, shall suffer death, or such other punishment as shall be inflicted by the sentence of a court-martial” (ibid., 5:797). Morrel was pardoned on 6 May; see the General Orders of that date.

3Lt. Samuel Armstrong of the 8th Massachusetts Regiment wrote in his diary on this date: “I mounted the Provost Guard, there w[as] two Men brought in Irons under sentence of Death” (Boyle, “Armstrong’s Diary,” description begins Joseph Lee Boyle. “From Saratoga to Valley Forge: The Diary of Lt. Samuel Armstrong.” Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography 121 (1997): 237–70. description ends 268).

5Pierre-Charles L’Enfant (1754–1825) was promised a commission as lieutenant in the engineers under the terms of an agreement between Silas Deane and Philippe Du Coudray in December 1776. L’Enfant left France in early 1777, and by August he had made his way to Charleston, S.C., where he assisted in building fortifications before proceeding to York, Pennsylvania. In November 1777 Congress granted him pay according to the rank of lieutenant, as well as funds for passage back to France (JCC description begins Worthington Chauncey Ford et al., eds. Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774-1789. 34 vols. Washington, D.C., 1904–37. description ends , 9:876–77). Instead of returning home, however, L’Enfant served as Steuben’s aide at Valley Forge, apparently with the temporary rank of captain. In April 1779 Congress commissioned him a captain of engineers dating from February 1778. After being wounded during the siege of Savannah in October 1779, L’Enfant went back to Charleston, where he was captured in May 1780, not being exchanged until the beginning of 1782. Congress granted him a brevet commission of major in May 1783, and he returned to France later that year. While there, he designed the emblem of the Society of the Cincinnati for GW, returning in April 1784 to New York, where he executed several commissions, including the conversion of the old City Hall into Federal Hall. In March 1791 he arrived in Georgetown to begin his commission to design the Federal City (Washington, D.C.).

6Private Elijah Fisher of the 4th Massachusetts Regiment wrote in his journal on 6 May: “We had Rejoicing on the account of the French declaring for us Independent and the howle of the Continental army was ordered to three larm posts in the senter and the army was all around us at there several stations (and there was a grand harber bilt and all the Commissioners were Envited to dine with His Exelency) our guard gave the first fire then thirteen Cannon then the fire began at the rite of the army and went through the howl line and fired three rouns apeace the Artillery Discharged forty-four Cannon and it was followed with three Chears for the Thirteen United States of Amarica and His Exelency gave orders that every Prisoner should have his Freedom that belonged to the Continental army that they might taste the Pleasur of the Day” (Godfrey, Commander-in-Chief’s Guard description begins Carlos E. Godfrey. The Commander-in-Chief’s Guard: Revolutionary War. Washington, D.C., 1904. description ends , 7–8).

Joseph Clark wrote that there was “a general invitation of the officers of the army to dine with His Excellency in the centre of the camp, where several remarkable toasts were drunk. The day was spent in mirth and rejoicing, and in very good order. The officers returned to their regiments, and took particular care of their men to be in readiness, lest the enemy should surprise us in our mirth” (Clark, “Diary,” description begins “Diary of Joseph Clark, Attached to the Continental Army, from May, 1778, to November, 1779.” Proceedings of the New Jersey Historical Society 7 (1853-55): 93–110. description ends 105). GW relied on Col. Daniel Morgan’s rifle corps to provide security during the celebrations. Tench Tilghman wrote Morgan on 6 May: “His Excellency desires that you will towards Evening send out patrols under vigilant officers to keep as near the Enemy as they possibly can. They are to continue out all Night and untill 10 OClock tomorrow. The Reason of this is, that the Enemy may think to take Advantage of the celebration of this day. The troops must have more than the common quantity of liquor and perhaps there will be some little drunkenness among them” (NN).

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