George Washington Papers
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From George Washington to Brigadier General Alexander McDougall, 20 February 1777

To Brigadier General Alexander McDougall

Head Quarters Morristown 20th Feby 1777

Dear Sir

I am glad to find by yours of the 16th that your Health is sufficiently re-established to enable you to do your duty.

Considering the great dependance which we shall be under the necessity of putting upon Militia for a while longer, we certainly ought not to remove a General Officer from a post, to which, he can, by his influence, draw them when they are wanted. Upon this principle, you were right in waiting an answer, before you forwarded General James Clintons letter to him. I desire it may now be stopped, and that he may continue in the command of the Forts, the Garrisons of which he will endeavour to keep up by all the ways and means in his power, till our regular Troops take possession.

I should [be] very well pleased if Colo. Gilman’s Regiment could be prevailed upon to stay till the middle of March, by any other means than the advance of Money. As I fear that the moment they have got it, they will make use of it to carry them home. If any advance is necessary, I will settle that matter with Major Genl Lincoln when they are discharged.

previous to the receipt of your letter, I had information that Supplies of provisions were going to the Enemy from paramus & Hackinsack, and I wrote to Genl George Clinton, to send a party of Men from his Corps to cover that part of the Country and stop any further practices of that kind.1

I do not apprehend you will be in any danger of an Attack in your quarter for some time yet, as the Enemy from their late Motions are drawing this way. Whenever our Regiments of Artillery are raised, you may depend that the Forts up the River will have their proportion. In the mean time a part of the Men who compose the Garrison might be set apart and exercised in loading and firing the Cannon. This is a shift we are obliged to make, for we have very few regular Artillery men.

I shall write to Connecticut to send in all the Officers who were taken at princetown; which will answer the end of their petition in a manner most agreeable to themselves.2

I will order the Judge Advocate to draw up a Commission empowering you to hold General Courts Martial at your post.3

Having occasion to write to Colo. Livingston; I shall desire him to drop his Expedition for the present, as he may probably be of more use and advantage nearer home.4

I am obliged to you for the information you give me respecting the Behaviour of part of Webbs Regiment; if they have not recd their pay it shall be stopped, but if they have, it will not be the first or greatest imposition that has been put upon the public. I am Dear Sir Your most obt Servt

Go: Washington

LS, in Tench Tilghman’s writing, owned (1997) by Mr. Joseph Rubinfine, West Palm Beach, Florida; Df, DLC:GW; Varick transcript, DLC:GW. The text in square brackets was inadvertently omitted when the letter was copied from the draft.

3A warrant of powers to McDougall, written by Judge Advocate General William Tudor and signed by GW on 21 Feb. 1777, reads: “By Virtue of the Powers given me by Congress as Commander in Chief of all the Forces of the united American States, I have thought fit, for the better Government of the American Forces employed or to be employed on the East Side of Hudson’s River within the State of New York, to authorise & empower, & I do hereby authorise & empower You to publish such Rules & Orders as are fit to be observed by all Officers & Soldiers under your Command; as also to punish all Offenders and Transgressors against the Rules & Articles established for the Government of the American Troops, by Death or otherwise, according to the Nature of their Offences, as they shall appear upon Trial before a Court Martial, which I hereby give You Power to assemble, as often as You shall see Occasion, agreeable to the Rules & Articles aforesaid; and according to their Judgement, You are to cause Sentence to be pronounced against the Person or Persons so offending, either of Pains of Death, or such other Pains and Penalties as shall be thought fit to be inflicted by any such Courts Martial, which Sentence or Sentences You are to cause to be put in Execution, or to suspend the same, as, in your Discretion, You shall see Cause; I hereby giving You Power to reprieve any Person under any Sentence till my Pleasure, or that of Congress be known: And I do hereby give You Power to depute some fit Person to act at General Courts Martial, in the Office of Deputy Judge Advocate” (DS, NHi: McDougall Papers).

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