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General Orders, 4 April 1780

General Orders

Head-Quarters Morristown tuesday April 4th 1780.

Parole Qualify— C. Signs Refugees. Recruits—

The proper season being arrived, it is to be hoped the weather will soon admit of a regular course of manœuvring1—The regulations established by Congress for the “Order and discipline of the troops”—are so instructive and at the same time so simple and easy, that no officer, emulous of being acquainted with his duty and who will devote a reasonable portion of his time to informing himself can fail to acquire a competent knowledge2—The General flatters himself that every officer will exert himself to this end, conscious that the want of such knowledge will not not only be highly disreputable, but may be productive of fatal consequences at some important moment—Commanding officers of Corps are immediately to put their new and undisciplined men in training, and see that the business is conducted conformable to the regulations—All battalion officers, to captains inclusively are, without loss of time, to provide themselves with Espontoons3—they are to apply in the first instance to the Quarter Master General for such as may be in his possession, and if not furnished there, to the Field Commissary of Military Stores4—Those who have been already supplied by the public, and are now destitute, are to provide themselves.

None are to mount guard or go on detachment without being armed with Espontoons, to which the officers of the day will be particularly attentive; nor after a reasonable time being allowed to procure them, is any officer to appear with his regiment under arms, without an Espontoon, unless he can shew that he has not been able to obtain one.

For the execution of this order the Commandants of regiments will be responsible.

Varick transcript, DLC:GW.

1GW reported the weather at Morristown between 3 and 5 April in his diary entries for those dates: “3d. Clear and more moderate than yesterday—though the ground was very hard froze in the morning. Wind still fresh from the West & No. West.

“4th. Lowering in the Morning with little or no Wind. Clearer afterwards with the wind pretty fresh from the No. East.

“5th. Morning clear & rather cold wind being pretty fresh from the No. East. In the evening it turned warmer” (Diaries description begins Donald Jackson and Dorothy Twohig, eds. The Diaries of George Washington. 6 vols. Charlottesville, Va., 1976–79. description ends , 3:350).

2GW wanted his officers to study Steuben, Regulations description begins [Friedrich Wilhelm von Steuben]. Regulations for the Order and Discipline of the Troops of the United States. Philadelphia, 1779. description ends , which had been distributed throughout the Continental army since 30 June 1779 (see General Orders, that date). GW previously had directed officers to absorb and implement the regulations in the general orders for 9 Oct. 1779 and 12 Feb. 1780.

3For the requirement that “platoon officers” be armed with espontoons, see Steuben, Regulations description begins [Friedrich Wilhelm von Steuben]. Regulations for the Order and Discipline of the Troops of the United States. Philadelphia, 1779. description ends , 5. GW earlier had directed line officers who fought on foot to equip themselves with espontoons (see General Orders, 12 Oct. 1779).

4GW had ordered the quartermaster general and commissary general of military stores to submit a return of espontoons (see General Orders, 13 Feb. 1780).

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