George Washington Papers
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From George Washington to Brigadier General Samuel Holden Parsons, 20 March 1777

To Brigadier General Samuel Holden Parsons

Head Quarters Morris Town 20th March 1777

Dear Sir

I am favd with yours of the 23d February, & 6th March.1 So far from allowing the Goods brought off from Long Island to be sold for the Captors or rather plunderers, that if you had not assured me the Officer delivered up all the Goods to you and seemed to think he acted for the best, I should have ordered him to be tryed by a Court Martial for disobedience of Orders. But I desire he may be severely reprimanded and the Goods restored to the Owners, for if such practices are not put a Stop to in the Beginning, we shall have nothing but descents upon the Island under pretence of distressing the Enemy, when in fact it will be to plunder the Inhabitants without respect to Whig or Torey.

The present disposition of the Enemy renders an Attempt upon Long Island dangerous if not impracticable. You had therefore better lay it aside, and content yourself with a Continuance of your Exertion in forwarding the Recruits within your department as soon as they are out of the small pox, during wch time preparations must be made for accoutering them—They must not stay at home till they are as well equipped as they could wish, I fear too many of the Officers make this a pretence for not coming on to Camp. Genl Howe is preparing fast to take the Feild; very little prevents his doing it just now, the badness of the Roads can only prevent him, and they must settle and be passable in a little time. Reinforcements therefore are indispensably necessary. Nothing but innoculation must detain the Recruits. About three Weeks past, Colo. Charles Webbs Son, the Adjutant [to] his Battalion came to this place, told me that his Father had four hundred Men inlisted and procured an Order on Mr Chevers for as many Arms.2 If he has not a sufficient Number of Men to use them all, take the overplus from him and put them into the hands of Men already inlisted. It never was my Intention to give Arms to any Gentleman ’till he had Men to use them immediately—Moreover I have heard lately that there are but slender hopes of Colo. Webb’s raising his Battalion—Please to inquire into this matter & inform me how it stands.

You will observe,3 how essentially necessary it is that I should immediately be furnished with a State of the Battalions—Be so good as to forward the Return within your Department as soon as you can possibly procure it. I am &C.

Df, in the writing of Tench Tilghman and George Johnston, DLC:GW; Varick transcript, DLC:GW. The word in square brackets is supplied from the Varick transcript.

1At this point on the draft the following material has been marked through: “So by which I am surprised to find that mine of the 8th and 10th of the same had not reached, that of the 10th was most material as it respected the innoculation of the Troops, but as you have gone into the Measure, upon Governor Trumbulls informing you that it was my desire, no great inconvenience has attended the miscarriage of the Letter. But least others may have shared the same fate, I will just recapitulate what they contained. I have recommended it to you to purchase all the good Arms that you possibly can and to endeavour to make the Colonels who were out last Campaign account for the Arms they drew for their Regiments. As we are in the greatest want of Men, I have pressed you to send forward all the Recruits who have had the small pox and those who have not as soon as they were recovered and fit to march. Always leaving a proper Number of Officers to compleat the Regiments and bring on the Recruits.”

2Charles Webb, Jr. (b. 1750), of Stamford, Conn., served as an adjutant in the various Continental regiments commanded by his father in 1775 and 1776, and on 1 Jan. 1777 he became the paymaster of Webb’s 2d Connecticut Regiment.

3At this point in the draft the phrase “from the present situation of both Armies” has been struck out.

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