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General Orders, 13 August 1776

General Orders

Head Quarters, New York, August 13th 1776.

Parole: Weymouth.Countersign: York.

Thomas Henly and Israel Keith Esqrs. are appointed Aid-de-Camps to Major General Heath; they are to be respected and obeyed accordingly.1

The Court Martial to sit to morrow, for the tryal of Lieut: Holcomb of Capt. Anderson’s Company, Col. Johnson’s Regiment, under Arrest for “assuming the rank of a Captain & mounting Guard as such.”2

The Colonels of the several Regiments, or commanding officers, are to send their Quarter Masters to the Laboratory for the Ammunition Cart to be attached to each Regiment with spare Ammunition; to have it posted in some safe and proper place near the Regiment so as to be ready at a moments warning—The Horse and Driver, to be also kept near the regiment. It is the Quarter Master’s duty to attend to this and in case of action to see the Cartridges delivered as they are wanted.

The Enemy’s whole reinforcement is now arrived, so that an Attack must, and will soon be made; The General therefore again repeats his earnest request, that every officer, and soldier, will have his Arms and Ammunition in good Order; keep within their quarters and encampment, as much as possible; be ready for action at a moments call; and when called to it, remember that Liberty, Property, Life and Honor, are all at stake; that upon their Courage and Conduct, rest the hopes of their bleeding and insulted Country; that their Wives, Children and Parents, expect Safety from them only, and that we have every reason to expect Heaven will crown with Success, so just a cause. The enemy will endeavour to intimidate by shew and appearance, but remember how they have been repulsed, on various occasions, by a few brave Americans; Their Cause is bad; their men are conscious of it, and if opposed with firmness, and coolness, at their first onsett, with our advantage of Works, and Knowledge of the Ground; Victory is most assuredly ours. Every good Soldier will be silent and attentive, wait for Orders and reserve his fire, ’till he is sure of doing execution: The Officers to be particularly careful of this. The Colonels, or commanding Officers of Regiments, are to see their supernumerary officers so posted, as to keep the men to their duty; and it may not be amiss for the troops to know, that if any infamous Rascal, in time of action, shall attempt to skulk, hide himself or retreat from the enemy without orders of his commanding Officer; he will instantly be shot down as an example of Cowardice: On the other hand, the General solemnly promises, that he will reward those who shall distinguish themselves, by brave and noble actions; and he desires every officer to be attentive to this particular, that such men may be afterwards suitably noticed.

General Greene to send for ten of the flat bottomed Boats which are to be kept under Guard at Long Island: No Person to meddle with them, but by his special order.3

Thirty seven Men (Sailors) are wanted for the Gallies.

Eighty men properly officered and used to the sea, are wanted to go up to Kingsbridge with the ships and rafts. They are to be furnished immediately and parade with Blankets and Provision, but without Arms, at General Putnam’s, at two o’Clock, and take orders from him.

John Gardner of Capt: Trowbridges Company,4 Col. Huntington’s Regiment, tried by a General Court Martial, whereof Col. Wyllys was President and convicted of “Desertion,” ordered to receive Thirty-nine lashes.

John Morgan of Capt. Johnson’s Company, Col. McDougall’s Regiment, tried by the same Court Martial, & convicted of “sleeping on his post,” sentenced to receive Thirty lashes.

Francis Claudge of Capt: Speakmans Company,5 Col. Glovers Regiment, tried by the same Court Martial and convicted of Desertion and re-inlistment—sentenced to receive Thirty nine lashes; thirteen each day successively.

The General approves each of the above Sentences and orders them to be executed at the usual times and places.

The Court of inquiry having reported that Lieut. Mesier had behaved unbecoming an officer to one of superior rank; the Court directed a Court Martial, unless he ask pardon of the officer he affronted: But that officer having represented to the General, that he is willing to pass it over: The General, at his request, orders Lieut: Mesier to be discharged.

After Orders. Col. Miles and Col. Brodhead’s Regiments of Riflemen, to discharge and clean their rifles, to morrow at Troop beating, under the inspection of their officers.

Col. Smallwoods and Col. Atlee’s Battalions, of Musquetry, to fire at the same time, with loose powder and ball.

Varick transcript, DLC:GW.

1Israel Keith (1751–1819), a native of Easton, Mass., served as an aide-de-camp to Heath until November 1777 when he became deputy adjutant general for the eastern department. Keith resigned from the army in April 1778 to study law, and in March 1780 he was admitted to practice before the superior court of Massachusetts. Later in 1780 Keith became an aide-de-camp to John Hancock, and after the war he served for several years as adjutant general of the Massachusetts militia.

2Jacob Holcomb (1741–1820) and John Anderson (1731–1797), both of Hunterdon County, N.J., served as officers in Gen. Nathaniel Heard’s brigade of New Jersey militia levies from June to December 1776. For the verdict of Holcomb’s court-martial, see General Orders, 15 August. Philip Johnson (1741–1776) of Hunterdon County, a veteran of the French and Indian War, was appointed by the provincial congress on 14 June 1776 as lieutenant colonel of the regiment of militia levies that was raised in Hunterdon and Somerset counties to reinforce the Continental army at New York, and on 1 Aug. he was promoted to colonel of the regiment in place of Stephen Hunt who resigned on grounds of ill health (Force, American Archives description begins Peter Force, ed. American Archives. 9 vols. Washington, D.C., 1837–53. description ends , 4th ser., 6:1620, 1643, 1657). Johnson was killed in the Battle of Long Island on 27 Aug. when “he received a ball in his breast” while directing the fire of his regiment (ibid., 5th ser., 1:1251).

3The next day Greene ordered these boats brought to Myford’s Ferry on Long Island to transport troops arriving from New Jersey and Connecticut (see Showman, Greene Papers description begins Richard K. Showman et al., eds. The Papers of General Nathanael Greene. 13 vols. Chapel Hill, N.C., 1976–2005. description ends , 1:286–87).

4Caleb Trowbridge (1748–1799) of New Haven was a captain in the 1st Connecticut Regiment during 1775 and continued serving after 1 Jan. 1776 as a captain in Col. Jedediah Huntington’s 17th Continental Regiment. Taken prisoner at the Battle of Long Island on 27 Aug., Trowbridge was not released until almost two years later despite Gov. Jonathan Trumbull’s persistent efforts to have him exchanged (see GW to Jonathan Trumbull, Sr., 1 Feb. 1777, Trumbull to GW, 27 June 1777, Ct: Trumbull Papers; Trumbull to GW, 26 Feb. 1777, DLC:GW; and Middlebrook, Maritime Connecticut description begins Louis F. Middlebrook. History of Maritime Connecticut during the American Revolution, 1775–1783. 2 vols. Salem, Mass., 1925. description ends , 2:90). In 1781 Trowbridge became captain of the Connecticut privateer Firebrand and made two voyages to Holland during which he captured at least two prizes.

5Gilbert Warner Speakman, who owned a tanhouse in Marlborough, Mass., before the war, served as a captain in Col. John Glover’s 14th Continental Regiment from January to December 1776 and as commissary of ordnance for Massachusetts from 1777 to 1780.

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