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General Orders, 23 October 1776

General Orders

Head Quarters, White Plains,1 Octobr 23rd 1776.

Parole: Denton.Countersign: Chester.

The Guards of the Camp are to be mounted from the several divisions of the Army—their Numbers to be fixed, and their Posts assigned them, by the General Officers of that division—General Spencer’s division to furnish the Main Guard, Quarter Master General’s and Commissary General’s Guard, Bullock Guard and Provost Guard.2

It has been observed with some Concern, that scouting parties go out without any advanced, or flanking parties, both which are absolutely necessary for their safety and success, and which they must have on all occasions.3

The commanding Officers of regiments should, on all Marches, draw provisions for the Waggoners, who attend them, and give them all possible assistance—When their baggage is unloaded, they should have the Teams drawn up, set a Guard over them, and prevent any loss of the Horses, or abuse of the Drivers, and take care of them ’till they are ordered away.

Any officer, or soldier, who shall presume to meddle with any Horses, belonging to the public, or any other not his own property will be severely punished. And all officers of the army are requested to stop soldiers, who are riding about without Saddles, until they give an Account of themselves; and if they are found breaking Orders, to send the offender to the Guard, and the horse to the Quarter Master General, or to Head-Quarters.

Varick transcript, DLC:GW.

1GW’s headquarters, which had been moved to White Plains the previous day, was located, General Heath says, “on the plain, near the cross roads” (Wilson, Heath’s Memoirs description begins Rufus Rockwell Wilson, ed. Heath’s Memoirs of the American War. 1798. Reprint. New York, 1904. description ends , 86). This headquarters apparently was at Jacob Purdy’s house on the Dobbs Ferry Road (now Spring Street) about half a mile west of the intersection of that road and the White Plains Street (now Broadway), the village’s principal north-south road (see Boatner, Landmarks description begins Mark M. Boatner III. Landmarks of the American Revolution. New York, 1975. description ends , 330, and Lederer, Place-Names of Westchester County description begins Richard M. Lederer, Jr. The Place-Names of Westchester County, New York. Harrison, N.Y., 1978. description ends , 117; see also Rösch, Historic White Plains description begins John Rösch. Historic White Plains. 1939. Reprint. Harrison, N.Y., 1976. description ends , 153–54, 156–58, 161–62, and Hufeland, Westchester County description begins Otto Hufeland. Westchester County during the American Revolution, 1775–1783. White Plains, N.Y., 1926. In Publications of the Westchester County Historical Society, vol. 3. description ends , 128–29). On 28 Oct., the day of the Battle of White Plains, GW’s headquarters was moved north about a mile and a half to the small frame farmhouse occupied by Ann Fisher Miller (c.1727–1819), widow of Elijah Miller (1728–1776) who had died on 21 Aug. from a wound received near Hell Gate while serving as a first lieutenant in Col. Samuel Drake’s regiment of New York militia levies. GW kept his headquarters at Mrs. Miller’s house until 10 Nov. (see GW to Hancock, 11 November).

2At the end of this paragraph, “Williams’ Diary,” 49:55, adds: “30 men from each division to parade tomorrow morning at the court house properly officered to take orders from Lt. Delaware [Lt. Col. Francis Ware?] the same number of fatigue men to parade in the same places tomorrow as this morning.”

3The issuance of this order may have been prompted by a recent friendly fire incident involving two American scouting parties. A detachment of scouts from Lt. Col. Daniel Brodhead’s Pennsylvania rifle battalions which returned to White Plains early this morning reported capturing thirty-four Loyalists and one regular soldier and killing fourteen of the enemy near the British lines. Unfortunately, the riflemen also mistook some of “the Delaware Blues for the enemy,” and six riflemen and nine of Col. John Haslet’s Delaware “Blues” were killed in the ensuing firefight between the two friendly parties (see “McMichael’s Diary,” description begins William P. McMichael. “Diary of Lieutenant James McMichael, of the Pennsylvania Line, 1776–1778.” Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography 16 (1892): 129–59. description ends 137). For GW’s involvement in a similar friendly fire incident near Loyalhanna, Pa., in November 1758, see Orderly Book, 12 Nov. 1758, n.1.

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