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Circular to the Commanding Officers of Various Pennsylvania Regiments, 16 May 1777

Circular to the Commanding Officers of Various Pennsylvania Regiments

Head Quarters Morris Town 16. May 1777.

Sir

When I wrote you on the 12th March (to which no answer is yet received) directing a return of your Battalion, the inoculation of your men who had not had the small pox, and the sending immediately to the Army such as had it under proper Officers,1 I hoped to see a considerable part of your Battalion in the Feild before this. But the last return of it, now at [ ] informs me that I was mistaken.2

Our present situation compels me to order you to repair to your Battalion. Justice to it, and to the Service, calls upon you to do so without loss of time. Such of your Recruits, as are equipped and over the small pox, must follow under proper Officers. You will leave your Lieutt Colo. behind, to superintend the recruiting Service, and provide all necessaries,3 with positive orders to exert his utmost activity in the discharge of this important duty, and to see that the inferior Officers do not spend their time in dissipation, as I am told is too generally the case.4 I am &ca

G. Washington

Varick transcript, , addressed to colonels Richard Humpton of the 11th Pennsylvania Regiment, James Irvine of the 2d Pennsylvania Regiment, and Joseph Wood of the 3d Pennsylvania Regiment DLC:GW; Varick transcript, , addressed to Col. Anthony James Morris of the 9th Pennsylvania Regiment and lieutenant colonels Henry Bicker of the 6th Pennsylvania Regiment, and Daniel [David] Grier of the 7th Pennsylvania Regiment; Varick transcript, , addressed to Lt. Col. Adam Hubley, Jr., of the 10th Pennsylvania Regiment; LS (photocopy), addressed to Lt. Col. David Grier, in Alexander Hamilton’s writing, NjP: Armstrong Collection; LS, addressed to Grier, sold by Parke-Bernet Galleries, Inc., New York, sale no. 1851, item 268, 5–6 Nov. 1958; copy, quoted in Grier to William Irvine, 19 May 1777, PHi: William Irvine Papers. For variations in the wording of the letters to the various officers, see notes 1, 2, 3, and 4.

Lieutenant colonels Bicker, Grier, and Hubley commanded their respective regiments at this time in the absence of their colonels. Colonels Robert Magaw of the 6th Pennsylvania Regiment and William Irvine of the 7th Pennsylvania Regiment were unexchanged prisoners of war. Col. James Chandler left the 10th Pennsylvania Regiment in April to be colonel of the 1st Pennsylvania Regiment, and he had not been replaced yet.

These letters apparently were the ones that GW’s aide-de-camp George Johnston sent on this date to General Schuyler at Philadelphia. “They are left unsealed for your perusal,” Johnston says in his covering letter to Schuyler, “that the Order they contain may not interfere with any of yours; If they do not, I must beg the favour of you to have them delivered with Expedition, having first sealed them” (DLC:GW).

1See Circular to the Colonels of Various Continental Regiments, 12 Mar. 1777. A note on the Varick transcript to Humpton, Irvine, and Wood reads: “N.B. The Parenthesis left out to Cols Irvine and Wood.” Specific regiments are given in place of the words “your Battalion” in the Varick transcript to Morris, Bicker, and Grier (“the 6th Pennsylvania Battalion”), the Varick transcript to Hubley (“the 10th Pennsylvania Battalion”), and the LS to Grier (“the 7th Pensylvania Battalion”).

2The Varick transcript to Hubley reads: “But the last return of it, now at Boundbrook, informs me that I was mistaken.” The Varick transcript to Morris, Bicker, and Grier and the LS to Grier read: “But the last general return informs me that I was much mistaken.” The “g” in “general” is capitalized in the LS.

3The first part of this paragraph in the Varick transcript to Morris, Bicker, and Grier reads: “Our present situation compels me to order you and Major Benezel to march with all the Battalion that have got over the small pox, and are equipped. Justice to the Service, calls upon you to do so without loss of time; you will leave behind a sufficient number of proper officers to carry on the recruiting business, under the direction of a Captain, of approved Integrity and diligence.” The wording in the LS to Grier is identical except “Major Hay” replaces “Major Benezel.”

4This sentence in the Varick transcript to Hubley reads: “You will leave behind a sufficient Number of Officers to carry on the recruiting Service, under the direction of a Captain, of approved Integrity and diligence, with positive orders to exert his utmost activity in the discharge of this important duty, and to see that the recruiting officers do not spend their time in dissipation as, I am told, is too generally the case.”

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