George Washington Papers
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From George Washington to Henry Laurens, 1 April 1778

To Henry Laurens

Head Quarters Valley Forge 1st April 1778

Sir

Since I had the honor of addressing you upon the 29th ulto I have not been able to learn, with any precision, whether the transports that arrived brought any considerable number of Troops. A Hessian Deserter says there were only a few German convalescents on board. If so, the Fleet, with 2500 mentioned in my last, is not arrived; supposing they were bound to Philada.

General Sinclair arrived yesterday from Boston, and as he seems very anxious to have his matter determined one way or the other, I beg leave to recall the attention of Congress to my letter of the 27th Feby upon that subject. Having recd no information since that time which serves to direct my judgment as to the charges which it will be proper to exhibit against Genl Sinclair, I have only again to request that Congress or the Committee will be pleased to point out the particular charges upon which the Court shall proceed.1

I could wish this matter might not be delayed, on several accounts. General Sinclair is in a very delicate Situation, and feels it sensibly. He was kept inactive great part of last Campaign, and probably will be the whole of this, except his trial can be shortly brought on, as it will be almost impossible to find time to hold a Court after the scene of Action opens. If he should be acquitted, he would render very essential Service, especially at this time, when we have so few General Officers—If condemned, his place may be immediately filled. It will besides take him some little time to prepare for his defence after he knows the particular Charges alledged against him. I have the Honor to be with the greatest Respect Sir Your most obt Servt

Go: Washington

LS, in Tench Tilghman’s writing, DNA:PCC, item 152; Df, DLC:GW; copy, DNA:PCC, item 169; copy, ScHi: Henry Laurens Papers; Varick transcript, DLC:GW. GW signed the cover of the LS, which is docketed, “read 6”; Congress read the letter on 6 April but took no action on it at that time (JCC description begins Worthington Chauncey Ford et al., eds. Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774-1789. 34 vols. Washington, D.C., 1904–37. description ends , 10:310).

1Congress had read GW’s letter of 27 Feb. on 5 Mar., and on 6 Mar. it had ordered the portion of the letter that “relates to the court martial on the officers in the northern department” referred to a committee of four (JCC description begins Worthington Chauncey Ford et al., eds. Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774-1789. 34 vols. Washington, D.C., 1904–37. description ends , 10:226). That committee reported on 28 Mar., “That General Washington be directed to order a Court of Enquiry to be held upon Major General Schuyler, Major General Sinclair, Brigadier General Poor, and Brigadier General Patterson previous to a trial by Court Martial, and that the Committee at Camp be directed to state the Subject matters of Inquiry” (DNA:PCC, item 19; see also JCC description begins Worthington Chauncey Ford et al., eds. Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774-1789. 34 vols. Washington, D.C., 1904–37. description ends , 10:292). However, consideration of the report was postponed at the request of New York delegate William Duer (see Laurens to GW, 4 April). On 29 April, in response to a letter from Maj. Gen. Philip Schuyler, Congress appointed a new committee “to examine the evidence collected, and state charges against the general officers who were in the northern department when Ticonderoga and Mount Independence were evacuated.” That committee reported on 12 June, stating charges against Schuyler and Maj. Gen. Arthur St. Clair (JCC description begins Worthington Chauncey Ford et al., eds. Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774-1789. 34 vols. Washington, D.C., 1904–37. description ends , 10:403, 11:593–603), and the two generals were tried in September and October. GW is referring in this request to the Continental Congress evacuation committee appointed on 27 Aug. 1777, which had collected the evidence upon which the courts-martial were to be based (see Henry Laurens to GW and Continental Congress Evacuation Committee to GW, both 7 Feb.).

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