To Brigadier General Henry Knox
[Morristown, New Jersey, January 30, 1780]
The General ⟨consents to – –⟩ officers to recover your deserters and to reimburse their reasonable expences. He only makes two conditions, that you will send as few as possible & that they keep and exact and particular account of their expences.
The sentence of The Court Marti⟨al⟩ will probably be determined tomorrow; it is too late for to day’s orders.1
I am ordered to return you the inclosed and to tell you, that if a couple of 18 or a couple of twelve pounders can be spared it will be well to send them, but that two of each will probably be more than we afford & may not be essential. You are the best judge of the quality of stores necessary and will take yr measure accordingly.2
I have the honor to be Yr. most hum ser
ALS, Hamilton Papers, Library of Congress.
1. This is a reference to the court-martial of Major General Benedict Arnold.
George Washington’s general orders, which were not issued until April 6, 1780, read: “At a General Court Martial whereof Major General [Robert] Howe was President, held on the 1st. of June last at Middle Brook and afterwards at Morristown from the 23rd. of December to the 26th. of January, in consequence of a resolution of the Honorable the Congress, for the trial of Major General Arnold on the following Articles contained in the proceedings of the Executive Council of the State of Pennsylvania at the City of Philadelphia the 3rd. of February 1779. Vizt.
“First. ‘That while in the Camp of General Washington at Valley Forge last spring, he gave permission to a Vessel belonging to persons then voluntarily residing in this City, with the enemy, and of disaffected characters to come into a Port of the United States without the knowledge of the authority of the State or of the Commander in Chief tho’ then present.
“2nd. In having shut up the Shops and stores on his arrival in the City, so as even to prevent officers of the army from purchasing, while he privately made considerable purchases for his own benefit as is alleged and believed.
“3rd. In imposing menial offices upon the sons of Freemen of this State, when called for by the desire of Congress, to perform militia duty, and when remonstrated to hereupon, justifying himself in writing upon the ground of having power so to do. For that when a citizen assumed the character of a soldier, the former was intirely lost in the latter, and that it was the duty of the militia to obey every order of his Aids (not a breach of the laws and constitution) as his (the General’s) without judging of the propriety of them.
“4th. The appropriating the waggons of this State, when called forth upon a special emergency last autumn, to the transportation of private property and that of Persons who voluntarily remained with the enemy last winter, and were deemed disaffected to the Interests and Independence of America.’” (GW description begins John C. Fitzpatrick, ed., The Writings of George Washington (Washington, 1931–1944). description ends , XVIII, 222–23).
The Court acquitted Arnold of the second and third charges, found him guilty of the first and last charges, and sentenced “him to receive a reprimand from His Excellency the Commander in Chief” (GW description begins John C. Fitzpatrick, ed., The Writings of George Washington (Washington, 1931–1944). description ends , XVIII, 225). On February 12, 1780, Congress confirmed the sentence (JCC description begins Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774–1789 (Washington, 1904–1937; Reprinted, New York, 1968). description ends , XVI, 161–62), and on April 6, 1780, Washington stated in his general orders: “The Commander in Chief would have been much happier in an occasion of bestowing commendations on an officr who has rendered such distinguished services to his Country as Major General Arnold; but in the present case a sense of duty and a regard to candor oblige him to declare, that he considers his conduct in the instance of the permit as peculiarly reprehensible, both in a civil and military view, and in the affair of the waggons as ‘Imprudent and improper’” (GW description begins John C. Fitzpatrick, ed., The Writings of George Washington (Washington, 1931–1944). description ends , XVIII, 225).
2. No evidence has been found concerning the destination of the artillery and stores mentioned in this paragraph, but they may have been intended for Fort Pitt. On January 4, 1780, Washington wrote to Colonel Daniel Brodhead, who was commanding officer at Fort Pitt: “I shall write to the Board of War recommending you may be supplied with a few pieces of Artillery and a proportion of Stores to be ready against there may be a call for them” (GW description begins John C. Fitzpatrick, ed., The Writings of George Washington (Washington, 1931–1944). description ends , XVII, 351). See also Washington to the Board of War, February 8, 1780 (GW description begins John C. Fitzpatrick, ed., The Writings of George Washington (Washington, 1931–1944). description ends , XVII, 502); Brodhead to Lieutenant Colonel Archibald Lochry of the Pennsylvania militia, May 10, 1780 (Mary C. Darlington, Fort Pitt and Letters from the Frontier [Pittsburgh, 1892], 235–36).