George Washington Papers

General Orders, 11 July 1775

General Orders

Head Quarters, Cambridge, July 11th 1775

Parole, Guilford.Countersigns: Counter-Sign, Hartford

The Court Martial of which Col. William Prescott was president is dissolved. A General Court Martial to be assembled at Cambridge, as soon as possible, to try such prisoners as shall be brought before them: All Evidences, and persons concern’d to attend the court.

The General understanding, there is a bad Custom prevailing, of the Non-Commissioned Officers and soldiers absenting themselves from Guard, under pretence of going for Provisions; it is therefore order’d, that all Officers and Soldiers, bring their provision to the Guard they mount, and on no pretence quit their Guard, untill it is regularly dissmissed.1

Notwithstanding the orders of the provincial Congress, some persons are so daring as to supply the Soldiers with immoderate Quantities of Rum, and other spiritous Liquors; any Sutler, Tavern-keeper, or licenced Innholder, who shall presume after the date of this order, to sell to any non-commissioned Officer, or Soldier, any spiritous liquor whatsoever, without an Order in writing, from the Captain of the company to which such non-Commissioned Officer and Soldier belongs; he or they so offending, may expect to be severely punished.2

Lieut: Col. Ward president of the Court Martial.

Varick transcript, DLC:GW.

1This order was repeated in General Orders, 24 July 1775, because of a lack of full compliance with it.

2On 6 July the Massachusetts provincial congress, acting in response to a letter from Maj. Gen. Nathanael Greene, appointed a committee to study the matter of liquor sales to soldiers, and two days later the following resolution was approved: “The Congress having taken into consideration the difficulties and troubles which have [arisen] and daily are arising in our camps, by reason of divers evil-minded persons selling spirituous liquors, . . . therefore, Resolved, that if any licensed person shall, after the 15th instant, presume to sell any spirituous liquors to any soldier, without a permit from the captain, or commanding officer of the company he belongs to, specifying the quantity, he shall, for the first offence, forfeit his license, and for the second, suffer such punishment as shall be inflicted on him or her, by a court martial.” The next day the committee of safety resolved: “Whereas, a number of soldiers in the American army, are from time to time, observed to be much disguised with spirituous liquors, and should not some effectual measures be taken to put a stop to this disorder, not only the morals and health, but also the lives and liberties of this people will be endangered; therefore, . . . that it be, and it is hereby recommended to his Excellency General Washington, that an order be issued to suppress retailers of spirituous liquors within and near the camps, in such manner as to him may seem meet” (Mass. Prov. Congress Journals description begins William Lincoln, ed. The Journals of Each Provincial Congress of Massachusetts in 1774 and 1775, and of the Committee of Safety. Boston, 1838. (Microfilm Collection of Early State Records). description ends , 461, 475, 590–91).

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