George Washington Papers

General Orders, 12 July 1775

General Orders

Head Quarters, Cambridge, July 12th 1775

Parole, Falmouth.C. Sign, Worcester.

The Adjutant General will deliver at orderly time, a certain number of printed returns, to the Adjutant of each regiment; so that no excuse can for the future be admitted, for not making regular and exact Returns when demanded; as it is only filling up the Blanks, with the Numbers proper to be placed in them. The Commander in Chief will not for the future, admit of any palliative for making a false return, and is resolved, to bring any Officer of what Rank soever, to a Court Martial who is found delinquent.

When any Trumpeter, or Flagg of Truce, is sent from Boston, or any Post occupied by the Enemy; they are to be stop’d by the first Sentry they are permitted to approach, who is to call for the Serjeant of the Guard, who will conduct them to the Officer of his guard, and such Trumpeter, or Flagg of Truce, is not to be allowed to stir one step beyond that Guard. The Officer commanding the Guard, will send any Letters or Messages brought from the enemy, immediately to the Commander in Chief, and no other person.

A General Court Martial of the Line to sit at Head Quarters, in Cambridge, to morrow morning at Nine OClock, to try Col. Scammons of the Massachusetts Forces accused of “Backwardness in the execution of his duty, in the late Action upon Bunkers-hill.” The Adjutant of Col. Scammons regiment, to warn all Evidences, and persons concern’d to attend the court.1

Col. Nixon president of the above Court.

Varick transcript, DLC:GW.

1James Scammans (c.1740–1804) of Biddeford, District of Maine, marched his regiment about noon on the day of the battle toward Lechmere’s Point to prevent a British landing there. Near the point Col. John Whitcomb, then acting as a Massachusetts general, informed Scammans that the enemy was not threatening that place and directed him to march elsewhere. Whitcomb testified at the court-martial that he told Scammans to go to “where he could do the most service,” but several of Scammans’s officers and men said that Whitcomb ordered Scammans to go to “the hill,” which most understood to be a small rise near Prospect Hill, about a mile from Bunker Hill. Scammans, being of that opinion, posted his regiment on the small hill and sent two sergeants to Bunker Hill to inquire if he was needed there. After a short wait at the small hill, Scammans on his own initiative marched his regiment to Bunker Hill, where he found matters in great confusion. Scammans’s regiment never got close enough to engage the British, but most witnesses agreed that Scammans himself showed no signs of backwardness and encouraged his men to advance up the hill before finally ordering a retreat in the face of the rapidly deteriorating situation. On 17 July the court-martial acquitted Scammans (Historical Magazine, 2d ser., 3 [1868], 400–402; General Orders, 18 July 1775). Scammans resigned from the army at the end of 1775.

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