George Washington Papers

General Orders, 1 August 1775

General Orders

Head Quarters, Cambridge, August 1st 1775.

Parole Gibralter.Countersign Fairfield.

The General thanks Major Tupper, and the Officers and Soldiers under his Command, for their gallant and soldierlike behaviour in possessing themselves of the enemy’s post at the Light House, and for the Number of Prisoners they took there, and doubts not, but the Continental Army, will be as famous for their mercy as for their valour.1

Two Subs. two serjeants, one Drum and thirty Rank and File, to parade at Head Quarters at Noon; to escort the prisoners to Worcester. The Commanding Officer will receive his orders from the Adjutant General.2

For the satisfaction of all concerned; The General directs the following Resolution of the Legislature of this Colony to be inserted in General Orders. viz:

“In House of Representatives, Watertown 29th July 1775.

“Whereas sundry Complaints have been made, by some of the Soldiers raised by this Colony, that they have not received the allowance pay of Forty Shillings, agreeable to the Resolution of Provincial Congress,3 therefore Resolved, that a Committee be appointed forthwith, to apply to the Colonels of the several Regiments, raised by the Colony, and to the Muster Masters and Pay Masters in the Camp, at Cambridge and Roxbury; and obtain of them a compleat List of the Non Commissioned Officers and Soldiers, in their respective regiments, distinguishing those that have been muster’d and paid; from those that have not, that such Methods may be pursued, as shall remove all just ground of Complaint—read and ordered, that Colonel Cushing and Mr Webster,4 with such as the Honorable Board shall join, be a Committee for the purpose above mentioned.

“Sent up for concurrence.

James Warren, speaker.

“In Council, read and concurred, and Col. Lincoln5 is join’d.

Albt P: Morton, secy.”6

The Officers commanding Massachusetts Regiments, will pay all due Attention to the foregoing resolution.

One Man a Company, to be appointed a Camp Colour man, from every Company in every Regiment in the Army, whose particular duty it must be to attend the Quarter Master and Quarter Master serjeant, to sweep the Streets of their respective encampments, to fill up the old necessary Houses and dig new ones, to bury all Offal, Filth, and Nastiness, that may poison or infect the health of the Troops; and the Quarter Masters are to be answerable, to their Commanding Officers for a strict observance of this order, and by persevering in the constant and unremitted Execution thereof, remove that odious reputation, which (with but too much reason) has stigmatized the Character of American Troops. The Colonels and Commanding Officers of Regiments, are to be answerable to the General, for all due obedience to this order.

The General finding it is not uncustomary, for Officers to take the Liberty, of absenting themselves from Camp without leave, and going home; for the future, any Officer found guilty of so glaring an Offence, against all Order and Discipline, and setting so bad an Example to the Non Commissioned Officers and Soldiers, under their Command; such Officer or Officers so offending, may depend upon being punish’d with the utmost severity.

Least the late Successes against the Enemy, should occasion any relaxation in the Alertness of the Troops, the General recommends it in the strongest manner, to all the Officers and Soldiers of the Continental Army; to be the more vigilant in their duty, and watchful of the enemy; as they certainly will take every advantage of any supiness on our part.

Varick transcript, DLC:GW.

1This attack on the Lighthouse Island in Boston Harbor occurred early on the morning of 31 July. After Maj. Joseph Vose’s party burned the lighthouse on 20 July (see William Heath to GW, 21 July 1775), the British began rebuilding it, and by the night of 29 July their work was “in such forwardness as Actually to shew a Light” (James Warren to John Adams, 31 July–2 Aug. 1775, in Taylor, Papers of John Adams description begins Robert J. Taylor et al., eds. Papers of John Adams. 17 vols. to date. Cambridge, Mass., and London, 1977–. description ends , 3:108–12). To destroy the new light and stop further construction, Maj. Benjamin Tupper set out with 300 men in whaleboats from Nantasket late on 30 July. They landed on Lighthouse Island about two o’clock the next morning, and after subduing the British marines stationed there, they burned all of the buildings on the island. For GW’s and Tupper’s accounts of the raid, see GW to Hancock, 4–5 Aug. 1775 and n.14. Benjamin Tupper (1738–1792), a resident of Chesterfield who served as an enlisted man during the French and Indian War, was appointed major of Col. John Fellows’s Massachusetts regiment in April 1775. During July he participated in three raids: the one of this date on Lighthouse Island, one on Brown’s house at Boston Neck on 8 July, and one on Long Island on 11 July. See GW to Hancock, 10–11 July 1775, Document II. Letter Sent, n.5, and 14 July 1775, n.5. In January 1776 Tupper became lieutenant colonel of the regiment commanded by Col. Jonathan Ward, and in July 1777 he was promoted to colonel. He commanded one or another of the Massachusetts regiments until the end of the war, fighting at Saratoga and Monmouth among other places.

2The prisoners captured on Lighthouse Island consisted of: 2 marine sergeants, 2 marine corporals, 20 marine privates, and 12 Loyalists. In his orders of this date to the officer commanding the guard detachment, Horatio Gates specified that the prisoners were to be delivered to the chairman of the Worcester committee of safety, who was then to order a detachment of the local militia to escort them to Springfield where they were “to be Secur’d, so as to be forthcoming whenever an Exchange of prisoners, or a happy reconciliation between Great Britain and her Colonies shall take place” (DLC:GW). The prisoners marched out of Cambridge about nine o’clock this morning and arrived in Worcester on 3 Aug. (“Stevens Journal,” description begins “The Revolutionary Journal of James Stevens of Andover, Mass.” Essex Institute Historical Collections 48 (1912): 41–71. description ends 53).

3The Massachusetts provincial congress authorized this advance pay for the colony’s noncommissioned officers and privates on 20 May 1775 (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 , 246).

4Joseph Cushing (1732–1791), a lieutenant colonel in the militia, represented Hanover, and Jonathan Webster, Jr. (1747–1826), represented Haverhill in the provincial congress.

5Benjamin Lincoln (1733–1810) of Hingham was a lieutenant colonel in the Suffolk County militia. He served in all three provincial congresses and was elected to the council on 21 July 1775. In February 1776 Lincoln became a brigadier general of the militia, and the following May he was promoted to major general. Lincoln’s administrative abilities soon attracted GW’s attention, and on his recommendation, Lincoln was commissioned a Continental major general in February 1777. He was wounded at Saratoga in the fall of 1777 and was captured at Charleston in the spring of 1780. After his exchange Lincoln participated in the Yorktown campaign, and from 1781 to 1783 he served as secretary at war.

6Artemas Ward’s orderly book reads “Attest. Perez Morton Secr’y” (MHi: Ward Papers). The resolution that appears here is nearly identical in wording to the version approved by the Massachusetts council on 29 July (“Mass. Council Journal,” July 1775–Feb. 1776 sess. description begins In Journals, Minutes, and Proceedings, State of Massachusetts Bay, 1775–1780. (Microfilm Collection of Early State Records.) description ends , 15). The version that the house of representatives passed earlier on that date varies somewhat from the council’s, but the differences are minor (Mass. House of Rep. Journal, July–Nov. 1775 sess description begins A Journal of the Honorable House of Representatives of the Colony of the Massachusetts-Bay in New-England. Watertown, Mass., 1775. (Microfilm Collection of Early State Records). description ends ., 22). For the General Court’s further actions regarding advanced pay, see Committee of the Massachusetts Council to GW, 11 Aug. 1775, n.2. Perez Morton (1751–1837), a young attorney from Boston, was appointed temporary secretary of the council on 26 July 1775. When Samuel Adams was named permanent secretary on 10 Aug., Morton became his deputy, and because of Adams’s long absences, he continued to perform most of the duties of the office until he resigned on 1 June 1776. During the Rhode Island campaign of 1778, Morton acted as an aide-de-camp to John Hancock.

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