George Washington Papers

General Orders, 19 August 1775

General Orders

Head Quarters Cambridge, August 19th 1775

Parole Jersey.Countersign Kendal.

Col. Samuel Gerrish of the Massachusetts Forces, tried by a General Court Martial of which Brigadier Genl Green was Presdt is unanimously found guilty of the Charge exhibited against him, That he behaved unworthy an Officer; that he is guilty of a Breach of the 49th Article of the Rules and Regulations of the Massachusetts Army. The Court therefore sentence and adjudge, the said Col. Gerrish, to be cashiered, and render’d incapable of any employment in the American Army—The General approves the sentence of the Court martial, and orders it to take place immediately.1

Varick transcript, DLC:GW.

1Gerrish was court-martialed for failing to repel a recent attack on Sewall’s Point by a British floating battery. “The rascals can do us no harm,” Gerrish is reported to have said, “and it would be a mere waste of powder to fire at them with our four-pounders” (Richard Frothingham, History of the Siege of Boston, and of the Battles of Lexington, Concord and Bunker Hill [Boston, 1851], 179). Gerrish had previously been accused of acting in a cowardly manner at the Battle of Bunker Hill. During the latter stages of the fighting, he allegedly panicked his men by shouting, “Retreat! retreat! or you’l all be cutt off!” (Richard M. Ketchum, The Battle for Bunker Hill [Garden City, N.Y., 1962], 126). Gen. Artemas Ward, however, ignored complaints about Gerrish’s behavior at Bunker Hill, excusing him “on account of the unorganized state of the army” (Frothingham, Siege of Boston, 179).

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