George Washington Papers

General Orders, 13 March 1776

General Orders

Head Quarters, Cambridge, March 13th 1776

Parole Fairfax.Countersign Kent.1

A General Court Martial to sit to morrow morning at ten OClock, All Evidences and persons concerned, to attend the court.

The Riffle Regiment under the command of Lieut. Col. Hand, and the three riffle Companies under the command of Capt. Stephenson, are to be ready to march to morrow morning at ten O’Clock—A Copy of their Route, with their orders, will be deliver’d to Lt Col. Hand and Capt. Stephenson, this afternoon.2

As the Ministerial Troops in Boston, both from information and appearance, are preparing to evacuate that town: The General expressly orders, that neither Officer, or Soldier, presume to go into Boston, without leave from the General in Chief at Cambridge, or the commanding General at Roxbury; as the enemy with a malicious assiduity, have spread the infection of the smallpox through all parts of the town, nothing but the utmost caution on our part, can prevent that fatal disease from spreading thro’ the army, and country, to the infinite detriment of both—His Excellency expressly commands every Officer, to pay the exactist obedience to this order.3

If upon the retreat of the enemy any person whatsoever, is detected in pillaging, he may be assured the severest punishment will be his lot—The unhappy Inhabitants of that distress’d town, have already suffer’d too heavily from the Iron hand of Oppression! their Countrymen surely will not be base enough to add to their misfortunes.

After Orders. His Excellency the Commander in Chief orders, that the Rifle Battalion, with Stark’s, Webb’s, Pattersons, Greatons, and Bond’s Regiments, be immediately relieved from duty, and hold themselves in readiness to march, on Friday Morning next, except the Rifle Battalion, which marches to morrow.4

Varick transcript, DLC:GW.

1Artemas Ward’s orderly book gives the parole for this date as “Georgia,” the countersign as “Amboy,” and the watchwords that appear here as the watchwords for 12 March. See General Orders, that date, n.1.

2The riflemen at Roxbury joined the others at Cambridge on 14 Mar., and the next day they all set out for New York where they arrived on 28 March. For the riflemen’s route of march, see Dandridge, Shepherdstown description begins Danske Dandridge. Historic Shepherdstown. Charlottesville, Va., 1910. description ends , 132–33.

3On 12 Mar. William Palfrey wrote to Artemas Ward: “As a number of the Enemy’s Transports has been observed this Afternoon to sail out of the Harbour, and it is possible that before to-morrow Morning they may have finish’d their shameful retreat, and the Gates of the Town be thrown open. In that case it is the General’s positive Orders that no Person whomsoever be suffer’d to go in, or come out of the Town without his special Licence for that purpose—for besides the great danger of spreading the infection of the Smallpox in the Army, it may be attended with other bad consequences, too many to enumerate. His Excellency also requests that you would be particularly attentive and vigilant the ensuing Night, to prevent the Enemy from attempting by some bold stroke in some measure to wipe off the ignominy of their retreat—He also desires you will give proper directions to watch their motions along the Shore as far as Plymouth—and if any thing material should occur to give him the earliest information.” Palfrey added in a postscript: “You’ll please to be particularly careful about Milton, Bra[i]ntree[,] Cohassett & Hingham lest they Should attempt to land there” (MHi: Ward Papers).

4The following Friday was 15 March.

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