George Washington Papers

General Orders, 27 April 1776

General Orders

Head Quarters, New York, April 27th 1776

Parole Camden.Countersign Chatham.

The riotous Behaviour of some Soldiers of the Continental Army, yesterday, and the Evening before, has filled the General with much regret, and concern; and lays him under the disagreeable necessity of declaring, that if the like behaviour should be practiced again, the Authors will be brought to the severest punishment if taken, or treated as a common Enemy, if they dare to resist—Men are not to carve out Remedies for themselves—If they are injured in any respect, there are legal Modes to obtain relief; and just Complaints will always be attended to, and redressed. It should be the pride of a Soldier, to conduct himself in such a manner, as to obtain the Applause, and not the reproach of a people, he is sent to defend; and it should be the business, as it is the duty of an Officer to inculcate and enforce this doctrine.1

The Honorable the Continental Congress having been pleased to order a Brigadier General, and six more Battalions to be immediately sent to Canada; His Excellency directs the Colonels, or commanding Officers of the Regiments of Stark, [James] Reed, Wayne, Irvine,2 Dayton and Winds, to prepare their Corps for immediate embarkation: The Qr Mr General will forthwith provide Vessels; and the Commissary General, Provisions; and General Sullivan will order every Regiment to embark, and sail, with all convenient expedition.

The Honorable the Continental Congress, in consideration of the four last named Regiments, being order’d out of the middle Colonies, are pleased to direct them to be put upon the same pay with those already upon more remote service—which Pay is to commence, from the first day of May next.

Col. Stark’s, and Col. Read’s Regiments, to be ready to be mustered to morrow morning, at eight O’Clock, upon the Common near the Park of Artillery.

All Officers, non-Commission’d Officers, and Soldiers, at present absent from the Regiments, commanded by the Colonels, Wayne, Irvine, Dayton, and Winds, are forthwith order’d to join their respective Corps.

Col. McDougall, and Col. Ritzema’s Regiments, to parade on Monday Morning at Ten o’Clock, upon the Common to be reviewed.3

William Hains of Capt. Dentons Company, in Col. Ritzema’s Regiment,4 tried at a late General Court Martial whereof Col. Baldwin was President, for “Desertion”—The Court finding the Prisoner guilty of the Charge, do sentence him to be whipped Twenty-five Lashes on his bare back. The General approves the sentence, and orders it to be put in execution on Monday Morning, at the Head of the regiment.

Varick transcript, DLC:GW.

1On this date Gen. Nathanael Greene ordered “Col Irvines Regiment to parade at four oclock this afternoon upon the Common in the Front Of Bridwell That his excellency General Washington may have an opportunity to address the Regiments upon the disorderly Conduct that some of the Regiments have betrayed last night and this morning In Pulling down Houses.

“General Green desires the troops to give good attention to his Excellencys admonition for he is well persuaded that it is Calculated to preserve them from any future disgrace, Similar to this they have now fallen under” (Dodge, “Orderly Book,” 43).

The Bridewell was the recently built city jail facing the common. The rioting took place at the notorious “Holy Ground,” an area near Trinity Church where the city’s many prostitutes gathered to ply their trade and where, according to Lt. Isaac Bangs of the 23d Continental Regiment, soldiers risked death and dismemberment as well as infection with venereal disease. “Since Monday last,” Bangs wrote in his journal entry for 25 April, “two Men were found inhumanly Murthered & concealed, besides one who was castrated in a barbarous Manner. This so exasperated the Men that in the face of Day they assembled and pulled down the Houses where the Men were thus treated, & with great difficulty the Guards dispersed them after they had leveled them to the Ground. This, together with the common Riots incident to such Places, made our Men a little more Cautious how they ventured to prophane Holy Ground with their Presence” (Bangs, Journal description begins Edward Bangs, ed. Journal of Lieutenant Isaac Bangs, April 1 to July 29, 1776. 1890. Reprint. New York, 1968. description ends , 29–30).

2The copyist inadvertently wrote “Irivine.”

3The following Monday was 29 April.

4Daniel Denton informed the New York provincial congress on 13 Mar. that he had finished recruiting his company in Orange County and that he had “enlisted a number of genteel young fellows out of reputable families, who would choose to clothe themselves entirely” (N.Y. Prov. Congress Journals description begins Journals of the Provincial Congress, Provincial Convention, Committee of Safety, and Council of Safety of the State of New-York, 1775–1776–1777. 2 vols. Albany, 1842. (Microfilm Collection of Early State Records). description ends , 1:357). Denton’s company was stationed in New York City.

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