George Washington Papers

General Orders, 19 May 1776

General Orders

Head Quarters, New York, May 19th 1776.

Parole AlbanyCountersign Schuyler.

The Brigadier Generals are desired to make their respective brigades, perfectly acquainted with the alarm posts, which have been reported to the Commander in Chief: But in case of an Alarm, the respective regiments are to draw up, opposite to their encampments, or quarters, until they receive orders to repair to the alarm posts above referred to. The following Signals are to give the alarm, to all the Troops (as well regulars as Militia) and the Inhabitants of the city: (viz.) In the day time; two Cannon to be fired from the rampart at Fort George, and a Flag hoisted from the Top of General Washingtons, head quarters: In the night time, two Cannon fired as above, from Fort George, and two lighted Lanthorns hoisted from the Top of Head Quarters, aforesaid.1

The Colonels, and Officers commanding Corps, are immediately to have their men compleated with twenty-four rounds of powder and ball, properly, and compleatly, made up into Cartridges, six rounds of which, each man is to have in his pouch, or cartridge box, for ordinary duty; the remaining eighteen, are to be wrapped up tight, in a Cloth, or coarse Paper, and mark’d with the name of the soldier to whom they belong, and carefully packed into an empty powder barrel. The Captains, or Officers commanding Companies, are to see that this is done, and to take into his own possession, the barrel, with the cartridges so packed, and to have them delivered to the men, as occasion may require: And whatsoever Soldier shall be found wasting, or embezzeling, his ammunition, shall not only be made to pay for it, but be punished for so base and shameful a neglect, and disobedience of orders.

Notwithstanding the care and pains, that has been taken to provide good arms for the troops, on examination they are found to be in the most shocking situation: The Colonels, or commanding Officers of the regiments, are requested to get the arms belonging to their regiments, put in good order as soon as possible, the work to be executed at the Continental Armoury, or elsewhere, so as to have them repaired in the most expeditious manner—Every man to be furnished with a good Bayonet: But all that have had Bayonets heretofore, and have lost them, to pay for the new ones—Wherever a Soldier is known to have injured his gun, on purpose, or suffered it to be injured by negligence; to be chargeable with the repairs. An Account to be rendered of the expence of those repairs, after deducting what each Individual ought to pay—A Warrant will be given the commanding Officer of the regiments, for the discharge of the same.

All repairs that are done to the arms hereafter, except unavoidable accidents, to be paid by the men, and stopt out of their wages by the commanding officer of the regiment—An Account to be rendered to him, by the Captains, or commanding Officers of companies.

Capt. Joseph Butler of Colonel Nixons regiment, is to be furnished with a Copy of the accusation, lodged against him, by Lieut. Silas Walker, and both are to attend the next General Court Martial with their evidences.2

The Lads lately picked out of Col: Nixon’s, and Col: Webb’s regiments; are to be immediately discharged, and their accounts settled, and paid: In order the better to enable them to return to their respective homes—ten days provision, and pay, is to be allowed them from this day.

John Lewis of Capt. Harnburry’s Company, in Col. Ritzema’s regiment, tried by a late General Court Martial, whereof Col. Ritzema was President “for insulting and striking Lieut. Cole of Col. Wyllys’s regiment, when on command”—The Court find the prisoner guilty of the charge, and a breach of the 7th Article of the Continental Rules and Regulations; and do sentence him to be whipp’d Thirty-nine Lashes for said offences.

The General approves of the above sentence, and orders it to be put in execution to morrow morning at Guard mounting.

Varick transcript, DLC:GW.

1Fort George, the town’s oldest and largest defensive work, stood directly behind the battery at the southern tip of Manhattan Island. The interconnection of the signals at Fort George and GW’s headquarters suggests that at this time his headquarters was near the fort, either south of it on Pearl Street or more likely to its north at William Smith’s town house on lower Broadway. For a discussion of the location of GW’s headquarters at this time, see General Orders, 14 April 1776, source note.

2Joseph Butler (b. 1734) was acquitted a few days later on charges of fraud, unjustified absence, and improper recruiting, and he then charged Silas Walker with making false accusations. Walker, who was the first lieutenant of Butler’s company, was in turn also acquitted (see General Orders, 25 May, 8, 16 June 1776). Butler and Walker both were from Concord, Mass., and had participated as minutemen in the battle there on 19 April 1775. In May 1775 they joined Col. John Nixon’s Massachusetts Regiment, Butler as a captain and Walker as a first lieutenant, and they continued in those positions after 1 Jan. 1776 when Nixon’s regiment was designated the 4th Continental Infantry. Butler was discharged from the army in July 1776 on account of ill health (GW to Lord Stirling, 27 July 1776). Walker became a first lieutenant in the 15th Massachusetts Regiment on 1 Jan. 1777 and resigned his commission in April 1779. He served afterwards as a captain in the Massachusetts militia.

Index Entries