George Washington Papers

Council of War, 27 June 1776

Council of War

[New York, 27 June 1776]

At a Council of General Officers, held at Head Quarters June 27. 1776.

Present his Excelle. General Washington Brig. Generals: Heath, Spencer, Green, Ld Stirling, Mifflin & Scott.

The General communicated to the Council the Proceedings of the Court Martial on Thomas Hickey—when he was unanimously advised to confirm the Sentence & that it be put in Execution tomorrow at 11 oClock, For which Purpose the General to issue his Warrant.1

Major Rogers having been brought before this Council of Officers from Amboy where he has been for several Days—the Members were unanimously of Opinion that he should proceed to Philad. under an Escort & that at the same Time a Letter be wrote to Congress informing them that under all Circumstances he is not to be sufficiently relied on.2

The General read a Letter recd from Col. Creary & Capt. Livingston informing that the Committee took Surety for the good Behaviour of the Prisoners & discharged them—Unanimously agreed—that the General write to the Provincial Congress informing them of the Transactions there & that they will Order therein—& also that all Persons apprehended be detained untill such Direction be obtained.3

Advised unanimously—That all the Stock & Horses except what is absolutely necessary for the Support of the Inhabitants be removed from Long Island, Staten Island & the adjoining Coasts & that Application be made to the provincial Congress to assist in carrying this Measure into Execution.4

D, in Joseph Reed’s writing, DLC:GW; Varick transcript, DLC:GW.

1For the proceedings of Hickey’s court-martial of 26 June, see General Orders, this date, n.1. GW’s warrant of 28 June to the provost marshal, William Marony, authorizing Hickey’s execution is in DLC:GW: “Whereas Thomas Hickey a Soldier inlisted in the Service of the sd United Colonies has been duly convicted by a general Court Martial of Mutiny & Sedition & also of holding a treacherous Correspondence with the Enemies of the sd Colonies contrary to the Rules & Regulations established for the Government of the sd Troops. And the sd Thomas Hickey being so convicted has been sentenced to Death by being hanged by the Neck till he shall be dead—which Sentence by the unanimous Advice of the General Officers of the sd Army I have thought proper to confirm. These are therefore to will & require you to execute the sd Sentence upon the sd Thomas Hickey this Day at Eleven oClock in the Forenoon upon the Ground between the Encampments of the Brigades of Brigr Genl Spencer & Ld Stirling.” Marony returned the warrant to GW on that same date with a signed statement at the end of the document attesting that Hickey had been executed at the time and place and in the manner ordered. See also General Orders, 28 June.

2For the circumstantial evidence against Robert Rogers, see GW to Hancock, this date (second letter). For previous suspicions about Rogers’s behavior, see Eleazar Wheelock to GW, 2 Dec., and note 1, Rogers to GW, 14 Dec., Sullivan to GW, 17 Dec. 1775.

3The letter that Col. Archibald Crary and Maj. William Smith Livingston sent to Gen. Nathanael Greene on the afternoon of 25 or 26 June from Hempstead, N.Y., concerned the apprehension of Loyalists on Long Island that had recently been ordered by the New York provincial congress (see GW to Greene, 24 June). “The Committee of the [Queens] County is now sitting,” the two officers wrote, “and all such as appear before them who give surety and proper Assurances for their future Behaviour they discharge—We have had on the whole near one hundred—There is little hopes of our being able to proceed any father in the Execution of your Orders—We have taken all that can be found and what few are still remaining are secreted in almost inaccessable Fastnesses thro’ which we may wander for a Month and not find a Man.... our Stay here can be now of no further Utility The County has been well secur’d and will we hope act more consistent for the future” (DLC:GW; see also Showman, Greene Papers description begins Richard K. Showman et al., eds. The Papers of General Nathanael Greene. 13 vols. Chapel Hill, N.C., 1976–2005. description ends , 1:242).

Archibald Crary (1748–1812) of Rhode Island was lieutenant colonel of Col. James Mitchell Varnum’s 9th Continental Regiment. A charter member in 1774 of the independent “Kentish Guards” company commanded by Varnum, Crary became a captain-lieutenant in Varnum’s 1st Rhode Island Regiment in May 1775 and was made lieutenant colonel of Varnum’s 9th Continental Regiment on 1 Jan. 1776. Although Crary distinguished himself at the Battle of Harlem Heights on 16 Sept. 1776, he was left out of the arrangement of the Continental army for 1777 when the number of Rhode Island regiments was reduced from four to two. Crary was commissioned lieutenant colonel of a Rhode Island militia regiment on 12 Dec. 1776, and in June 1777 he became colonel of the 2d Rhode Island State Regiment. He resigned his commission in May 1779.

William Smith Livingston (1755–1794), a son of Robert James Livingston of New York City, graduated from Princeton in 1772 and became a lieutenant in Col. John Lasher’s New York militia regiment in September 1775. Subsequently promoted to captain, Livingston was named major of Lasher’s regiment on 24 June 1776. On 12 Aug. 1776 GW appointed Livingston as brigade major of Lord Stirling’s brigade, but four days later, at Nathanael Greene’s request, GW named Livingston one of Greene’s aides-de-camp (see General Orders, 12, 16 Aug., and Greene to GW, 15 Aug. 1776). In January 1777 Livingston became lieutenant colonel of Col. Samuel Blachley Webb’s Additional Continental Regiment. Captured at Fort Montgomery in October 1777, Livingston escaped from a British prison ship a few weeks later, and in August 1778 he commanded Webb’s regiment at the Battle of Rhode Island, during which he was slightly wounded. Livingston submitted his resignation to GW on 10 Oct. 1778 (see Livingston to GW, that date, DLC:GW) and subsequently studied law in New Jersey, where he was admitted to the bar in 1780. After the war Livingston became a prominent lawyer in New York City.

4For GW’s application to the New York provincial congress, see his letter to Nathaniel Woodhull, this date. For the views of generals Heath, Spencer, Greene, and Stirling on this matter, see their joint written opinion to GW of this date.

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