George Washington Papers

Council of War, 28 June 1776

Council of War

[New York, 28 June 1776]

At a Conference of the General Officers of the Army & a Committee from the Honble Provincial Congress of New York. at Head Quarters June 28th 1776.

The Committee attending in consequence of a request from the General to the Congress, that the Stock of Cattle and Sheep should be removed from Long Island and Staten Island to prevent their falling into the hands of the Enemy.1 After much consideration, it was unanimously agreed.

That all the Cattle Horses and Sheep on Staten Island (except such as those hereafter mentioned) be removed with all expedition. But as some Milch Cows and Horses are indispensably necessary for the Subsistence of the Inhabitants, it was agreed that 200 Horses be left for the use of the Inhabitants, no one person keeping more than two, that Milch Cows be kept in the following proportions and not to be exceeded Vizt 3 for a large family, 2 for a midling family and one to a small family. No person to be permitted now to keep a Cow, who has not done so for two months past. It was also farther agreed, that in case the Enemy should make a descent on said Island, with an intention to seize the Cattle or Stock, in that case they be destroyed & the owners compensated by the Public.

With respect to the Cattle &ca on Long Island, it was agreed that those in Queen’s and King’s County, should be drove to the bushy Plains, beyond the Ridge which runs from Hempstead Plains along the North side of Jamaica and so on towards New York Ferry (Milch Cows and Horses excepted as above) and in all other respects the same regulations in case of a descent by the Enemy, and the same compensation to be made.

Varick transcript, DLC:GW.

1See GW to Nathaniel Woodhull, 27 June. The committee that the provincial congress appointed earlier this day to consult with GW about the removal of livestock consisted of Thomas Wickham and Thomas Tredwell of Suffolk County, Richard Conner of Richmond County, Jacob Blackwell of Queens County, and John Leffertse of Kings County. The committee reported the determinations of this day’s conference to the provincial congress on 29 June (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 , 1:509–10).

This committee was also instructed to confer with GW “on the subject of his application, contained in Colo. Reid’s letter, relative to disaffected persons who are now, or may be, in the custody of any of his officers” (ibid., 509). Joseph Reed wrote to Henry Remsen, chairman of the New York City general committee, on 26 June: “The taking proper measures for apprehending a person of dangerous principles and conduct last evening, prevented my writing you as I proposed, respecting the prisoners brought in yesterday. I mentioned what passed between us to the General, but on referring to the resolution of Congress, we found the disposition of prisoners wholly given to the Congresses, Committees, &c. of the respective Colonies. In this view His Excellency did not choose to give any directions about them, but at the same time suggested his wishes that they might be removed out of the city as soon as possible. How far the Colony of Connecticut might choose to take prisoners captivated in other Provinces, unless sent by the Continental Congress, must be left to the wisdom of your own Convention; they now have many under these circumstances. If any farther guard is necessary, upon receiving an intimation on that head it shall be immediately complied with” (ibid., 2:239).

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