George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Major Christopher French, 22 July 1776

From Major Christopher French

Hartford 22d July 1776


A Letter which I saw to Captain Delaplace, directing His Majesty’s Officers, Prisoners here to send their Letters under Cover to you, occasions my troubling you with the enclos’d which I request you will direct to be sent to His Excelly Genl Howe by the first Flag of Truce,1 & as I am certain there must be many Letters for me & the other Gentn here, we shall esteem it a favor if you will direct enquiry to be made of the Flags of Truce which may be sent to you; I make no doubt you will grant us this small Consolation in our Captivity, that we may have the satisfaction of hearing from our Friends.

When the Parole which I sign’d to the Committee of safety at Philadelphia was tender’d to me & I had read as far as “That I would not bear Arms against the united Colonies for twelve Months[”]; I refus’d to sign it for so long a Time but one of the Members, (Mr Morris) observing there was an alternative, vizt “unless exchang’d[”]—I agreed & sign’d it, from which it is evident that I, with Ensn Rotton & Mr McDermott who were taken with me, as also Wm Goldthorpe Private Soldier in His Majesty’s twenty second Regt & Alexr Allen private Soldier in His Majs. 45th Regt who came under the same Articles, are entitled to our enlargement on the 12th of Augst next, (at which Period our Parole expires,) for which I beg you will give Orders;2 I should not have presum’d to remin’d you of this Circumstance, which I know would naturally occur, but through an Apprehension that the miltiplicity of Business now on your Hands, might Occasion it to escape your Memory. I am Sir with all due Respect Your most obedt hble servt

Chris. French

ALS, enclosed in GW to Hancock, 27 July 1776, DNA:PCC, item 152; copy, DNA:PCC, item 169.

1French’s enclosed letter to Howe has not been identified. Capt. William Delaplace of the 26th Regiment of Foot, who was the British commander at Ticonderoga when the post was captured by Americans on 10 May 1775, was one of French’s fellow prisoners at Hartford.

2For the parole that French, Ens. John Rotten, and Cadet Terrence McDermot signed in Philadelphia on 12 Aug. 1775, see Pa. Colonial Records description begins Samuel Hazard et al., eds. Pennsylvania Archives. 9 ser., 138 vols. Philadelphia and Harrisburg, 1852–1949. description ends , 10:302–3. French signed a parole for the two private soldiers on 16 Aug. 1775 (ibid., 306). For an account of the capture of French and his companions on the Delaware River on 12 Aug. 1775, see the Pennsylvania Committee of Safety to GW, 17 Aug. 1775, and note 1. Since that time French had written several letters to GW complaining about American treatment of British prisoners and seeking to be exchanged (see French to GW, 15 Aug., 3, 18 Sept., 9 Oct., 13 Nov. 1775, and April 1776). For French’s further efforts to effect his exchange, see his letters to GW of 5, 11 Aug. 1776. French escaped from Hartford in November 1776 and subsequently commanded the Queen’s Rangers.

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