George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Thomas Cheesman, 9 August 1776

From Thomas Cheesman

[C.9 August 1776]. Accuses Lt. Col. Herman Zedwitz of misappropriating or withholding the personal effects of his son, Capt. Jacob Cheesman, “who fell at the unsuccessful Attack of Quebec. . . . Your Petitioner therefore humbly begs that your Excellency would be pleas’d to order him to Account for his Conduct in the Premisses by such Ways and Means as to your Excellency shall seem best.”1

DS, NHi: McDougall Papers. At the end of this document, GW wrote: “Brigadr Lord Sterling, in whose Brigade Colo. Zedwitz is, is to order a proper enquiry into the Alligations of the foregoing Complaint. Go: Washington Augt 9th 1776.” Stirling delivered this petition to Zedwitz on the morning of 10 Aug. and requested him to answer Cheesman’s charges. In his reply to Stirling two days later, Zedwitz denied having “sold or even touched One Single Article of the Deceased Captain Cheesemans Effects,” nor had he “ever refused giving the Petitioner what satisfaction was in his power” (Zedwitz to Stirling, 10, 12 Aug. 1776, NHi: McDougall Papers).

Thomas Cheesman (c.1725–1785) was an established shipwright in New York City.

1Jacob Cheesman, who was appointed a captain in the 1st New York Regiment in July 1775 and became an aide-de-camp to Gen. Richard Montgomery the following month, was killed at Montgomery’s side during the American assault on Quebec on the night of 31 Dec. 1775. Herman Zedwitz, a former Prussian army captain who had come to New York about 1773 and had attempted to make his living as a violin teacher, was appointed major of the 1st New York Regiment in July 1775 (see Rivington’s New-York Gazetteer; or the Connecticut, New-Jersey, Hudson’s-River, and Quebec Weekly Advertiser, 29 April 1773). During the attack on Quebec, Zedwitz was injured in a fall from one of the city’s walls, and although he was made lieutenant colonel of the 1st New York on 8 Mar. 1776, his injury left him unfit for active duty, and in July he was recommended for “some stationary duty, such as the command of some fort” (Remarks on the Officers and vacant Commissions in the First Regiment of New-Yorkers, July 1776, in Force, American Archives description begins Peter Force, ed. American Archives. 9 vols. Washington, D.C., 1837–53. description ends , 5th ser., 1:645–46). Tried by a court-martial on 25 and 26 Aug. on charges of conducting a treasonous correspondence with Governor Tryon, Zedwitz was found guilty and cashiered (see General Orders, 25 Aug.). He was imprisoned at various places until July 1779 when Congress allowed him to leave the country with his family after giving a parole not to bear arms against the United States or its allies for the duration of the war (JCC description begins Worthington Chauncey Ford et al., eds. Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774-1789. 34 vols. Washington, D.C., 1904–37. description ends , 14:826).

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