George Washington Papers

General Orders, 12 August 1776

General Orders

Head Quarters, New York, August 12th 1776.

Parole: Stowe.Countersign: Temple.

The business of granting passes proving burthensome to Messrs Berrien, Ray & Wilmot; three others are added to them, viz.: William Goforth, John Campbell and Samuel Cowperthwaite, any passes signed by either of them are to be allowed.

The Honorable The Continental Congress have been pleased to appoint the following Gentlemen, Majors General of the Army of the United States. viz.: William Heath Esqr:[,] Joseph Spencer Esqr.[,] John Sullivan Esqr.[,] Nathaniel Greene Esqr: And the following Gentlemen Brigadier Generals. James Reed Esqr:[,] Col. John Nixon, Col. Arthur St Clair[,] Col. Alexander McDougall, Col. Samuel Holden Parsons, Col. James Clinton. They are to be obeyed and respected accordingly.1

Jacob Jones in Capt. Stenrods Company, late Col. McDougalls Regiment; tried by a Court Martial whereof Col. Wyllys was President, and convicted of “sleeping on his post”; sentenced to receive Thirty Stripes—The General approves the Sentence and orders it to be executed at the usual time and place.

A quantity of spears being arrived, the General Officers commanding posts, where they may be wanted, are to make report, & draw for them through the Adjutant General.

After Orders. That as little shifting of regiments, and change of Alarm posts may take place, as possible at a time when an attack may be hourly expected, The General orders and directs that the following arrangement of the Army in consequence of the late promotions shall take place ’till some new disposition can be made. Viz.: Glover’s, Smallwood’s[,] Mile’s, & Atley’s Regiments; to compose one Brigade, and be under the Command of Brigadier Lord Stirling. Late Nixon’s, Prescott’s, Varnum’s, Little’s & Hand’s Regiments; to form another Brigade, and be commanded by Brigd. Genl Nixon. Late McDougall’s, Ritzema’s & Webb’s Regts and the Artificers; to be another Brigade, under the command of General McDougall. Late Parsons’s, Huntington’s, Ward’s—Wyllys’s and Durkee’s, Regiments; to compose another Brigade, under the Command of General Parsons. Late Clinton’s, Reads, Baileys, Baldwins, and Learned’s Regiments; to be another Brigade, commanded by Brigadier General James Clinton. Sergeant’s, Hutchinson’s, & Hitchcock’s Regiments; to be added to General Mifflin’s Brigade: General Heards whole Brigade is to move over to Long Island. Col. Gays Regiment is to join his Brigade in the City of New York. Col. Hitchcocks Regiment is to relieve the detachment at Burdetts Ferry, where it is to remain, and receive orders from Brigadier Mifflin. Lord Stirling, and the Colonels of the Regiments in his Brigade, are to fix upon a Brigade parade, convenient to the several encampments thereof—General McDougall is to do the same with his Colonels; All the other Brigades, Parades, and Alarm Posts are to be as last settled.

The Brigadier Generals, James Clinton, Scott and Fellows, are to be under the immediate Command of Major General Putnam. The Brigadiers Mifflin and George Clinton’s Brigades, to be commanded by Major General Heath. Brigadiers, Parsons & Wadsworth’s Brigades to be under the Command of Major General Spencer.2 Brigadiers Nixons and Heards Brigade to be commanded by Major General Greene—’till General James Clinton can join his Brigade at this place Col. Read is to command it. Under this disposition, formed as well as times will allow, the united efforts of the officers, of every Rank, and the Soldiers, with the smiles of providence; The General hopes to render a favourable account to his Country, and Posterity of the enemy, whenever they chuse to make the appeal to the great Arbitor of the universe.

Lieut. Col. Tylor is appointed Colonel of the Regiment late Parsons, and Major Prentice Lieut. Colonel thereof.

Lieut: Col. Durkee is also appointed Colonel of the regiment late Arnolds, and Major Knowlton Lieut. Col. of said regiment.3

The Congress have likewise been pleased to appoint Rufus Putnam Esqr. an Engineer and have given him the rank of Colonel in the army.4

Major Henly (for the present) is to do duty as Brigade Major in General James Clinton’s Brigade. Major Box in General Nixon’s; Major Livingston in Lord Stirling’s, and Major Peck in General Parsons’s; and Richard Platt Esqr: is to do the duty of Brigade Major in General McDougall’s5—All of which are to be considered and obeyed as such.

Varick transcript, DLC:GW; copy (extract), in George Lewis’s writing, CSmH. The copy in CSmH includes only the after orders.

1Congress made these appointments on 9 Aug. (see 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 , 5:641; see also Hancock’s first letter to GW of 10 Aug.).

2The copy in CSmH includes here the order: “Brigadiers Ld Sterling and McDougall Brigades to be Commanded by Major Genl Sullivan & considered as a Corps de Reserve.” See also “Henshaw’s Orderly Book,” description begins “The Orderly Books of Colonel William Henshaw, October 1, 1775, through October 3, 1776.” Proceedings of the American Antiquarian Society, n.s., 57 (1948): 17–234. description ends 213–14.

3Congress promoted Tyler, Prentiss, Durkee, and Knowlton on 10 Aug. (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 , 5:644; see also Hancock to GW, 10 Aug. [second letter], n.1).

4Congress made this appointment on 5 Aug. (see 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 , 5:630; see also GW to Rufus Putnam, 11 Aug.).

5William Smith Livingston (1755–1794), a nephew of Chief Justice William Smith of New York and a recent graduate of the College of New Jersey at Princeton, became by 14 Sept. 1775 fourth lieutenant of the “Fusilier” company in Col. John Lasher’s regiment of New York independents, and by 24 June 1776 he was major of Lasher’s regiment of New York levies which reinforced the Continental army. His appointment as Stirling’s brigade major on this date did not last long, for on 15 Aug. Greene informed GW that he had chosen Livingston to be one of his aides-de-camp and the next day GW announced that appointment in the General Orders (see Greene to GW, 15 Aug., and General Orders, 16 Aug.). Livingston served as an aide-de-camp to Greene until 14 Jan. 1777 when he resigned to become lieutenant colonel of Col. Samuel Blachley Webb’s Additional Continental Regiment (see General Orders, that date). On 6 Oct. 1777 Livingston was taken prisoner by the British at Fort Montgomery, New York. Escaping from a prison ship at New York on 2 Dec. 1777, he rejoined his regiment the following spring and participated in the Rhode Island campaign that summer (see George Clinton to Israel Putnam, 12 Dec. 1777, and Livingston to Clinton, 28 Mar. 1778, in Hastings, Clinton Papers, 2:569–74, 3:90–91). On 29 Aug. 1778 Livingston was slightly wounded in the fighting at Quaker Hill, Rhode Island. He subsequently returned to his home at Beaverswyck, N.J., and on 10 Oct. 1778 he submitted his resignation to GW (see Livingston to GW, that date, DLC:GW). Livingston was admitted to the New Jersey bar in April 1780, and after the war he practiced law in New York City.

Richard Platt (1755–1830) of Suffolk County on Long Island, another recent graduate of the College of New Jersey, was commissioned a second lieutenant in the 1st New York Regiment in June 1775 and subsequently distinguished himself in the Canadian campaign (see George Clinton to John McKesson, 25 June 1776, in Hastings, Clinton Papers, 1:239–41). The Continental Congress on 26 June 1776 appointed Platt a captain in Col. Lewis Duboys’s New York regiment (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 , 5:481), but on 12 July he and four other officers submitted their resignations to the New York convention to protest being superseded in that regiment by officers who were junior to them (see 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 , 1:522). Platt served as brigade major for McDougall until 21 Nov. 1776 when he became a captain in the 2d New York Regiment (see ibid., 713). Platt was named an aide-de-camp to General McDougall on 31 Oct. 1777 (see General Orders, that date). During the early months of 1779, Platt acted temporarily as deputy adjutant general at West Point, and from October 1780 to June 1781, he was deputy quartermaster general to the main army (see General Orders, 25 July 1779, 24 Oct. 1780, and 30 June 1781). On 2 July 1781 GW appointed Platt an aide-de-camp to Lord Stirling (see General Orders, that date). Platt remained in the army until the end of the war, after which he became a prominent financier and land speculator in New York City. Although he was financially ruined in the panic of 1792, Platt avoided debtor’s prison until 1800, and in October 1793 he found time to visit GW at Mount Vernon (see GW to James Madison, 14 Oct. 1793, DLC:GW).

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