George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Brigadier General William Livingston, 12 August 1776

From Brigadier General William Livingston

Eliz. Town [N.J.]
12 Augt 1776

May it please your Excellency

Your Letter of the 8th Instant I recieved on a Journey to Brunswick on Friday last,1 when I had an Opportunity of Conferring with our Convention and urging your Excellency’s requisition relating to the Militia, the propriety of which is so obvious—I returned on Saturday Evening and delayed answering your favour in hopes of recieving the resolution of Convention thereon—I have just been favoured with a rough Draught of their Ordinance which I shall send you as soon as I get a correct Copy.

The out Lines are—That the one half of the whole Militia without Exception, be immediately called out and join the flying Camp—That every Person refusing his attendance, be fined Three Pounds—That they be formed into 13 Battallions and to remain on Service one month and then to be relieved by the other half.2

There being no mention made of any Number to be forwarded to New York, I take it for granted the whole are to be under your Excellency’s direction as to their Station &[ca].

The 2000 Men for the flying Camp under General Dickinson are in great forwardness and (altho’ very little acquainted with their duty) might answer a valuable Purpose in New York on the present Emergency, especially as their Places will be so soon filled by the half of the Militia now to be raised—A Considerable Body of the Militia must be kept here to supply the Place of the Pennsylvania Associators who are deserting their Post in Considerable Numbers notwithstanding the most spirited exertions of their Officers, and particularly their Colonel whose Behaviour does honor to his Province in particular and America in general.

We have taken such Measures as I hope will put a stop to any further Behaviour of this kind3—This Corps since our Militia were dismissed have not carried on any of the works at the Point, which as soon as they are relieved by any Men under my Command, I shall order to be prosecuted with all possible Vigour, as it is more than probable the Enemy will attempt an Incursion into this Province, to which its present defenceless State in this part, seems strongly to invite them. I am with much Truth and regard Your Excellency’s Most Obedient & Hble Servt

Wil: Livingston

LS, DLC:GW; Df, MHi: William Livingston Papers.

1The previous Friday was 9 August.

2The ordinance for calling one-half of the militia into immediate service that the New Jersey convention passed on 11 Aug. provides that “every officer refusing to serve in his turn shall be cashiered and reduced into the ranks, and shall be fined in manner following: a Colonel £20; a Lieutenant-Colonel £15; a Major £12; a Captain £8; a Lieutenant, Ensign, or Adjutant £6; a noncommissioned officer £3; and every private refusing to serve in his turn . . . shall be fined £3” (Force, American Archives description begins Peter Force, ed. American Archives. 9 vols. Washington, D.C., 1837–53. description ends , 4th ser., 6:1662–63).

3The New Jersey convention resolved on 10 Aug. that “to prevent desertion, no person or persons belonging to, or coming from, the Army in the State of New-Jersey be permitted to go over any of the Ferries in or travel through said State without a pass, signed either by General Mercer, Colonel Griffin [Samuel Griffen], or Colonel [Clement] Biddle” (ibid., 1661). On 13 Aug. William Livingston ordered all commanding officers of battalions or other corps between Elizabeth and Philadelphia to apprehend any party of Associators that was found traveling toward Philadelphia without proper discharges or furloughs from their commanding officers (Prince, Livingston Papers description begins Carl E. Prince et al., eds. The Papers of William Livingston. 5 vols. Trenton and New Brunswick, N.J., 1979–88. description ends , 1:116).

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