George Washington Papers

General Orders, 15 August 1776

General Orders

Head Quarters, New York, August 15th 1776.

Parole: Charlestown.Countersign: Boston.

William S: Smith Esqr: appointed to act as Aide-de-Camp to General Sullivan, during the absence of Major Scammell, and to be obeyed and respected accordingly.1

Henry Williams of Capt: Parks Company, Colonel Shepard’s Regiment convicted by a General Court-Martial whereof Col. Wyllys was President of “Desertion”—sentenced to receive thirty-nine Lashes.

The General approves it, and orders it to be executed at the usual time and place.

Lieut: Holcomb of Capt: Anderson’s Company, and Col. Johnson’s Regiment, tried by the same Court Martial for “assuming the rank of a Captain, wearing a yellow Cockade, and mounting Guard in that capacity”—it appearing to be done thro’ misinformation and want of experience, the Court are of opinion, he should be cautioned by his Colonel, to make himself acquainted with his duty, and that he be released from his arrest.

The General approves thereof and orders that he be discharged.

Mr William Caldwell is appointed Pay Master to Colo. Baldwins Regiment.2

Mr John Laurence to the regiment late McDougalls.3

The General directs and requests that every officer will see the mens Arms and Ammunition put in order as soon as it clears up;4 and for that purpose have them paraded and carefully inspected. An enemy often presumes upon neglect at such time, to make an attack.

Mr Robert Prevost Junr appointed Pay Master to Col. Ritzema’s regiment.5

Col. Glover’s regiment to move to morrow to Greenwich, and join General Fellow’s Brigade.

General Putnam’s Division, to be put into the General detail of duty as before.

Capt: James Chapman to do duty of Major to Col. Tyler’s Regiment (late General Parsons’s) ’till further orders.

Capt: James Mellen to do the same in Colonel Ward’s regiment.6

Capt: Thomas Dyer to do the duty of Brigade Major to Genl Parsons’s brigade, ’till further orders.

Varick transcript, DLC:GW.

1William Stephens Smith (1755–1816), a native New Yorker who had been studying law in the city, escaped being captured with Sullivan during the Battle of Long Island twelve days later. Wounded at Harlem Heights on 16 Sept., Smith recovered in time to help delay the British advance toward White Plains in October and to fight at Trenton in December. In January 1777 Smith became lieutenant colonel of Col. William Raymond Lee’s Additional Continental Regiment, and in April 1779 he transferred to Col. Oliver Spencer’s Additional Regiment. GW appointed Smith inspector and deputy adjutant general of Lafayette’s light infantry division on 5 Aug. 1780, and on 6 July 1781 GW named Smith one of his aides-de-camp (see General Orders for those dates). Smith left GW in June 1782 to seek a command on a proposed expedition in the West Indies (see Smith and Matthew Clarkson to GW and GW’s certificate of Smith’s services, both 24 June 1782, DLC:GW). The expedition was canceled, and in September Smith returned to GW’s headquarters to become commissary of prisoners, a position that he held for the remainder of the war (see GW to Smith, 7 Sept. 1782, DLC:GW). From 1785 to 1788 Smith was secretary to the American legation in London. GW appointed Smith federal marshal for New York in 1789, and in 1791 GW made him supervisor of the revenue for the district of New York.

2William Caldwell of Massachussetts served as paymaster of Col. Loammi Baldwin’s 26th Continental Regiment until 31 Dec. 1776.

3McDougall recommended Laurance for this position in a letter to GW of 9 Aug., saying that Laurance previously had taken “some trouble with the Papers respecting the Payment of my Regiment” (DLC:GW). In response to GW’s unfound reply of that date, McDougall wrote GW on 12 Aug. enclosing a recommendation of Laurance, dated 9 Aug., that is signed by the field officers of the 1st New York Regiment “and all the Captains then in Camp” (DLC:GW). John Laurance (Lawrence; 1750–1810), a New York City attorney who emigrated from England in 1767, was McDougall’s son-in-law. Commissioned a second lieutenant in the 4th New York Regiment on 1 Aug. 1775, Laurance apparently participated in the Canadian campaign during the following fall and winter. He served as paymaster of the 1st New York Regiment until 21 Nov. 1776 when the state line was rearranged, and on 13 Jan. 1777 he became paymaster of Col. Henry Beekman Livingston’s 4th New York Regiment (see Livingston to the New York Committee of Arrangement, 26 Nov. 1776, in Force, American Archives description begins Peter Force, ed. American Archives. 9 vols. Washington, D.C., 1837–53. description ends , 5th ser., 3:857–58, and O’Callaghan and Fernow, N.Y. Documents description begins E. B. O’Callaghan and Berthold Fernow, eds. Documents Relative to the Colonial History of the State of New-York. 15 vols. Albany, 1853–87. description ends , 15:209). GW appointed Laurance judge advocate general of the Continental army on 10 April 1777 (see General Orders, that date), and he held that office until 3 June 1782, when Congress accepted his resignation (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 , 22:314, and Laurance to GW, 16 May 1782, DLC:GW). Laurance was a delegate to the Continental Congress from 1785 to 1787, a member of the U.S. House of Representatives from 1789 to 1793, a federal judge from 1794 to 1796, and a U.S. senator from 1796 to 1800.

4Ens. Caleb Clap says in his diary that on 14 Aug., “at Evening the most Rain has fallen that we have had this three or four Months” (Clap, “Diary,” 250).

5Robert Provost, Jr. (Prevost; 1737–1796), who previously had been quartermaster of Col. Rudolphus Ritzema’s 3d New York Regiment, was recommended by Ritzema and the other field officers of the regiment in a letter to GW of 12 Aug. “as a proper Person for a Regimental Paymaster, he also being a fair Writer and a good Accomptant” (DLC:GW). Provost became paymaster of the 2d New York on 13 Jan. 1777 and served until 1 Jan. 1781.

6James Mellen (Millen; c.1733–1812), who had been a captain in Col. Jonathan Ward’s Massachusetts regiment during 1775, continued serving as a captain in Ward’s 21st Continental Regiment after 1 Jan. 1776. Mellen was named acting major on this date in place of Josiah Fay who had died on 8 August. Congress confirmed Mellen’s promotion on 25 Sept. (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 , 5:824), and on 1 Nov. 1776 he became lieutenant colonel of the 9th Massachusetts Regiment. Mellen moved to the 4th Massachusetts Regiment on 1 Jan. 1781, and on 17 Jan. 1783 GW made him lieutenant colonel commandant of the 3d Massachusetts Regiment (see General Orders, that date). Mellen left the army in June 1783.

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