George Washington Papers

General Orders, 26 September 1776

General Orders

Head Quarters, Harlem Heights, Sept: 26th 1776

Parole: Halifax.Countersign: Georgia.

The Court Martial of which Col. Magaw is President, having found that Lieut: Stewart, struck Serjeant Philips, but that he was provoked so to do by the latter, and acquitted him of “threatning the life of Col. Silliman.”1

The General approves the sentence, and orders Lieut: Stewart to be discharged from his arrest.

The same Court Martial having tried and convicted Lieut: Danl Pelton, of Col. Ritzema’s Regiment, of leaving Camp, two days, and being absent without leave, the Court orders him to be mulcted of one Months pay—The General approves the Sentence, and directs that care be taken accordingly in the next Pay-Abstract.2

Serjt Philips of Capt: Hubbels Company, and Col. Silliman’s Regiment, tried by the same Court Martial for “Cowardice & leaving his party on the 17th Instant,” was acquitted; The General approves the sentence and orders him discharged.3

The Regiments of Militia which composed the Brigades commanded by Cols. Douglass & Silliman, being dismissed; those regiments are to join their former brigades.

Courts-Martial for the trial of Desertion, and other Crimes, not capital, are immediately to be formed in the several Brigades, and the sentences, when approved by the Brigadier, immediately executed.

Col. Magaw being necessarily detained from the Court Martial, Col. Ewing is to preside during his absence.

The General expects, and insists, that all the plunder, and other things, found in consequence of the examination lately made, be sent immediately to the White-House, on the Road near Head Quarters, delivered to the Captain of the Guard to be deposited there, ’till farther Orders—Colonels, & commanding Officers of regiments are to see that it is done immediately.

The officer commanding the Rangers may give passes to any of his own parties, but to none others.

Upon any Alarm, or Approach of the Enemy towards our lines, Genl Mifflin, with his Brigade, is to possess our left-flank, from the hollow-way, by Col. Sergeant’s late Encampment, to the point of Rocks, on the left-front of our lines;4 and ’till the Regiment commanded by Col. Wedon is brigaded, is to be joined by the same—Genl McDougall’s Brigade is to repair to the plains back of Genl Mifflin, and be ready to support him or the picquet in the front as occasion may require—Genl Bell’s Brigade is to repair to the lines which cross the road by Col. Moylan’s lodging, and to extend their right-flank to the middle Redoubt by Mr Kortright’s house, occupying the same—Genl Wadsworth and Fellows are to take the remaining part of these lines, with the Redoubt therein on the North River—These three Brigades to defend these lines, or wait there for Orders—Genl Heard’s is to parade, and be ready to march wherever ordered—Genl Putnam is to command in front of the lines by Mr Kortright’s—Genl Spencer in the rear of them.

Varick transcript, DLC:GW; Df, DNA: RG 93, Orderly Books, vol. 15. The draft is in Joseph Reed’s writing except for the two passwords and the last two paragraphs of the general orders.

1The altercation between John Steward (Stewart; d. 1782), who was the first lieutenant of Capt. John Allen Thomas’s 5th Independent Maryland Company in Col. William Smallwood’s regiment, and William Phelps (c.1730–1826), a sergeant or ensign in Capt. William Gaylord Hubbell’s company in Col. Gold Selleck Silliman’s regiment of Connecticut militia levies, occurred on the morning of 18 Sept. when Steward accused Phelps of cowardly behavior while scouting with him the previous day. A copy of the proceedings of the court-martial that tried Steward on 23 Sept. is in DLC:GW. Steward became a captain in the 2d Maryland Regiment in December 1776, and the following April he was promoted to major of that regiment. Captured on 22 Aug. 1777 during Sullivan’s raid on Staten Island, Steward escaped from a British prison ship in December 1777, and during the next two years he spent much time on detached duty with the Continental light infantry (see General Orders, 8 Aug. 1778 and 15 June 1779). On 26 July 1779 Congress resolved to present Steward a silver medal for his role in the successful storming of Stony Point ten days earlier (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 , 14:890). Steward became lieutenant colonel of the 1st Maryland Regiment in February 1781. He died in late 1782 apparently from injuries sustained in a fall from a horse near Charleston, S.C., where he was serving with Gen. Nathanael Greene’s forces. William Phelps, a native of Fairfield, Conn., is called both a sergeant and an ensign in the court-martial proceedings of 23 Sept. (DLC:GW). Phelps had served as a sergeant under Captain Hubbell in the 7th Connecticut Regiment during 1775, and he appears as an ensign in Hubbell’s company of the 16th Regiment of Connecticut militia in 1779.

2Daniel Pelton, who had been a drum maker in New York City before becoming a lieutenant in Col. Rudolphus Ritzema’s 3d New York Regiment earlier this year, pleaded guilty to this charge at his court-martial on 23 Sept. (see the New York Journal; or, the General Advertiser, 5 Oct. 1775, and Force, American Archives description begins Peter Force, ed. American Archives. 9 vols. Washington, D.C., 1837–53. description ends , 5th ser., 2:468).

3For the proceedings of Phelps’s court-martial on 23 Sept., see ibid., 468–69. William Gaylord Hubbell (1736–1779) of Fairfield, Conn., who had been a captain in the 16th Connecticut militia regiment since October 1772, served as a captain in the 7th Connecticut Regiment from July to December 1775 and in Colonel Silliman’s regiment of Connecticut militia levies from June to December 1776.

4The Point of Rocks was a high promontory overlooking the “Hollow Way” and the post road at the southeastern corner of the American positions on Harlem Heights (see Johnston, Harlem Heights description begins Henry P. Johnston. The Battle of Harlem Heights, September 16, 1776: With a Review of the Events of the Campaign. 1897. Reprint. New York, 1970. description ends , map facing page 70).

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