George Washington Papers

General Orders, 27 September 1776

General Orders

Head Quarters, Harlem-Heights, Sept: 27th 1776.

Parole: Hampton.Countersign: Walton.

Lieut: Drake of Col. Philips’s Regt, tried by a Court Martial, whereof Col. Ewing was President for “Leaving the regiment without permission of his commanding Officer, and being absent twenty days”—was acquitted.1

The General approves the Sentence and orders him to be discharged.

The Returns are expected to morrow at Orderly time, which the Brigade Majors & Adjutants would do well to attend to.2

The General is not more surprised than vexed, to find, that in spite of all his care to prevent unnecessary firing, and waste of Ammunition, that every afternoon produces fresh instances of the shameful discharge of Muskets, when there has been no rain to wet, or otherwise injure the loads—He now positively orders that there shall be no firing, without leave from the Brigadier of the Brigade, the men belong to; who are to inqure minutely into the necessity of the case, and whether the Pieces cannot be drawn without—The General also directs, that none but the Out-Sentries, shall ever have their Musquets loaded; and if those would be watchful, and vigilant on their posts, they need not load till occasion should require it.

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 paragraph of the general orders.

1Henry Drake of Capt. Joel Houghton’s company of New Jersey militia levies said at his court-martial trial on 26 Sept. “that he was only a Volunteer, that he has no Commission, & that when he came into the Service he publickly declared that he would serve only for 2 Months, that he has never received, but refused to accept either Pay or Rations, & that he has tarried his two Months & now considers himself at Liberty to return home” (see the copy of the court-martial proceedings for that date in DLC:GW).

Joseph Phillips (1718–1788) was commissioned on 14 June 1776 as major of the regiment of militia levies to be raised in Hunterdon and Somerset counties, New Jersey. He was promoted to lieutenant colonel on 1 Aug., and following the death of the regiment’s commander, Col. Philip Johnston, at the Battle of Long Island, Phillips succeeded him as colonel. Phillips returned home with his men on 1 Dec., and on 15 Mar. 1777 he became colonel of the 1st Regiment of Hunterdon County militia.

2The general return of the army for 28 Sept. is in DNA: RG 93, Revolutionary War Rolls.

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