George Washington Papers

General Orders, 8 October 1776

General Orders

Head Quarters, Harlem Heights, Octobr 8th 1776.

Parole: Countersign: 1

The late Sergeant Douglass of Capt. Foster’s Company, late McDougall’s Regiment, being convicted by a General Court Martial, whereof Col. Weedon was President of “Mutinous Speeches and speaking disrespectfully of the Commander in Chief” and sentenced to receive 39 Lashes—The General approves the sentence, and orders it to be executed at the usual time and place—This Offender being a very bad character, is to be continued in the Provost Guard ’till further Orders.2

The Commanding Officer of the Rangers having represented, that Soldiers are continually straggling down to Harlem, and other Places; frequently without Arms—and that when he has apprehended, and sent them to their regiments, no farther notice has been taken of them; As this is a plain breach of General Orders, the General hopes there is some mistake in the matter; however to prevent it in future, he now orders that no officer or soldier (Rangers excepted) go on any pretence beyond the lines, without leave from himself, a Major General, the Brigadier of the day, or the Adjutant General, in writing; unless either of those officers are with them in person: And in order to distinguish the Rangers,3 they are to wear something white round their Arms. If any such Straggler is found hereafter, he is to be sent to the quarter-guard of the regiment, tried by a Regimental Court Martial, and receive ten Lashes immediately.

There is now an issuing Store for Ammunition, near Genl Spencer’s quarters, the Officers of every regiment will be responsible if there is any deficiency in their regiments, as they may now receive a full supply by making a Return of the State of their Ammunition, and getting an Order from the Adjutant General.

The Brigade lately commanded by Genl Mifflin is to be under the care of Lord Stirling who is just returned from his Captivity.

The General desires the commanding Officers of each Regiment, or Corps, will give in a list of the names of the Officers & Men,4 who were killed, taken, or missing in the Action of the 27th of August on Long Island, and since that period: He desires the Returns may be correct, and that any perons who have it in their power, will give in the Returns of this kind in behalf of any Militia Regiments which are discharged.5

The General, to prevent any plea of ignorance, again repeats his order against all kinds of Gaming, as destructive and pernicious to the service: He hopes the officers will set no examples of this kind, and that they will punish it among the men.

The General is surprised to find that manning the lines every morning, is discontinued—He desires that the practice of doing it, for the future, may not be omitted, unless contradicted by General Orders.

The Quarter-Master General is to use the greatest diligence, in providing straw for the accomodation of the troops.

Lieut. Kidd of Col. Smallwood’s regiment, convicted by a Court Martial whereof Col. Ware was President of a breach of General Orders, in “Taking fatigue-men from their duty”—is sentenced to be dismisd the service—Ensign Fairly of the regiment late McDougall’s, tried by the same Court Martial, for the same, is acquitted and discharged from Arrest. Capt. Hardenburgh of Col. Ritzema’s Regiment, convicted by the same Court Martial of “Defrauding his men”—is sentenced to be cashiered, and his name, place of abode, and offence, published agreeable to the 2nd & 4th late additional Articles of war.6

The General approves each of the above sentences, and orders to be executed.

Varick transcript, DLC:GW.

1“Williams’ Diary,” description begins “Elisha Williams’ Diary of 1776.” Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography 48 (1924): 334–53; 49 (1925): 44–60. description ends 49:50, gives the parole for this date as “France” and the countersign as “Spain.”

2At George Douglass’s trial on this charge the previous day, Ensign Bonner testified that he heard Douglass, while confined for disobeying orders, say “that the Generals had sold the Troops upon Long Island, & had brought the Army up to Haarlem to sell them there.” Douglass’s company commander, Capt. William A. Forbes, testified that he heard Douglass sing “God Save the King” and then say: “He was his King. & he would have no other King which we should soon see” (see the proceedings of the general court-martial, 7 Oct., DLC:GW). For Douglass’s previous conviction on another charge, see General Orders, 7 October.

3“Williams’ Diary,” description begins “Elisha Williams’ Diary of 1776.” Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography 48 (1924): 334–53; 49 (1925): 44–60. description ends 49:50, says: “to distinguish the rangers from the rest of the army.”

4“Williams’ Diary,” description begins “Elisha Williams’ Diary of 1776.” Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography 48 (1924): 334–53; 49 (1925): 44–60. description ends 49:50, says: “of officers & men respectively belonging to them.”

5These returns, which GW wanted in order to verify that the prisoners being offered for exchange by the British actually had been in American service, apparently were not submitted until the following month. A number of them variously dated between 17 and 23 Nov. are printed in Force, American Archives description begins Peter Force, ed. American Archives. 9 vols. Washington, D.C., 1837–53. description ends , 5th ser., 3:715–30. See also GW to William Heath and Charles Lee, 14 Nov., DLC:GW.

6The undated proceedings of the court-martial that tried these three officers are in DLC:GW. John Kidd (1753–1826) of Harford County, Md., who had been commissioned a second lieutenant in Col. William Smallwood’s Maryland regiment on 2 Jan. 1776 and was promoted to first lieutenant on 9 July, pleaded guilty to the charge against him but said that “he was not acquai[n]ted with the Orders.” Lt. Marcus Cole, an engineer at the fortifications on which Kidd’s men were assigned to work, testified that “as soon as Lieut. Kidd had marched his Men to the Fort, he drew an Order for the Rum and paraded them to march Home.” Although Cole informed Kidd that “twas contrary to general Orders to go home to Breakfast,” Kidd left with his detachment and did not return until after 11:00 A.M. Before noon Kidd attempted to turn in his men’s tools because it was raining, but his party immediately was ordered back to work by Capt. Thomas Woolford of Maryland, who testified that he told Kidd that “the Rain was very trifeling.” Woolford dismissed the party for dinner at 1:00 P.M., and Kidd did not return that day. Kidd testified in his defense “that he was sick and unable to go in the Afternoon.”

James Fairlie (1757–1830), who had been appointed an ensign in the 1st New York Regiment on 24 Feb. 1776, confessed “that he marched the fatigue Men off contrary to general Orders, but that it was the next Morning after the Orders were issued, and he had not heard them, And that he was under the Command of Lieut. Kidd, and it was by his Order that the Men marched off.” Arendt Van Hook, adjutant of the 1st New York Regiment, testified “that he did not that Evening read the Orders to the Regt as they came very late, the next Morning, he says he mentioned the Orders to the Men, but does not know that Ensn Fairly was present.” Fairlie became a second lieutenant in the 2d New York Regiment on 21 Nov. 1776, and from May 1780 to the end of the war he was an aide-de-camp to Baron von Steuben with the rank of major.

Cornelius Hardenbergh was convicted on the testimony of two lieutenants, Edward Lounsberry and Charles Newkirk, who said that Hardenbergh had not paid his men all of their wages and subsistence at Kingston, N.Y., in April and that although he had promised to rectify matters when the company went to New York, he had not done so.

Francis Ware, Sr., of Port Tobacco, Md., who had served in the Maryland assembly before the war and in the provincial convention during 1774 and 1775, was appointed lieutenant colonel of Smallwood’s regiment on 2 Jan. 1776. Ware was named colonel of the 1st Maryland Regiment in December 1776, but he resigned his commission the following February. During the summer of 1777, the Maryland council appointed him county lieutenant of Charles County.

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