George Washington Papers

General Orders, 1 November 1776

General Orders

Head-Quarters, White-Plains, November 1st 1776.

Parole: Belford.Countersign: Spain.

Peter Buise under sentence of death, and to be executed this day, is reprieved until Monday 11 o’Clock.1

The General Court Martial whereof Genl McDougall is President, to sit to morrow, at the house above Genl Lee’s Quarters, for the trial of Col. Graham—Col. Foreman of Genl Heard’s Brigade, and other Witnesses to attend.2

The moving state of the Army will occasion some irregularity, but the General hopes that officers of all ranks, will exert themselves, to correct all abuses, particularly the following;

Straggling from Camp, or plundering parties.

Taking up and keeping horses.

Loading the teams with heavy lumber and unnecessary baggage.

Firing in, and about, the Camp.

To prevent the first—the Rolls are to be frequently called, at least three times a day, and the absent punished—To prevent the second, all Horses not belonging to the Artillery, or Ammunition or Field-Officers, to be collected and sent to the Quarter-Master General, near Head-Quarters3—To prevent the third, the Field Officers should have a general examination of the baggage of their regiments; and all heavy Chests, Tables, Chairs, and other lumber be left, or after this, they will be thrown off the Waggons wherever met with: To prevent firing in Camp, the Order of yesterday to be executed, by giving the offender 10 lashes on the spot, let him belong to what regiment he may.

A relief having come for the Light-Horse under Major Backers, that Corps is now dismissed with the General’s hearty thanks for their faithful services, and the cheerfulness and alacrity they have shewn upon all occasions.4

Varick transcript, DLC:GW.

1The following Monday was 4 November.

2Gen. George Clinton wrote GW on 29 Oct.: “In Consequence of the Infamous Charge exhibited last Night (in your Excellency’s Presence) by Colo. [Joseph] Reed against Colo. Graham of my Brigade I have arrested him; of which I think it my Duty to give your Excellency this Early Notice that he may be brought to Tryal as soon as you may think proper to direct” (Hastings, Clinton Papers description begins Hugh Hastings and J. A. Holden, eds. Public Papers of George Clinton, First Governor of New York, 1777–1795, 1801–1804. 10 vols. 1899–1914. Reprint. New York, 1973. description ends , 1:394). For an account of Col. Morris Graham’s court-martial of 2–4 Nov. on the charge of retreating from the enemy without firing during the Battle of White Plains on 28 Oct., see General Orders, 8 Nov., n.2.

3Quartermaster Gen. Thomas Mifflin wrote William Duer from White Plains on 2 Nov.: “Pray let me have one hundred good ox or horse teams, immediately. We cannot move without them. Such stores as are necessary at Peek’s and Fish Kills for detachments, we may send to those places. Surely your State is able to furnish that number in a very short time. We want no stores nearer to us than the Highlands, at present, so that the teams may be hurried on without delay. If two hundred teams could be procured, I would most cheerfully employ them at least one month; but I suppose from the delay, which has appeared unavoidable in procuring the first number ordered, you will not be able to send them in any reasonable time. I make no doubt you will do your best for us” (Force, American Archives description begins Peter Force, ed. American Archives. 9 vols. Washington, D.C., 1837–53. description ends , 5th ser., 3:486).

4Ebenezer Backus (1740–1812) of Windham, who had been appointed major of the 4th Regiment of Connecticut light horse in June 1776, commanded the 2d and 4th Regiments of the state’s light horse during September and October when they temporarily reinforced GW’s army (see Jonathan Trumbull, Sr., to GW, 5, 20 September). Backus’s horsemen joined the Continental army by 21 Sept. and apparently served as vedettes particularly along the Westchester County coast (see William Heath to Backus, 21 Sept., 2 Oct., MHi: Heath Papers). In December Backus commanded a light-horse force that was sent to Rhode Island to assist in the defense of that state.

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