George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Colonel Nicholas Haussegger, 16 January 1777

From Colonel Nicholas Haussegger

Philadelphia, January the 16th 177[7]


Last Night I arrived here from New York much indisposed with the Rheumatism and pains in my Limbs, occassioned by great Colds I caught, which deprives me of the Pleasure of waiting personally on your Excellency, and therefore take the Liberty, by the first Oppertunity vizt by Capn Keepots to inform your Excelly of my Safe Arrival here.1 Immediately after I come to Town I was credibly informed, that some malicious Persons have injured my Reputation, by misrepresenting Facts relating to the late Affair at Princetown.

I have taken the Liberty to inform your Excellency of the Manner of my Proceedings and of what happened to me from the 3d of this Instant to the Time of my Arrival here.

On the 3d of this Instant—one of your Excellency’s Aid de Camps ordered me to advance and cut off the Enemeys Retreat to Brunswick, and in order to proceed the swifter ordered my Battalion to lay down their Bagage and put a Guard over it, this being done I proceeded and met Capn Craig who informed me, that it was your Excellency’s Orders for me to march towards Millstone and to cut off the Enemeys Retreat, which said Orders I complyed with, and not discovering any of the Enemey there returned towards Princetown and coming up to the Place where I had ordered the sd Bagage to be left I sent my Battn under Lieut. Colonel Streiker over the Fence to take up their Bagage with Directions to follow me immediately, so I proceeded, with Capn Craig, on the Road towards Princetown, and within half a Mile of Princetown I met one of my Soldiers, who informed me, that the Enemey was at Princetown, upon which I sent Captn Craig back to Lieut: Colonel Streiker with Orders to keep the Battallion together and to march with all the Haste he could up to me through a Swamp and immediately after that I seen my Battallion crossing the Swamp towards Princetown,2 then I pushed forwards along the Road in Order to Head the Battallion, And as I come to the Plains of Princetown I heard a Fireing, thinking that my Battallion was engaged with the Enemy whom I was persuing, thereupon I rode towards the Battallion into the Woods, and to my great Surprize was stoped by a Party of the Enemy’s, who took me Prisoner and brought me to their Commander, whose Name I do not recollect who sent me to Lord Cornwallis near Princetown where I met with Generals Grant and Lesle. General Grant, then let me go, on my Parole, about Princetown, here I stayed till about Evening when the Enemy’s Army marched through Princetown I was delivered to Colonel Dunop of the Hessians, who on the 4th of this Instant took me to Brunswick, where we stayed two Days, And on the 6th I was sent with General Heisters Son to New-York, where I arrived the 7th by whoes Interest and Colonel Donap’s Recommendation to General Heister’s I obtained Liberty to return home on my Parole, And on the 12th of January I left New-York in Company with several Officers who also returned on their Parole, And four Shallops with about 400 Prisoners who all returned to their respective Homes on their Parole.

Having stated Matters as they, in Fact, are I leave it to the Judgment of your Excellency whether or no I acted as a Gentleman Officer ought to do.3 I am your Excellency’s most obedient humble Servant

Nichls Haussegger

LS, NN: Schuyler Papers. The copyist of this letter inadvertently wrote 1776 in the dateline.

1George Peter Keeports of Baltimore was appointed a lieutenant in Capt. Nathaniel Smith’s Maryland artillery company in January 1776 and a captain in the German Regiment on 8 July 1776. Keeports resigned his commission in the German Regiment in May 1777 and returned to Baltimore, where as a member of the local militia he was placed in charge of the city’s magazines and stores.

2Charles Craig (d. 1782) of Reading, Pa., served as a lieutenant in Col. William Thompson’s Pennsylvania Rifle Regiment from June to November 1775 when he was promoted to captain. Craig served as a captain in the 1st Continental Regiment from 1 Jan. to 31 Dec. 1776, and on 10 Jan. 1777 he was appointed a captain in the 4th Continental Dragoons. Craig apparently resigned from the army in the spring of 1778 (see Craig to GW, 5 Mar. 1778, in DLC:GW).

3For allegations that Haussegger deserted his regiment during the Battle of Princeton and afterwards attempted to persuade American prisoners-of-war held at New York to join the British army, see Reed, Joseph Reed description begins William B. Reed. Life and Correspondence of Joseph Reed, Military Secretary of Washington, at Cambridge; Adjutant-General of the Continental Army; Member of the Congress of the United States; and President of the Executive Council of the State of Pennsylvania. 2 vols. Philadelphia, 1847. description ends , 1:286, and Graydon, Memoirs description begins Alexander Graydon. Memoirs of His Own Time. With Reminiscences of the Men and Events of the Revolution. Edited by John Stockton Littell. Philadelphia, 1846. description ends , 237–38. The Continental Congress executive committee informed Hancock on 14 Jan. that it had received “bad reports & Suspicions” respecting Haussegger, including the accusation that while in New York City Haussegger had exchanged his red cockade for a black one, but when writing to Hancock on 17 Jan. the executive committee said that it had examined Haussegger, who was free on parole, and that Haussegger had given the committee “such an acct of the manner in which he was taken & the cause of the Enemies favourable treatment of him as in our opinion wipes off the suspicions that many People had entertained of foul play” (Continental Congress executive committee to Hancock, 14, 17 Jan. 1777, in DNA:PCC, item 137; see also Smith, Letters of Delegates description begins Paul H. Smith et al., eds. Letters of Delegates to Congress, 1774–1789. 26 vols. Washington, D.C., 1976–2000. description ends , 6:95–97, 117–19). Haussegger also defended himself in a letter to Col. Edward Hand of the Pennsylvania rifle regiment, written on 14 Jan., in which he requests Hand to “Accquaint” GW with the details of his capture at Princeton and his subsequent treatment by the British (NHi: Gates Papers). Although the Continental Congress directed the Board of War to “enquire into the nature of the charges” against Haussegger on 11 Feb., evidence credible enough to bring Haussegger to trial apparently never materialized, and in mid-February he returned to his home near Reading, Pa., after briefly visiting GW’s headquarters to defend himself (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 , 7:107, GW to Gates, 12 Feb., and Gates to GW, 15 February).

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