George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Joseph Reed, 13 February 1777

From Joseph Reed

Philadelphia Feb. 13. 1777

Dear Sir

I did myself the Pleasure of addressing you a few Days ago on a particular Occasion & then expected to have attended you in less than a Week1—but the Difficulty of procuring a proper Retreat for my Family & adjusting my Affairs will make it longer: But if in the Settlement of the Cartel or any other Occasion you think I can be of Service, I will obey the earliest Summons. We have not been successful in finding the Cartel settled last War which was expected to be met with in this Place.2

I find there has been a Hessian Officer at This Place, who has been permitted to visit the Prisoners in their Quarters—I would suggest to your Excelly the Same Thing on our Part if there are any Prisoners yet remaining in New York—Since I have been in Town I have received the inclosed letter from Col. Miles—I shall take the first Oppy of writing him that I am sure every Step will be taken for his Relief that depends upon you. As they are now removed to Long Island I make no Doubt some Distinction will be shewn the Officers.3

I flatter myself that I shall be favoured with a Line from your Excelly as soon as you know the Determination of Congress with Respect to myself. Should any other Appointment take Place I shall be happy to attend you in a private Capacity & especially while Jersey is the Seat of War, where my Knowledge of the Country & its Inhabitants may enable me to render more Service than Strangers of much superiour Abilities—The most certain Conveyance of a Letter to me will be under Cover to Col: Moylan, with whom I shall Leave my Directions in the Country.

Col. Griffin I am informed is somewhat disappointed that among the many Promotions he has been overlook’d. He wish’d to serve in the Horse. I am sure your Goodness will excuse my reminding your Excelly of Gentlemen of Merit who in the Multiplicity of your Engagements may escape your Memory—If there is any more Room I cannot but think his Zeal & Services last Summer will recommend him to your Favour.

In the short Absence of the Men of War from our Capes we have had several Arrivals with Salt & other West India Articles particularly Rum. A Ship deeply laden arrived from France a few Days ago & several others with Arms & military Stores are hourly expected. The Passengers by this Ship do not seem to promise an early Declaration of War between France & England but speak of it as a certain Event if there is not some very great Change of Circumstances in the mean Time.

The Affairs of this Province are in a very unhappy State—I very much fear that should the Enemy make an Impression they would receive more solid Assistance & Support from the Quaker & Proprietary Parties now united than they have yet had both from New York & New Jersey.

I have kept the Adj: Generals Commission in Compliance with what seemed to be your Excellys Wishes in order to sound Major Morris—I must beg that you would favour me by ordering the Matter so that I may resign the Commission before my Successor receives his: as even the Appearance of being suspended would give me some Mortification, & possibly gratify some whom I may have inadvertently tho unintentionally offended. I am with great Respect & Affection Dear Sir Your Obliged & most Obed. Hbble Servt

J. Reed


2Reed is referring to the Treaty and Conventions of Ecluse, for the Sick, Wounded, and Prisoners of War, of the land forces of His Majesty, the King of Great Britain, and His Most Christian Majesty, also known as the Treaty of Sluys or the Cartel. The agreement was concluded at Sluys, Flanders, on 6 Feb. 1759 by Louis-Jacques-Charles Le Prévost, marquis du Barail, and British major general Henry Seymour Conway (see Horace Walpole to Conway, 19, 28 Jan. 1759, Conway to Walpole, 21, 28 Jan. 1759, in Walpole’s Correspondence description begins W. S. Lewis et al., eds. The Yale Edition of Horace Walpole’s Correspondence. 48 vols. New Haven, 1937–83. description ends , 38:1–2, 3–6, 7–9, 9–12; see also Savory, His Britannic Majesty’s Army in Germany description begins Reginald Arthur Savory. His Britannic Majesty’s Army in Germany during the Seven Years War. Oxford, England, 1966. description ends , 462–64). Although GW experienced difficulty in locating a copy of the treaty, he had received one by the time the Board of War ordered it to be reprinted in the summer of 1777 (see Charles Thomson to GW, 21 July 1777, in MH, and GW to Thomson, 28 July 1777, LS, in DNA:PCC, item 152). A French copy of the treaty, along with an English translation, is printed in Doughty, Journal of Captain John Knox description begins John Knox. An Historical Journal of the Campaigns in North America For the Years 1757, 1758, 1759, and 1760. Edited by Arthur G. Doughty. 3 vols. Toronto, 1914–16. description ends , 3:258–88.

3Reed enclosed Samuel Miles’s letter to him of 25 Jan. 1777 respecting Miles’s exchange and the plight of a number of other American officers imprisoned with him at New York: “I little expected when I had the pleasure of seeing you last, that I should have continued a prisoner so long as I have done. I had then the strongest assurences from Mr [John] Foxcroft, that he would be accepted in exchange for me, but find that he was either deceived himself, or deceived me, the latter I now beleive to be the case, so that I have not the most distant prospect of an exchange for myself. this does not effect me so much, as the situation of the Other Officers, who are prisoners with me, A number of whom have been in Captivity now near five Months—entirely Neglected by Congress—not the least provission made for them, nor any part of their pay remitted them. and tho’ General Howe thro’ Mr Loring assured us, that as soon as the British prisoners come in, we should all be sent home (of which I acquainted the Congress & Genl Washington) yet there is not a single Officer or soldier come in from the Eastward, nor can I learn that there is any prospect of their coming. I dare say the General has good reasons for posponing the exchange, but permit me to say, that I think it very hard, that we should suffer for those reasons. I should not in the least Murmer at our being detain[ed] prisoners, had that attention been paid to us, that I conceive our Caractor as Officers (whatever our services may have been) call’d for. What have survived of the soldiers are principally sent home. they have suffer’d much from their confinement here, but as their suffering are now I hope nearly at an end, shall say nothing more of them. but there are upwards of 250 Officers remaining who are lately sent to Long Island, and billeted there. the greater part of them are entirely destitute of cash, & many of them bare of cloathing. I hope you will excuse my freedom in requesting, which I do most earnestly, that you will communicate their situation to the General, & use your influence with him, that some provission may be imediately made for their proper & more comfortable support” (DLC:GW)

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