George Washington Papers

From George Washington to Major General Adam Stephen, 20 April 1777

To Major General Adam Stephen

Morris Town 20th April 1777

D. Sir

The horseman delivered your favour of this date—You will be pleased to order Lieut. Bradford under Arrest, that he may answer the Charge of the Court of Inquiry immediately—Capt. Russell must be called upon to account for his long Absence from his Regimt as well as for having inlisted his Men but for a year1—I lament Capt. Conway’s loss; but tho’ my Indignation at such ungenerous Conduct of the Enemy might at first prompt me to Retaliation, yet Humanity & Policy forbid the measure—Experience proves that their wanton Cruelty injures rather than benefits their Cause; That, with our Forbearance, justly secures to Us the Attachment of all good Men—I can not therefore consent to your proposition being carried any farther.

I am about to make a new disposition of the Troops, & have for a beginning ordered the Militia under Genl Heard at & about Millstone to move up directly—They are to guard the interiour parts of the Country from this place, to Pompton & cover the neighbourhood of Hackinsac—At which posts they will be in a few days—The Continentl Troops here will move to the Lines to supply their places—Genl Maxwell returns about 100 Militia under Majr Potter2—these you may move off in such a manner as to cooperate with any design you may form upon Hoebuck at a future day. I am &c.

G. W——n

Df, in George Johnston’s writing, DLC:GW; Varick transcript, DLC:GW.

GW’s aide-de-camp George Johnston on 19 April wrote Stephen in reply to an earlier unidentified letter: “Your favour accompanied by Genl Maxwell’s reachd his Excellency just now. In answer he commands me to inform you that, for the reasons assigned in the letters, he is of the same opinion with you as to the Enemy’s design to attack some of your Posts, for which purpose ’tis probable their late move toward Bonum town is designed. He therefore desires, that you will prepare, & Immediately Order all the Troops at Whippany, fit for duty, to take the Field.

“Inclosed is an Order for Two hundred Dollars for secret Intelligence—I would have drawn the Money, but the Rules of the Office will not admit—moreover I did not much esteem the Conveyance—You must send a written Order on the back of the Warrant” (DLC:GW).

1Stephen enclosed in his letter to GW of this date a copy of the proceedings of a court of inquiry on these two officers that was held at Chatham on 17 April. The court, over which Col. George Mathews presided, found “that Mr [William] Bradford was sick about the 8th of Decr 1776 & apply’d to Capt. [Gabriel] Long of his Regiment for leave to look for quarters, that Capt. Long refered him to Genl [Hugh] Mercer who, commanded the Brigade, who gave him leave to find sick quarters in the Neighbourhood of Trenton ferry where his Brigade at that time laye.

“That Mr Bradford instead of geting quarters thereabout went off to MaryLand where he remain’d untill the 27th of March 1777 at which time he joind his regiment at Chatham.

“Lt Bradford pleads sickness as an excuse for his Absense—The Court find by the Regimental returns of Colo. Rawlings Battn that Lt Bradford was returnd absent without leave.

“The Court then resumed the other part of Genl Stephens order, with respect to Capt. [Andrew] Russell As no particular charge is laid against that Gentleman the Court are at a loss in what manner to proceed on an enquiry into his Conduct.

“We find the difference of late in Colo. Rawlings Regimental returns owing to the return of Lt Bradford—one serjt & 5 privates ⟨wh⟩o was reported absent without leave in that ⟨reg⟩iment” (DLC:GW).

A court-martial on 14 May acquitted Russell and did not try Bradford, because no witnesses appeared to support the charge against him (see Stephen to GW, 15 May, and General Orders, 23 May). Bradford, who had been a first lieutenant in Col. Moses Rawling’s rifle regiment since July 1776, apparently resigned from the army in April 1778.

2Reuben Potter (1717–1799) was second major of the 1st Regiment of Middlesex County, N.J., militia from August 1776 to April 1778, when he resigned his commission.

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