George Washington Papers

General Orders, 28 April 1777

General Orders

Head-Quarters, Morristown April 28th 1777.

Parole: Georgia.Countersign: Hartford.

Every Corps must immediately put their Arms in the best firing Order, and be completely furnished with Ammunition; the commanding Officers will see this done, as they will answer for the least neglect of this important duty1—The Qr Mr Genl to furnish them with Tents, and proper conveniencies for carrying them, that they may be ready to move with the troops, at the shortest notice.

The General laments the necessity he is laid under of repeating his Orders, by which Officers were forbid to ride about the Country, thus absenting themselves from their duty—If any sudden call for offensive or defensive measures should be made, during their absence, they will assuredly be brought to severe account.

The Major Generals will publish these Orders at their respective posts, for which purpose the Adjutant General will furnish them with copies.

The following Sentences of the General Court Martial, held at Boundbrook, whereof Major Robinson was President,2 are approved by the Commander in Chief.

Serjt William McDonald of the 5th Pennsylva Battalion reduced.

Samuel Philips, Private of the 8th Penn: Battalion reprimanded on the public parade.

Henry Randal, Private of the 8th Penn: Battalion acquitted and discharged from confinement.

Lieut: Simvall of the 8th Penn: Battalion for “Refusing to do duty”—Cashiered.3

Ensign McKee of the 8th Penn: Batt: acquitted and discharged from confinement.4

Samuel Haws, Private 5th Penn: Battalion to do duty as a Camp Colour-man ’till excused by his Colonel.

Michael McDonald Private 5th Penn: Battalion For “Leaving his post,” to receive 50 lashes.

Serjt Elisha Reynolds of the 5th Penn: Battalion for “Inlisting into two different regiments”—reduced to the ranks.

Serjt William Preston of the Wyoming Rangers, for “Having made known the Watch-Word to a person not entitled to receive it,” to be reprimanded in the presence of all the troops at Boundbrook.

Thomas Pickett, Private of Capt: Ransom’s Company, Wyoming Rangers, for “Desertion”—to receive 50 lashes.

Stephen Harding, Private of Capt: Durkee’s Company,5 Wyoming Rangers, for “Desertion”—to receive 50 lashes.

William Davidson, Private of Capt: Durkee’s Company, Wyoming Rangers, for “Desertion”—to receive 50 lashes.

Nathaniel Williams, Private of Capt: Durkee’s Company, Wyoming Rangers, for “Desertion”—to receive 50 lashes.

Nathaniel Faye, Private of Capt: Durkee’s Company, Wyoming Rangers, for Desertion—to receive 50 lashes. Richard Halstead, Private of Capt. Durkee’s Company, Wyoming Rangers—for “Desertion”—to receive 15 lashes.

James Bagley, Private of Capt: Durkee’s Company, Wyoming Rangers, for “Desertion”—to receive 50 lashes.

Hulver Harding, Private of Capt: Durkee’s Company, Wyoming Rangers, for “Desertion”—to receive 50 lashes.

John McIntire, Private in the 5th Penn: Battalion for “Threatning to desert to the Enemy”—to receive 100 lashes.

The Commander in Chief (taking into consideration the late distracted State of the 8th Pennsyl: Battalion, an inquiry into the cause of which he has directed to be made without loss of time)6 is pleased to suspend the execution of the Sentences of Alexander McKay—David Livinston, John Dilworth, John Edgar, Jacob Knight, John McClaugherry, William Roach, Daniel Clark, John Kirckendal, & Jacob Wilker—Privates of that Battalion, ’till the proceedings of the Court are reported to him.

Varick transcript, DLC:GW.

1GW’s aide-de-camp Alexander Hamilton wrote Gen. Benjamin Lincoln on 26 April: “It is his Excellency’s desire, that you have an immediate inspection made into the state of the mens arms and accoutrements, belonging to your division; and take effectual measures to have them put into the best order possible. Also to have your men completed to their proper complement of ammunition, strictly injoining the greatest care to avoid all wanton and unnecessary waste” (Syrett, Hamilton Papers description begins Harold C. Syrett et al., eds. The Papers of Alexander Hamilton. 27 vols. New York, 1961–87. description ends , 1:239–40).

2Thomas Robinson (1751–1819), a friend of Anthony Wayne, served as a captain in Wayne’s 4th Pennsylvania Regiment during 1776, and on 1 Jan. 1777 he became major of the 5th Pennsylvania Regiment. Wounded at the Battle of Brandywine on 11 Sept. 1777, Robinson was promoted to lieutenant colonel of the 1st Pennsylvania Regiment a short time later. He transferred to the 2d Pennsylvania Regiment as lieutenant colonel on 1 Jan. 1783.

3Alexander Simrall (1748–1834) became a second lieutenant in the 8th Pennsylvania Regiment in August 1776.

4David McKee was commissioned an ensign in the 8th Pennsylvania Regiment in October 1776.

5Robert Durkee (d. 1778) was captain of one of the two independent companies that were raised for the defense of the Wyoming Valley in August 1776 and which marched to reinforce GW’s army in December 1776 (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 , 5:698–99, 701, 6:1024). When the two companies were consolidated in June 1778, Durkee retired from the Continental service and returned home (see ibid., 11:634). He was killed at the Battle of Wyoming on 3 July 1778.

6For the dissension and lax discipline that had plagued the 8th Pennsylvania Regiment and the difficulties that it had experienced during its recent winter march from the Pennsylvania frontier to GW’s army in New Jersey, including the deaths from illness of its colonel and lieutenant colonel, see the Pennsylvania Council of Safety to GW, 29 Jan. 1777, and GW to the Pennsylvania Council of Safety, 14 Feb., 28 Mar. 1777. The regiment also suffered several casualties during the British attack on Bound Brook on 13 April. A return of the 8th Pennsylvania in June 1777 shows that of the 684 men enlisted in the regiment, 36 were prisoners of war, 14 were missing, 51 had died, 15 had been discharged, and 126 had deserted (see Pa. Archives description begins Samuel Hazard et al., eds. Pennsylvania Archives. 9 ser., 138 vols. Philadelphia and Harrisburg, 1852–1949. description ends , 5th ser., 3:307–8).

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