George Washington Papers

General Orders, 24 October 1777

General Orders

Head Quarters, Whitpain Township [Pa.] Octobr 24th 1777.

Parole: Princeton.Countersigns: Trenton. Brunswick.

Many abuses having been committed in impressing horses for the army, The Commander in Chief positively orders, that henceforward, no horse be impressed by any member of the army, without an order therefor from the Qr Mr General, or order of his deputies or assistants, or a special order from the Commander in Chief.

The Brigade Quarter Masters are to make returns, to morrow afternoon, at five o’clock, of all the riding and bat-horses used in their respective brigades, and the persons and their ranks, and in whose service they are used.

A General Court Martial, of which Genl Sullivan is appointed president, is to sit to morrow morning, at nine o’clock, at the president’s quarters, for the trial of Brigadier General Wayne, upon this charge against him—“That he had timely notice of the enemy’s intention, to attack the troops under his command, on the night of the 20th Ult: and notwithstanding that intelligence, neglected making a disposition until it was too late, either to annoy the enemy, or make a retreat without the utmost danger and confusion.”1 Brigadiers General Muhlenberg, Weedon, Conway and Huntington. Colonels Stevens, Dayton—McClenahan, Stewart & Bradley—and Lt Cols. Davies—De-Hart and Thackston,2 are appointed members.

A return is to be made of swords wanting in the brigade of horse; as deficiencies may now be supplied.

Altho’ the enterprize under General McDougall proved fruitless, by reason that the enemy had abandoned the post intended to have been attacked, yet the Commander in Chief deems his thanks due to the officers and men, detached for that service, who two nights successively, crossed and recrossed the Schuylkill—and to those also, under Generals Sullivan & Greene, who were designed to facilitate General McDougall’s operation, for the fortitude and chearfulness with which they went thro’ the night marches and fatigues, which occurred in the expedition.3

After Orders. The General Court Martial for the trial of Brigadier Genl Wayne is called at his own request.4

Varick transcript, DLC:GW.

1For an account of the British surprise attack on Wayne’s division at its camp near Paoli, Pa., on the night of 20–21 Sept., see Wayne to GW, 21 Sept., and note 2. For the ambiguous opinion of the court of inquiry that previously had considered Wayne’s conduct at Paoli, see General Orders, 11 Oct., n.1, and Wayne to GW, 17, 22 October. For Wayne’s acquittal by the general court-martial, see General Orders, 1 Nov. 1777.

2James Thackston (d. 1792) of Orange County, N.C., who had been appointed a militia colonel in September 1775, became lieutenant colonel of the 4th North Carolina Regiment in April 1776. He retired from the Continental army in January 1781.

3For General McDougall’s unsuccessful recent attempts to intercept a British provision convoy coming from Chester and to attack a British outpost at Gray’s Ferry on the Schuylkill River, see GW to James Potter, 21 Oct., and note 2, and Joseph Reed to GW, 23 Oct., and note 1.

4For Wayne’s request to be tried by a court-martial, see his letters to GW of 17 and 22 October.

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