George Washington Papers

General Orders, 26 October 1777

General Orders

Head Quarters, Whitpain [Township, Pa.] October 26th 1777.

Parole Worcester.C. Signs Rutland. Salem.

The Court of enquiry of which General Greene was president, relative to the complaint against General Maxwell, report their opinion as follows—“The Court of enquiry having fully inquired into the complaints, exhibited by Lieut. Col. Heth, against Brigadier General Maxwell, while commanding the light-corps, are clearly of opinion, that they are without foundation; saving that it appears, he was once during said time disguised with liquor in such a manner, as to disqualify him in some measure, but not fully, from doing his duty; and that once or twice besides his spirits were a little elevated by spiritous liquor—The court submit to His Excellency’s better judgment, whether Genl Maxwell from these instances of deviation, ought to be subjected to a trial by court martial.”

The Commander in Chief directs that the General Court Martial of which Genl Sullivan is president, as soon as the trial before them is finished, proceed to the trial of Brigadier General Maxwell, upon the complaints referred to in the foregoing report.1

The Commander in Chief approves the following sentences of a General Court martial, of which Col. Brodhead was president, held the 17th—18th and 19th instant, and orders that they be put in execution forthwith—viz.

Lieut. Col. John Markham, of the 8th Virginia regiment, charged with “Having left the regiment in time of action, on the 4th instant, and also, on the retreat of the same day”; and also charged with “Delay when ordered to support the advanced guard”—was, by the unanimous opinion of the court, found guilty of the charges exhibited against, and sentenced to be cashiered.

Capt. McCormick of the 13th Virginia regiment charged with “Laying down in time of action and behaving in a cowardly, unofficerlike manner”—was acquitted with honor.2

Lieut: Crain of the 15th Virginia regt charged with “Disobedience of orders, also with breaking his arrest”—acquitted by the unanimous opinion of the court.3

Lieut. Thomas Moore of Capt. Harrison’s company in the 13th Virginia regiment charged with “Encouraging the men to breed a mutiny, and otherwise behaving unbecoming the character of a Gentleman or officer”—was acquitted.4

Thomas Roach a matross in Capt. Serjeants company of artillery in Col. Crane’s regt of artillery charged with “Desertion, and attempting to go to the enemy”—The Court are unanimously of opinion the prisoner is guilty of the charge against him, and do unanimously sentence him to suffer death. This sentence is to be executed to morrow at twelve o’clock, near the artillery park, 60 men with officers, from each brigade, are to attend the execution.5

Capt. Thomas Patterson of Col. Dayton’s regiment, is appointed Brigade Major (pro tempore) for Genl Maxwell’s brigade, and is to be obeyed as such.

After Orders. The execution of Thomas Roach is respited for three days.

Varick transcript, DLC:GW.

1For Brig. Gen. William Maxwell’s subsequent trial and acquittal on these charges, see General Orders, 30 Oct., 4, 8 November.

2George McCormick (1742–1820) was appointed a captain in the 13th Virginia Regiment in December 1776, and he resigned his commission in September 1778.

3James Crain (Crane) of Lancaster County, Va., had served as a private and a sergeant in the 15th Virginia Regiment before being commissioned a second lieutenant in November 1776. He was promoted to first lieutenant in April 1778, and in April 1780 he became a captain in the regiment, which by that time had been renumbered as the 11th Virginia Regiment. Transferring to the 4th Virginia Regiment in February 1781, Crain served to the end of the war.

4Thomas Moore (1745–1823), who had become a first lieutenant in the 13th Virginia Regiment in November 1776, was promoted to captain in January 1778, and he left the army in January 1780. Benjamin Harrison of the District of West Augusta, Va., had been a captain in the regiment since December 1776. He continued in that rank after the regiment was renumbered as the 9th Virginia Regiment in September 1779, and he retired from the army in February 1781 with the rank of major.

5Thomas Roche (Roach) of Salem, Mass., entered Col. John Crane’s 3d Continental Artillery Regiment as a matross in April 1777 and eventually was promoted to corporal and to sergeant, serving until 1781. GW postponed Roche’s execution in the after orders of this date and again on 30 Oct. and pardoned him on 1 Nov. (see the general orders for those dates).

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