George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Lieutenant Colonel Isaac Sherman, 14 December 1777

From Lieutenant Colonel Isaac Sherman

Decr 14th 1777

May please Your Excellency

As there has been a complaint entered to your Excellency, respecting the behaviour of Colo. C. Webb’s Regt on the 7th instant—My Reputation and the honor of the Regt demand me to request a Court of Inquiry—I therefore solicit your Excellency to appoint a Court, to examin into the behaviour of the Regiment on sd Day—that Officers if they misbehaved may be justly exposed to publick Censure, if not, honourably Acquited.

I charge Genl Reed formerly Adjt Genl to your Excellency of putting Colo. C. Webb’s Regiment into confusion on the 7th inst. of giving orders entirely counter to mine—of hurrying the Men on with such rapidity and altering the disposition of the Regt that rendered it impossible for me to make a proper disposition of my Men, or the Regt to form so soon as one ought to do when fired upon by an Enemy—that notwithstanding I told him it was not in my power, or the Officers to keep the Men in order, if they went as he order’d; but he paid no attention to what I said—that, notwithstanding he took upon him the whole charge of the Regt when it was brought into a disagree situation, and the Enemy began to fire, he left the Regt and Field with precipitation.1 I have the Honor to be Your Excellencys, most Obedt humbe servt

Isaac Sherman Lieut. Colo.


1Sherman brought up this subject again in his letter to GW of 11 Mar. 1778, giving a detailed account of the movements of his troops on 5, 6, and 7 Dec. 1777 and repeating his request that a formal inquiry be made into this matter. A fortnight later, on 24 Mar., GW informed Sherman that if he would “fix a time I will order the Adjutant General to summon a proper Court and will give notice to General Reed, who is the principal person charged by you with reflecting upon your conduct to attend” (Df, DLC:GW). It is not known whether or not an inquiry ever occurred, however. William Gordon’s letter to GW of 2 Mar. 1778 also is highly critical of Reed and casts doubt upon Reed’s loyalty to the American cause.

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