George Washington Papers

General Orders, 11 January 1778

General Orders

Head Quarters V. Forge Jany 11th 1778.

Parole: Countersign:

At a General Court Martial held 3rd instant in Lord Stirling’s division, whereof Lt Coll Brearly was President, John Rea Quarter-Master in 6th Pennsylvania Regiment charged with fraudulent Practices in said Regiment, ordering Lieutt Gibbons in the Provost, and behavior unbecoming the character of an Officer or a Gentlemen—was tried—and by the unanimous opinion of the Court was found guilty of a breach of 21st Article of 14th section of the articles of War and sentenced to be discharged from the service.1

At the same Court held 6th instant, was tried Lieutt Hays of 12th Pennsylvania Regt charged with breaking open officers Chests at Bethlehem & ungentlemanlike behaviour. The Court unanimously acquit him of the first charge, but find him guilty of a breach of 5th Article of 18th Section of the articles of War & sentence him to be dismissed from the service.2

The Commander in Chief approves both these sentences & orders them to be carried into execution accordingly.

Varick transcript, DLC:GW.

Brig. Gen. Edward Hand’s orderly book includes additional orders for a party of fifty-four men “to parade at sunrise to-morrow morning in front of the 2d Pensyla brigade & thence march to Fatland ford” and directions that “so many days fresh Provisions are to be issued to the Troops to Morrow morning, as will complete them to Wednesday next [14Jan.] inclusively” (DNA: RG 93, Orderly Books, 1775–1783, vol. 20). Henry Melchior Muhlenberg wrote in his journal on this date that “Early today a heavy snowfall began and continued throughout the day to a depth of over a foot” (Tappert and Doberstein, Muhlenberg Journals description begins Theodore G. Tappert and John W. Doberstein, trans. and eds. The Journals of Henry Melchior Muhlenberg. 3 vols. Philadelphia, 1942–58. description ends , 3:121).

1John Rea (Rhea) had been quartermaster of the 6th Pennsylvania Regiment since March 1777. James Gibbons (c.1758–1835) of Philadelphia became an ensign in the 5th Pennsylvania Regiment in January 1776, was taken prisoner at Fort Washington in November of that year, and was appointed a first lieutenant in the 6th Pennsylvania Regiment in February 1777. In July 1779, while acting as an aide to Gen. William Irvine, Gibbons was thanked by Congress and given the rank of captain by brevet for his conduct during the attack on Stony Point, N.Y. (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 , 14:890). He resigned in May 1781. Section 14, article 21 of the articles of war, passed by Congress on 20 Sept. 1776, decrees that “Whatsoever commissioned officer shall be convicted, before a general court-martial, of behaving in a scandalous, infamous manner, such as is unbecoming the character of an officer and a gentleman, shall be discharged from the service” (ibid., 5:804).

2John Hays had been appointed a second lieutenant in the 12th Pennsylvania Regiment in October 1776. Section 18, article 5 of the articles of war provides for officers and soldiers guilty of “disorders and neglects . . . to the prejudice of good order and military discipline” not mentioned in other articles of war to be tried “by a general or regimental court-martial, according to the nature and degree of the offence, and be punished at their discretion” (ibid., 5:807).

Index Entries