George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Joseph Webb, Jr., 30 January 1778

From Joseph Webb, Jr.

Newyork Janry 30th 1778

May it Please your Excellency

I Enclose you a Copy of my Flag from His Excellency Govr Trumbull & wou’d let you know that after a most fatigueing Jaunt, we arrived safe here with General Prescott, Capt. Barrington his Ade de Camp & the others mentioned in the flag except Majr Huntington who being an Officer in the Army they thot cou’d not consistantly be addmitted He’s return’d—I am treated by the first in power with the greatest politeness and am allow’d to Enquire particular about the American Prisoner’s and must say I cou’d wish a general Exchange might take place in an Honorable way1—I have applied for Cloathing & Monies for the British Prisoner’s Quarter’d in Connecticut. But find the 40th Regt 55th & Several other’s are at Philadelphia & nothing to be done for ’em unless application can be made to the Several Pay Master’s &c. in consequence of which I have thot it best to send the Bearer to you beging you, if Consistant to Allow him to Pass into Philadelphia & Return as soon as may be to me with the Necessary Order’s—The British Prisoner’s with us are much in want; I hope the step’s I have taken will meet with your Excellency’s Approbation and that the Bearer may soon safe return to me where I shall wait with impatience—you’ll Observe by the flag it was proposed I shou’d offer Col. Lawrence for my Brother, but I find it not agreeable I sincerely hope the first proposal make take place & that Colo. Campbell may be acceptable to your Excellency2—I have to accquaint You that I had the pleasure of waiting on General Lee this day who is Extreemly well & for this Month past has been Allow’d the City at large, is treated with much Civility & politeness.

you’ll further please to Observe My flag says General Prescot is to be Exchanged for his Equal Rank by me, of that they know nothing of but as his parole run’s he’s to remain here the particular’s I conclude you know much better than myself.

His Excellency General Robertson has been polite Enough to say he even wishes me to veiw the Hospitals &c. &c. & examine ’em in the most Critical Manner; as yet I confess I have not but Expect to before I leave this; I am to carry back Colo. Lawrence & Colo. DeLancy who will remain untill duly Exchanged—I am your Excellencys most Obt H. Servt

Joseph Webb


1The enclosed “Flag,” of which Elias Boudinot sent GW another copy on 2 Mar., has not been identified. Boudinot also complained in his letter of 2 Mar. that “on my Arrival at New York I was distressed to find, that the most unfair and ungenerous partial Exchanges had been and was then carrying on from the State of Connecticut. Mr Joseph Webb was then there the second time by Virtue of a Flag of Truce from Govr Trumbull . . . on finding a Number of Officers and privates exchanged by Mr Webb, contrary to their due order, I put a Stop to it and directed the oldest in Captivity to take their place” (for other letters expressing disapproval of Gov. Jonathan Trumbull, Sr.’s attempt to exchange officers, see Israel Putnam to GW, 13 Feb., and Alexander McDougall to GW, 17 February). Prescott would not be exchanged for Maj. Gen. Charles Lee until May.

William Barrington was commissioned a lieutenant in the British 7th Regiment of Foot in February 1775 but by this time apparently had attained the rank of captain in his capacity as Maj. Gen. Richard Prescott’s aide, with whom he was captured in July 1777. Barrington had already endured a period of captivity in 1775–76 (see GW to Benjamin Franklin, 18 Aug. 1776).

2Trumbull’s flag apparently suggested the possibility of offering Loyalist officers James DeLancey or Elisha Lawrence in exchange for Col. Samuel Blachley Webb, who had been captured during a raid on Long Island in December 1777 (see Webb to GW, 29 Dec. 1777, and GW to Webb, 8 Jan. 1778).

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