George Washington Papers

General Orders, 15 February 1778

General Orders

Head-Quarters V. Forge Sunday Feby 15th 1778.

Parole: Gibralter—Countersigns: Greene. Glover.

As the public teams are now employed and the troops are in immediate want of straw, the Commander in Chief anxious to have them furnished with every necessary to make them comfortable, desires the Brigadiers and officers commanding Brigades each to send out a party properly officered to procure straw and impress waggons to haul it to camp where they will deliver it to their respective Brigade Quarter-Masters who are to make an equal distribution thereof to the several Regiments according to their numbers present.

The General officers are desired to meet at General Sullivan’s quarters tomorrow morning ten ôClock to take into consideration and determine upon the Memorial of the Captains in the Pennsylvania Line against the promotion of Michael Ryan Esqr. to the Majority of a Regiment1 likewise to settle the rank of Captain Grier.2

The Court Martial whereof Coll Wigglesworth is President is dissolved and another ordered to sit tomorrow at ten oClock in the forenoon at the Bake-House for the trial of prisoners brought before them—A Captain from each Brigade to attend as Members—Coll Cortlandt President.

Abstracts for the month of december’s pay, not yet sent in to the Pay-Master General are to be sent to him for examination so as to be ready for payment as soon as the money arrives.

Pay-Rolls immediately to be made out & presented for the month’s extraordinary pay mentioned in the orders of 3rd of January, given as a reward for the virtuous patience and Zeal of the troops under the Inconveniencies of their present situation; to comprehend all the officers & men in camp on 29th of december, the time the resolution was passed and such as may have since joined the army to the date of the Pay-Rolls—This however is not meant to be final or to exclude those who may hereafter assert a reasonable claim to the benefit of the resolve—Difficulties having arisen as to the construction of it which have been submitted to Congress, and it is not to be doubted they will give a liberal explanation.3

Varick transcript, DLC:GW.

Francis Dana, who was a member of the Continental Congress camp committee that was meeting at Moore Hall, rode through camp at Valley Forge on this date to see for himself the state of the army. He reported to Elbridge Gerry on the following day that “upon an average every regiment had been destitute of fish or flesh four days. On Saturday evening [14 Feb.] they received, some three-fourths and others one half pound of salted pork a man—not one day’s allowance.” Dana added that there was a danger of “mutiny in the army. Sunday morning colonel Brewer’s [12th Massachusetts] regiment rose in a body and proceeded to general Patterson’s quarters, in whose brigade they are, laid before him their complaints, and threatened to quit the army. By a prudent conduct he quieted them, but was under a necessity of permitting them to go out of camp to purchase meat as far as their money would answer, and to give their certificates for the other, and he would pay for it. The same spirit was rising in other regiments, but has been happily suppressed for the present by the prudence of some of their officers” (Smith, Letters of Delegates description begins Paul H. Smith et al., eds. Letters of Delegates to Congress, 1774–1789. 26 vols. Washington, D.C., 1976–2000. description ends , 9:108–9). For GW’s efforts to secure provisions, see his letter to Nathanael Greene of 12 February.

2Capt. James Grier had written GW from “Camp near Vally Forge” on 14 Feb.: “I find myself constrain’d to adress you on a Subject in which I think myself very much Injured—Whether from Causes which I cannot explain, or whether without any at all I am at a Loss to determine—I have forborne hitherto, to make Aplication, from a Sense that the Duty I owed to my Country was Superior to every private Consideration, and that the private Injury of an Individual ought to give way to the Publick Good.

“Early in Augt 1775 I arived at Cambridge a first Lieutenant in the Battallion (then) Commanded by Coll Thompson, and upon the Settlement of the Regimental Rank, was appointed Second on that list—Coll Millar who was then number one of the first Lieutenants, was promoted to the Command of the first vacant Compy in the Regiment—Of course the next vacant Company fell to me—But in this I was disapointed from a Second Arrangement in the Regiment—The next vacancy hapened at the promotion of Major Magaw to the Command of a Regiment, which was the third day of January 1776 (I being than on Command with General Lee to Virginia) my Commission was Unjustly delay’d and dated the Seventh of March following—In this capacity I have acted ever Since Through all the Fatagues and Hardships the army has undergone Looking forward Constantly, to a Time when in a less hurried Setuation of afairs, Justice would be done me.

“Unhappely in Raiseing of new Regiments in Pennsyla It was found that not only I, but all the Corps to which I belong was neglected—But even this Inconveniancy and Injury was Submitted to, under a Consideration that Possably the Cause of our Country might Require it—I now find myself (since the last arrangement) Dayly Commanded by Officiers in the State, who had not the Honour of wearing a Commission in the Service, at the time the Command of a Company fell to me However Motives of Duty to the best of Causes have hitherto prompted me to persevere, yet as the army is now in Quarters, I cannot but Look up to your Excellancy for a Redress of the Injustice done me in the loss of my Rank in the Army—From the above State of my case It must be Submitted to your Excellancy (however painfull it may be to me) in praying that You will Accept of this my Resignation unless Justice is done me, which I conceive I have a Right to ask, at the Hands of those in power—I have the Honour to be Your Excellancys most Obedeant and Devoted Humble Sevt Jams Grier Capt. 1st Contenental Regiment” (DNA: RG 93, manuscript file no. 31416). The report of the board of general officers respecting Grier was published in the general orders of 20 February.

Index Entries