George Washington Papers

General Orders, 17 February 1778

General Orders

Head-Quarters V. Forge Tuesday Feby 17th 1778.

Parole: Ipswich—Countersigns: Inman. Isabel.

At a division Court Martial (Feby 13th 1778.) whereof Lieutt Coll Sprout was president, Lieutt Austin Alden of Coll Brewer’s Regiment, tried for behaving in many instances unbecoming the Character of an officer and gentleman, 1st in taking Jack Brown’s allowance of Whisky and drinking it and then refusing to pay for it—2nd In messing, frequently drinking & sleeping with the soldiers—3rdly—For writing Petitions for the soldiers and taking pay for the same.

The Court are unanimously of opinion that the prisoner is guilty of the whole & do sentence him to be discharged from the service—The Commander in Chief approves the aforegoing sentence & orders him to be discharg’d immediately and that his Commission be taken from him by the Commanding Officer of the Regiment.1

Varick transcript, DLC:GW.

Lt. Samuel Armstrong of the 8th Massachusetts Regiment wrote in his diary of the poor conditions at Valley Forge on this date: “for Seven or Eight Days back we have not received more than three or four Days Allowance of Meat which Occassioned much Desertion—We draw’d Yesterday, each Officer, one Quart of [Rum] & toDay, one Gill of Wiskey which I think created in me, an Appetite for to devour more provisions than I have dra[wn] these six days past” (Boyle, “Armstrong’s Diary,” description begins Joseph Lee Boyle. “From Saratoga to Valley Forge: The Diary of Lt. Samuel Armstrong.” Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography 121 (1997): 237–70. description ends 264–65).

1Austin Alden (1729–1804) of Gorham, Mass., served as a private in Col. Edmund Phinney’s Massachusetts Regiment in 1775, was appointed an ensign in the 18th Continental Regiment in January 1776, and was promoted to second lieutenant in May 1776. After November 1776 he was a first lieutenant in the 12th Massachusetts Regiment.

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