George Washington Papers

To George Washington from General William Howe, 15 March 1778

From General William Howe

Philadelphia 15th March 1778


I have received your Letter of the 12th Instant wherein I observe you still persevere in the Procrastination of the meeting of the Commissioners. That a Measure urged by yourself as confessedly interesting to the unhappy Prisoners on both Sides, and in which I cannot conceive you to be controuled, should be thus peremptorily suspended without any Reason assigned, carries with it the appearance of something disingenuous.

My last Letter was in my opinion clear and explicit on the Subject of General Lee; and my proposition concerning Genl Prescot might I think have obviated any Suspicion of Ambiguity on my Part.1

On the Arrival of Lieut. Colonel Campbell any officer of yours of the same Rank whom you may be pleased to name shall be immediately released. Mr Ethan Allen I understand bears the Rank of Colonel.2 I am with due Respect Sir Your most obedient Servant

(Signed) W: Howe.

Copy, P.R.O., 30/55, Carleton Papers no. 1015, p. 144; copy, P.R.O., 30/55, Carleton Papers no. 1015, p. 163; two copies, P.R.O., Colonial Office, Secretary of State’s Correspondence with Commander-in-Chief, North America.

2On 17 Mar., GW’s secretary Robert Hanson Harrison wrote Commissary General of Prisoners Elias Boudinot referring to this letter, “which came to hand last night,” and asking him to “inform me Whether the List you have mentioning Allen to be a Lt Colo, is signed by Mr. Loring or by whom. . . . We must write Sir William immediately concerning our Friend Allen” (Boyle, Writings from the Valley Forge Encampment description begins Joseph Lee Boyle, ed. Writings from the Valley Forge Encampment of the Continental Army, December 19, 1777–June 19, 1778. 3 vols. Bowie, Md., 2000–2002. description ends , 2:82). Boudinot apparently replied that the list was signed by Joshua Loring, for GW asserted in his reply to Howe of 22 Mar. that Loring had acknowledged Ethan Allen’s rank as lieutenant colonel.

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