George Washington Papers

From George Washington to Brigadier General William Smallwood, 28 March 1778

To Brigadier General William Smallwood

Head Quarters Valley Forge 28th March 1778

Dear Sir

I was yesterday favd with yours without a date, inclosing the proceedings of a Court Martial held upon Colo. Hall of Maryland. Inclosed you have Copy of my opinion which is published in the General Orders of this day.1

I am informed that there still remains a considerable quantity of Hay between Chester and Wilmington upon the River side, particularly at one John Smiths near Marcus Hook. I would have you send an Officer immediately along the Shore to let the owners of the Hay know, that it must be removed some distance back from the Water without loss of time, otherwise we shall be obliged to burn it to prevent its falling into the Hands of the Enemy. You must allow a few days for the removal, and at the expiration of that time, what cannot be got off must be burned and Certificates, of the Quantity destroyed, given to the owners.

I have recd advice that four Regiments had embarked at New York, and that the Transports had fallen down to the Hook. It also appears by accounts from Rhode Island as if they were about to evacuate that place.2 I therefore desire you to keep a good look out for these Vessels, for I am fully of opinion that they are bound for Philada. If any Vessels come in, endeavour to discover whether they have any troops on Board.

I thought you had eight peices of Cannon at Wilmington. I would nevertheless have you send two peices with the Waggons belonging to them to Camp. Keep the best Horses with those that remain, that you may move rapidly upon occasion. If General Howe draws his force together, we must unite ours. I would therefore have you hold every thing in readiness to move at a moments warning, and I would recommend it to you and your Officers to remove any useless and heavy Baggage immediately. I would not have you hold up an Idea, that we have thoughts of leaving Wilmington, I would rather hint the contrary, and that I only disincumbered myself of my useless Baggage and Stores to act with more vigor.

As our Commissioners meet those from General Howe on Tuesday next, I hope the depositions wrote for will not be delayed beyond that time.3 I shall be glad to have Major Stewarts deposition, relative to his treatment while a prisoner, taken, and sent up as soon as possible.4 I am Dear Sir Yr most obt Servt

Go: Washington

P.S. The opinion shall be in my next.

LS (photocopy), in Tench Tilghman’s writing, DLC:GW; Df, DLC:GW; Varick transcript, DLC:GW.

1Smallwood’s undated letter, probably written about 26 Mar., and the enclosed proceedings have not been found. For the proceedings and Smallwood’s statement of 23 March contesting the verdict, see Smallwood, Trials description begins Proceedings of Several General Courts-Martial, Held, By order of Brigadier-general Smallwood, on the Trials of Col. J. Carvil Hall, and Capt. Edward Norwood. Annapolis, 1779. description ends , 5-19. GW’s opinion on the court-martial of Josias Carvil Hall was published not in the general orders of this day but rather in those of 2 April.

3Tuesday next was 31 March. These depositions were probably related to the statement about the treatment of the British prisoners taken with the Symmetry that GW had requested in his letter to Smallwood of 6 March.

4Major Stewart was probably John Steward (d. 1782) of the 2d Maryland Regiment, who was captured on Staten Island, 22 Aug. 1777, but escaped from a prison ship in December of that year. Steward had been appointed a first lieutenant of the 5th Independent Maryland company in January 1776, commissioned a captain of the 2d Maryland Regiment in December 1776, and promoted to major of that regiment in April 1777. In July 1779 Congress voted him a medal for bravery in the engagement at Stony Point. He was promoted to lieutenant colonel of the 1st Maryland Regiment in February 1781 and assumed command of that regiment in May 1782.

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