George Washington Papers

General Orders, 11 April 1778

General Orders

Head-Quarters V. Forge Saturday April 11th 1778

Parole: Armenia—Countersign: Alfred—Arnold—

The Commander in Chief earnestly calls on all officers to pay the strictest attention to the General order of 28th of January last respecting their mens Ammunition and in addition to that order, He directs that whenever a non commissioned officer or soldier is detected in discharging his Piece or otherwise wasting his Ammunition the first Commissioned Officer he is brought before shall order him to be tied up immediately and receive thirty nine lashes on his bare back; and as many soldiers contrary to good order often straggle into the Woods or by places to avoid being detected, no soldier in future to be allowed to carry his Arms and Accoutrements out of Camp unless on duty, and whenever the report of a Gun is heard in the Vicinity of the Camp, the Commanding officers of Regiments are desired to send off parties under non Commissioned officers to apprehend the delinquent & bring him to immediate punishment.

The Commanding officers of Regiments & Corps will see that [th]is order is read to their officers & men and the Commanders of Companies will be careful to inform all their men now absent of this order when they return to Camp.

At a General Court-Martial whereof Colonel Vose is President April 1st 1778—Doctor Vacke of 4th New-York Regiment tried for neglect of duty, disobedience of orders, behaving unbecoming a Gentleman and an officer, using menacing language to his Colonel & spreading false reports to his prejudice, found not guilty of either of the charges exhibited against him and unanimously acquitted with honor1—Also Ensign Bloomfield of 3rd Jersey Battalion tried by the same Court for conducting in an unofficer, unsoldierlike manner in suffering himself to be surprised by the Enemy near their lines; After mature deliberation, the court are unanimously of opinion that Ensign Bloomfield is not guilty of the Charge exhibited against him and that his conduct far from being unofficerlike merits applause and is worthy of Imitation.2

The Commander in Chief confirms the aforegoing opinions of the Court, and orders Doctr Vacke and Ensign Bloomfield to be immediately discharged from their Arrest.

At the same Court Ensign Kirk of Coll Grayson’s Regiment tried for suffering Major Taylor one of the officers of the day to surprise him at his Picquet, for, permitting several of his guard to be asleep with their Accoutrements off and for not demanding either the Parole or Countersign after the Guard was paraded, found guilty of the charge exhibited against him and sentenced to be reprimanded by the Commanding officer of his Regiment. The General approves the sentence and orders it to take place tomorrow.3

Varick transcript, DLC:GW.

The orderly book of the 2d Pennsylvania Regiment for this date begins with an additional order: “The Genl Court martial whereof Brigadier Genl Poor was president is dissolved” (“Orderly Book of the Second Pennsylvania,” description begins John W. Jordan, ed. “Orderly Book of the Second Pennsylvania Continental Line, Col. Henry Bicker.” Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography 35 (1911): 333–42, 463–96; 36 (1912): 30–59, 236–53, 329–45. description ends 35:485; see also Brig. Gen. Edward Hand’s orderly book, DNA: RG 93, Orderly Books, 1775–1783, vol. 22, and 1st Virginia State Regiment orderly book, ViHi).

1John Francis Vacher (1751–1807), a native of France, was appointed surgeon of the 4th New York Regiment in February 1777 and served to 1 Jan. 1781, when he was deranged as part of the consolidation of New York regiments. After the war he remained in New York City as a doctor and became a naturalized citizen. The colonel of the 4th New York Regiment, Henry Beekman Livingston, mentioned this dispute when he wrote Robert R. Livingston on 25 Mar., indicating that he needed money “that I may pay a Debt Incurd to Dr Vashe who I am now endeavouring to Breake for disobedience of Orders and Insolent behavior he has duned me for the Money Since his arrest which makes me the more anxious the whole is seven Gineaus and a Half hard Cash” (NHi: Robert R. Livingston Papers).

2Jarvis Bloomfield enlisted as a private in the 3d New Jersey Regiment in early 1777 and was commissioned an ensign in May of that year. His promotion to lieutenant, to date from 1 Nov. 1777, apparently was received in May 1778. Bloomfield resigned in late 1780.

3Robert Kirk (d. 1828) was appointed an ensign of Col. William Grayson’s Additional Continental Regiment in July 1777. Kirk, who was promoted to second lieutenant on 19 April 1778, remained with the regiment, merged with Col. Nathaniel Gist’s Additional Continental Regiment in April 1779, until he retired in January 1781. The officer of the day on 27 March was either Maj. Richard Taylor of the 13th Virginia Regiment or Maj. Francis Taylor of the 15th Virginia Regiment.

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