George Washington Papers

General Orders, 15 April 1778

General Orders

Head-Quarters V. Forge Wednesday April 15th 78.

Parole: Eastham—Countersigns: Essex. Eden.

The men who are draughted for the Commander in Chief’s Guard are to be included in the Pay-Abstracts of the Regiments ’till the first of April after which they will draw pay as a distinct Corps, altho’ return’d on command in their respective Regiments.

At a General Court Martial whereof Coll Craige was Presidt April 14th 1778—Lieutt Ritter of Coll Proctor’s Regt tried for ungentlemanlike behavior & for going into the City of Philadelphia since the Enemy have taken Possession of it, acquitted of the Charge of ungentlemanlike behavior but found guilty of going into Philadelphia since the Enemy have taken possession of it, being a breach of Article 5th Section 18th of the Articles of War, but on account of circumstances do only sentence him to be reprimanded in Brigade orders.1

The Commander in Chief approves the sentence and orders it to take place.

At the same Court John Foster of Coll Malcom’s Regiment tried for deserting to the Enemy, plead guilty and in consideration of his youth, only sentenced to receive one hundred lashes on his bare back.2

The Commander in Chief approves the sentence and orders it to be put in execution tomorrow morning at the head of the Regiment to which he belongs.

Varick transcript, DLC:GW.

1William Ritter (b. 1750) was appointed a second lieutenant in the German Battalion on 12 July 1776 and promoted to a first lieutenant of the 4th Continental Artillery Regiment in 1 April 1777. He resigned 11 Mar. 1779. Ritter was reprimanded in brigade orders of 19 April, which recited GW’s approval of the court-martial verdict and continued, “Genl Knox, therefore, would wish Lieut. Ritter to consider well the bad tendency of his conduct in that instance; both, as it is a violation of that necessary discipline, without which an Army cannot exist, and which no circumstances of a private nature can justify, and, at the same time, may be attended with fatal consequences, should the person going in so unwarrantable a manner, be discovered by the Enemy” (DNA: RG 93, Orderly Books, 1775–1783, vol. 19).

2John Foster (b. c.1760) enlisted for the war in April 1777 and served as a fifer and private in Col. William Malcom’s Additional Continental Regiment. When Col. Oliver Spencer’s Additional Continental Regiment absorbed portions of Malcom’s regiment in April 1779, Foster was transferred to that regiment, and he transferred to the 11th Pennsylvania Regiment in March 1780.

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