George Washington Papers

General Orders, 28 May 1778

General Orders

Head-Quarters V. Forge Thursday May 28th 1778.

Parole Germany—C. Signs Ganges. Groton—

Commanding Officers of Brigades in pursuance of former orders to hold themselves in readiness to march,1 are to apply immediately to the Quarter Master General for a sufficient number of Waggons to transport their Baggage and are to have their respective Brigades supplied as completely as possible with Camp Utensils and Necessaries of every kind requisite towards taking the Field—The Commissary will have a quantity of hard bread and salt meat prepared to issue to the Army when call’d for. As we may expect every moment to march the Army is to be prepared in all respects for that purpose—Guards of every kind are constantly to hold themselves in a collected State with their Accoutrements on and ready to act at a moments warning. The General therefore forbids all Exercises & diversions particularly such as cause them to disperse & put off their Accoutrements which is equally inconsistent with their Security and with good discipline.

A board of General Officers are desired to sit tomorrow morning ten ôClock at General Lee’s quarters to examine into Lieutt Coll Regnier’s Claim of rank in the New-York Line & report their opinions thereon—The other Lieutt Colonels of that line present are desired to attend—The Commander in Chief will lay before the board the Memorial presented by Lieutt Coll Regnier, with some other Papers.2

A Court of Enquiry to sit tomorrow to examine into the Conduct of Lieutt Coll Park reported to have been absent from Camp without leave, and to have been negligent in his duty. All Persons concern’d will attend—Colonel Johnson is appointed President Colonel Parker—Lieutt Colonels Bonner and Starr and Major Fenner will attend as Members at the Presidents quarters, 9 oClock tomorrow morning.3

Returns from the several Brigades of such Cloathing and Necessaries as are actually wanting to be made next saturday at Orderly time.

At a Brigade Court Martial May 25th 1778—Colonel Bowman President, Adjutant Bowyer of 12th Virginia Regiment tried for furnishing two soldiers with the Countersign to go into the Country to buy Provisions, found guilty of a breach of the 15th Article, 13th section of the Articles of War & sentenced to be dismissed the service.

The Commander in Chief approves the sentence, but in Consideration of Mr Bowyer’s good Character as an Officer, notwithstanding so material a breach of the rules of Discipline as he is chargable with in the present instance, is induced to restore him to his Office.4

Varick transcript, DLC:GW.

2Lt. Col. Pierre Regnier de Roussi of the 4th New York Regiment wrote GW from Valley Forge on this date: “having been assured Yesterday morning, by Colonel Harrisson, in answer to my having applyed to you, for a Board of Officers, to settle the Ranks, of the Lieutenant Colonels of the New York Line; That, Your Excellency, was kind enough, to grant me, my Demand. Provided. I Should state in writing a Memorandum of the Rights I had for that Request &c. which Rights (if I have any) are, hereafter humbly Submited, to your Candid Examination.

“having been Appointed (by Genl Arnold) a Lieut. Colonel, to a Regiment of Canadians; Raised in Canada for the service of the United states the 12th of January 1776 and having Continued in the Said, till December 20th of the same Year when it pleased, Major Genl Schuyler, to Disband it, in Albany.

“The Disbanding of the above Regt whom I commanded, and my not beeng reimplaced, upon the New Establishment in any other was a Reason, for which I applyed to the Honoble Congress for a Brevet Instead, of a Warrant, I had Served under, all the Campaign, for a more Secure Confirmation of the Rank, I had held, in Case I Should be reapointed, in the Army, in the Same Capacity The Congress, on my application for the above by presenting them, with the warrant I had served under, together with a Certificat, from the Genl Commanding in the Nothern Department Accorded me a Resolve, dated, february 25th 1777—which Resolve gives me Rank, from the Date of my Warrant. and I thought, that in case, the Reference to your Excellency for future Employmt Should take place, that, a Resolve of Congress would be as good as a Commission to Rank, in the Army. So; the authenticity, of it has not been Denied to me in any Duty. by all the Lieutenant Colonels of the Army, but; those of the New York Line. which three upon four of them, are ten Months Later, in their appointment, of Lieut. Colonels, than myself. and, all of them, were (but one) Captains in canada—when I was Lt Col. we then, served together in the same, Army, under the same Genl and for the same cause too. Why then; Should I Submit—to be Commanded by them. for having been the Campaign before, their Commander? am I, likewise (because I am not born in York province, and though—adopted in one of their Regts too.) to have no Rights of Promotion, and to all purposes, like a Bastard who has never any Rights in his father’s state &c. If this is the Case, no stranger Should serve in this army, nor any one from one province to another, without being Excluded from the Rights of Natives.

“Perhaps Your Excellency will observe, that having Seen myself wronged, by the Committee of Arrangement of the N. York State, why did I accept the Commission? I accepted it, it is true, but; it was Conditionnally, and before the arrangement was made. for; as soon as I received the Arrangement from the Committee I wrote immediatly to Mr Robert Yates, who was the Chairman, to have it altered. But; unhapily, the Committee was Disolved—and the whole redress I could get from that part was one ‘I am sorry (sayd he) that we did not know Your Rank, for if we had, we would have done you Justice, But I think Congress Shall settle it, through the whole Army. therefore those mistakes, Shall be redressed &c.’

“This is, if I remember well, the Substance I received, from the Chairman of the Committee of arrangement of the N. York State, and about a month after I had wrote my Letter.

“And the same Day, I Received the above Letter A Genl Order from Your Excellency, together, with a Resolve of Congress—arrived at peeks Kill to Major Genl Putnam, Recommanding, that the Ranks under those, of Field Officers, Should be immediatly, arranged by those last. Regimentally and that Arrangement to be refered afterwards to a Board of General Officers, for approbation, redress Complaints, if any &c.

“So; that I thought, those Ranks of the Field officers, Should Likewise come to their turn, to be settled. But; I was Deceived for; when I was under that expectation. Orders came for the Regt to March—and we had since that, nor, time, nor leasure to do it, Only Since we are in your Excellency’s Army” (DLC:GW). See also Regnier de Roussi to GW, 24 Mar., and GW to a Board of General Officers, 29 May.

3Rudolph Bunner (d. 1778) was appointed a captain in the 2d Pennsylvania Regiment in January 1776 and transferred to the 3d Pennsylvania Regiment in March of the following year. He was promoted to major a short time later, became a lieutenant colonel in August 1777, and was killed at the Battle of Monmouth on 28 June 1778. Josiah Starr (1740–1813) of New Milford, Conn., served from May to December 1775 as a captain in the 4th Connecticut Regiment and from July to November 1776 as a lieutenant colonel in Col. Heman Swift’s Connecticut State Regiment. He was appointed lieutenant colonel of the 7th Connecticut Regiment in January 1777 and became a colonel of the 1st Connecticut Regiment in about May 1778. He left the army in January 1781. William Fenner became a first lieutenant in the 2d North Carolina Regiment in September 1775 and was promoted to captain in May 1776. He was appointed a major in the 7th North Carolina Regiment in October 1777 and left the army in June 1778. For more on the inquiry into Lt. Col. John Parke’s conduct, see GW to Parke, 11 April, and note 1 to that document.

4Henry Bowyer (1760–1832) was appointed a second lieutenant in the 12th Virginia Regiment in September 1777 and became regimental adjutant in January 1778, remaining in that position after his regiment became the 8th Virginia Regiment in September 1778. He became a lieutenant in the 1st Continental Dragoons in February 1781 and served until the end of the war. Section 13, article 15 of the articles of war stipulates that “Any person, belonging to the forces of the United States, who shall make known the watch-word to any person who is not entitled to receive it according to the rules and discipline of war, or shall presume to give a parole or watch-word different from what he received, shall suffer death, or such other punishment as shall be ordered by the sentence of a general court-martial” (JCC description begins Worthington Chauncey Ford et al., eds. Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774-1789. 34 vols. Washington, D.C., 1904–37. description ends , 5:799).

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