George Washington Papers

From George Washington to the Commanding Officer at West Point, 21 July 1778

To the Commanding Officer at West Point

Head Qrs [White Plains] July 21: 1778


Captain Clark will deliver you this,1 with Eight persons (two with families) who have been sent from Bennington under sentence of banishment into the Enemys lines. There names are at the Bottom.2 As I have received a Letter from Governor Clinton, with a Copy of a petition from the prisoners and of a Letter from the Committee of Albany, all remonstrating against the proceedings had against these Men;3 and as I am determined not to involve myself in any dispute about matters, with which I have nothing to do, I have resolved to lay the affair before Congress by the first opportunity, that they may determine upon it, as they shall think proper. In the mean time, you will take charge of the prisoners and supply them with provisions; allowing them such indulgencies as may be reasonable. I do not wish or mean that their confinement should be close or rigorous—Yet they must not be suffered to escape. I am Sir Yr Most Hble sert

Go: Washington

Df, in Robert Hanson Harrison’s writing, DLC:GW; Varick transcript, DLC:GW.

1Capt. Isaac Clark (c.1748–1822) was assigned to guard the prisoners when they were brought downriver from Albany (see Ethan Allen to Horatio Gates, 15 July, in Duffy, Ethan Allen and His Kin description begins John J. Duffy et al., eds. Ethan Allen and His Kin: Correspondence, 1772–1819. 2 vols. Hanover, N.H., 1998. description ends , 1:83–84; Goodrich, Rolls of Soldiers description begins John E. Goodrich, ed. The State of Vermont: Rolls of the Soldiers in the Revolutionary War, 1775 to 1783. Rutland, Vt., 1904. description ends , 797). Clark, who served in 1777 as a lieutenant in Col. Samuel Herrick’s Regiment of Rangers, was promoted to major in January 1781 and to lieutenant colonel by 1782. He subsequently served as a state legislator, as a county judge, and from 1812 to 1815 as a colonel in the U.S. infantry.

2The list of “prisoners names” at the bottom of the page reads: “John Phillips—with a family[,] Saml Phillips[,] Oliver Colvin[,] Wm Jones—with a family[,] Stephen Fairfield[,] Burges Hall[,] Timothy Bull.” The eighth prisoner was apparently John Phillips, Jr.

3See George Clinton to GW, 20 July, and note 1 to that document.

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