George Washington Papers

From George Washington to Colonel William Malcom, 4 August 1778

To Colonel William Malcom

Head Quarters White plains 4 Augt 1778


I recd yours of the 30th with the Returns of the Garrison, I should have answered you by the same person who brought it, but he did not call upon me.

It is not in my power at present to add to the Strength of the Garrison, the detatchment to Rhode Island having taken every Man that can be possibly spared from this Army.

I think you will do well to send down the Brass 12 pounder to this park.

If Mr Laurence’s service as a deputy Adjutant General is indispensably necessary, you may take him into employ as such, but I should have thought that your Brigade Major with the assistance of the Regimental Adjutants might have done the duty.1 Rations have varied at different times according to the scarcity or plenty of Meat and Flour. The Ration at present delivered out by you is much the same as the Commissary General proposes at this time, and therefore you may continue it. In future direct your Commy of Issues to take his orders from the Commy General of Issues.

It falls into the Qr Master Generals department to see that the Artificers are properly employed, and therefore if you think those upon the North River are idling away their time, you should apply to Colo. Hay, who will order them to repair to West point or any other place where they are wanted.

I cannot approve of the sentence of the Court against Springsteel, because the Court Martial w⟨as⟩ illegally constituted as being held without my order. But that he, or capital Offenders may be brought to justice in due form in future, I inclose you a power to hold General Courts Martial when necessary.2

Yours of the 1st instant inclosing the weekly return ⟨has⟩ been received.3 I am Sir Yr &c.

Df, in Tench Tilghman’s writing, DLC:GW; Varick transcript, DLC:GW.

1Malcom’s general orders of 7 Aug. announced: “His Excellency General Washington hath appointed Lieut. Jonathan Lawrence to do Duty as Assistant adjutant General in this Garrison” (Aaron Burr’s orderly book, NHi).

2The enclosure has not been identified, but on 10 Aug., Malcom dissolved his garrison court-martial and formed a new one “by Virtue of authority from his Excellency the Commander in Chief.” Christopher Springsteel, who had enlisted in Malcom’s regiment in March 1777 and deserted in September of that year, was captured and confined at Goshen in February 1778. He broke jail in April but was recaptured by July and confined at Fort Arnold. According to Malcom’s general orders of 18 Aug., Springsteel was retried and sentenced to receive “one Hundred Lashes and be sent on board the Galleys during the war.” GW confirmed the lashes but ruled that he should “be kept at hard Labour in the Garrison instead of Gowing on board the fleet” (Aaron Burr’s orderly book, NHi). Apparently returned to normal service in October 1778, Springsteel deserted again in May 1779.

3This letter has not been found.

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