George Washington Papers

General Orders, 11–12 August 1778

General Orders

Head-Quarters W. Plains Tuesday Augt 11th[-12] 78.

Parole New-Windsor—C. Signs Orange. Peru.

A sufficient number of Officers having not yet presented themselves as Candidates for Commissions in the Companies of Sappers and Miners—The General requests all those who may be disposed to enter into this service immediately to give in their names and wait upon General Du Portail as he is desirous of having the Companies established without delay—This being a species of service well worthy the Ambition of Gentlemen of Zeal and Talents who wish to advance themselves in military knowledge and Distinction and being held in the highest Estimation in every Army—it will be expected as heretofore that those who apply should be well recommended for their good Character and liberal qualifications.

The Field Officers in the Maryland Line are desired to assemble and either collectively or by a Committee state the Pretensions of Rank claimed by the Officers of that Line; together with the reasons or grounds upon which those Pretensions are founded and report as soon as may be.

The Issuing Commissaries are carefully to preserve the Provision Barrels or Casks after the Meat or Flour is taken out of them ’till the Coopers have repaired them, when they are to be returned to the Commissary General of Issues.

At a General Court Martial whereof Coll David Hall was President August [4]th1 1778—Captn Seely of the 5th Pennsylvania Regiment tried for leaving his guard before he was regularly relieved found guilty of the Charge exhibited against him, being a breach of the 4th Article, 12 Section of the Articles of War and sentenced to be reprimanded in General Orders.2

The Commander in Chief confirms the sentence tho’ he could wish a severer punishment had been decreed to an offence which is of the highest military Criminality and of the most dangerous tendency; the safety of the Army altogether depending on the strict discipline & unremiting Vigilance observed by Officers on Guard particularly at the out Posts.

At the same Court Neil Megonigle a soldier in the 7th Pennsylvania Regiment tried first, for threatning Captain Scott’s Life, 2ndly drawing his Bayonet and stabbing him repeatedly while in the Execution of his Office, found guilty of the Charges exhibited against him, being breaches of the 5th Article 2nd section of the Articles of War and sentenced by a Majority of more than two thirds to be shot to Death.3

His Excellency the Commander in Chief confirms the sentence.

Wednesday Morn Augt 12th 1778.

The Light Troops are to be paraded this afternoon at two ôClock on Chatterton’s Hill—A number of Tents and Camp Kettles proportionate to the number of men from each Regiment are to be sent with them.

The Brigade Quarter Masters will see that those tents are brought on the ground in Waggons at the time fixed.

The Commissary General of Issues will immediately appoint an issuing Commissary to the Light Corps.

Varick transcript, DLC:GW.

1The transcriber wrote “14th,” but the correct date of 4 Aug. appears in other orderly books ( N.C. State Records description begins Walter Clark, ed. The State Records of North Carolina. 16 vols., numbered 11-26. Winston and Goldsboro, N.C., 1895–1907. description ends , 12:532).

2The general orders should have cited article 4 of section 13 for this offense ( 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 , 5:797).

3Neal McGonagle had enlisted as a private in the 6th Pennsylvania Regiment in 1776 and remained with the regiment after its redesignation as the 7th Pennsylvania Regiment in January 1777. Pardoned for this offense, he was again in trouble in May 1779, when he was found guilty of being absent without leave (General Orders, 14 May 1779). Captain Scott was most likely Joseph Scott of the 1st Virginia Regiment. The cited article prescribes death or other punishment for any officer or soldier who shall “offer any violence” against a superior officer ( 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 , 5:790).

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