George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Henry Laurens, 13 August 1778

From Henry Laurens

[Philadelphia] 13th August [1778]


Since my last of the 30th July I have had the honor of presenting to Congress Your Excellency’s several favors of the 3d, 4th and 7th Inst.1

The transcript from the journal of Congress dated the 10th Inst. and here inclosed will shew Your Excellency how those of the 3d and 4th were dispos’d of.2

I likewise inclose with this, an Act of Congress dated the 10th, and three dated the 12th Inst. together with the declaration of the last mention’d date.

  • 1. for adding two Members to the Committee of Arrangement3
  • 2. for permitting Colonel Knobeloch to act as a Volunteer in the Army, and for allowing him 125 Dollars per Month4
  • 3. for allowing a compensation for horses kill’d in battle5
  • 4. a Declaration That Congress hold it incompatible with their honor in any manner to correspond or have intercourse with George Johnstone Esquire one of the British Commissioners6
  • 5. An Act of Congress of the 12th for sending the said Declaration to the Commissioners by a Flag.7

Congress request Your Excellency will give directions for carrying this immediately into execution.

Yesterday I presented to Congress a letter from Mr Ferguson, Secretary to the Commissioners of the 7th Inst. and the Paper referred to in that letter. Copies of these I take the liberty of transmitting herewith, merely for your Excellency’s information.8 I have the honor to be With the highest Esteem and Regard.

LB, DNA:PCC, item 13. A note on the letter-book copy indicates that this was sent “by a Messenger from Monsr Gerard.”

1Although Laurens had written to GW on 31 July, he is evidently referring to his letter of 30 July as his last official letter. Laurens is also referring to GW’s letter of 3–4 Aug. and two letters of 7 Aug.; there is no indication that GW wrote any separate letter of 4 Aug. to Laurens.

2The enclosed transcript has not been identified. Congress referred GW’s comments on the artillery and the enlistment of drafts to the Board of War and his comments on the clothier general’s office to a committee of Samuel Adams, Roger Sherman, and Nathaniel Scudder. They also resolved “That a commander of the horse be appointed to morrow” ( 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 , 11:767–68).

3For this resolution of 10 Aug., adding Roger Sherman and John Banister to the committee, see ibid., 11:769.

4The extract from the minutes on this subject in DLC:GW differs somewhat from what appears ibid., 11:778–79, but the resolutions in the two sources are the same. According to his letter to Congress of 27 July 1778, the baron de Knobelauch was “a Nobleman of an ancient Family in the Electorate of Brandenbourg” and a veteran of the Seven Years’ War who had thirty years of service in the Prussian, Russian, and Danish armies (DNA:PCC, item 78). On 24 Aug. 1777 Benjamin Franklin had written a letter for Knobelauch to deliver to GW, stating that he “is recommended to me as an Officer of much Experience, and capable of rendring good Service in our Armies if employ’d” (DLC:GW; see also Franklin Papers description begins William B. Willcox et al., eds. The Papers of Benjamin Franklin. 40 vols. to date. New Haven, 1959–. description ends , 24:459). Knobelauch apparently served as a volunteer until December 1778 and remained in the United States until June 1780 without obtaining employment that he found satisfactory (see Knobelauch to Congress, 5 June 1780, DNA:PCC, item 78).

5For this resolution of 12 Aug., see General Orders, 19 Aug. (see also 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 , 11:777–78).

6The declaration passed on 11 Aug. quoted Johnstone’s letter of 11 April to Joseph Reed, stating that “The man who can be instrumental in bringing us all to act once more in harmony … will deserve more from the king and the people … than ever was yet bestowed on human kind,” and Johnstone’s letter of 16 June to Robert Morris, suggesting “that honor and emolument should naturally follow the fortune of those who have steered the vessel in the storm and brought her safely to port. I think Washington and the president have a right to every favor that grateful nations can bestow, if they could once more unite our interest and spare the miseries and devastations of war.” Congress claimed that the letters, in conjunction with a late June conversation in which “a married lady of character” told Reed that Johnstone was prepared to offer him “£10,000 sterling, and any office in the colonies … in his majesty’s gift” if he would “promote … a re-union between the two countries,” must “be considered as direct attempts to corrupt and bribe the Congress.” The resolution of nonintercourse with Johnstone expressed “the highest and most pointed indignation against such daring and atrocious attempts to corrupt their integrity” (ibid., 11:770–75).

7For this resolution, see ibid., 11:776.

8The enclosed copies have not been identified; for Adam Ferguson’s letter to Laurens of 7 Aug. and the remonstrance of the British commissioners of the same date, see DNA:PCC, item 57 (see also Laurens Papers description begins Philip M. Hamer et al., eds. The Papers of Henry Laurens. 16 vols. Columbia, S.C., 1968–2003. description ends , 14:139–40). The remonstrance protested the “unjust Detention” of the troops of Gen. John Burgoyne’s army who had surrendered at Saratoga.

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