George Washington Papers

General Orders, 14 September 1778

General Orders

Head-Quarters W. Plains Monday Septr 14th 1778.

Parole St Augustine—C. Signs Salem. Sandown.

The Consumption of Ammunition in this Army considering there has been no Action nor any extraordinary weather to injure Cartridges in good tents, has for the two last Months been beyond description; but this is not to be wondered at when the Camp is continually disturbed both within it’s own limits and Vicinity by a disorderly firing—So many orders have been given to correct this Abuse, and induce the Exertions of the Officers to prevent it, punish delinquents and make their men attentive to preserving their Ammunition, that it gives the General real Pain to be compell’d to a further Repetition; but finding himself hitherto disappointed he positively requires that Officers Commanding Companies will in future keep an exact account of the Cartridges delivered their men, charging six pence for every Cartridge which cannot be satisfactorily accounted for besides administring Corporal Punishment for neglect and disobedience. This order is to be regularly read to the men once a Week in Presence of a Commissioned Officer to obviate every Plea of Ignorance.

At a General Court Martial in Maxwell’s Brigade Septr 4th 1778—Coll Shreve President, Captn Mitchel of the 4th New Jersey Regiment was tried for willfully disobeying positive, Express written Orders on the night of the first of September. The Court are unanimously of opinion the Charge is not supported, but that he behaved like a careful, vigilant, active Officer and do therefore acquit him with honor.

At the same Court Septr 5th Capt. Burroughs of late Forman’s Regiment was tried for disobeying positive written General Orders on the night of the 2nd of September and persisting in the same: The Court likewise acquit him of the Charges with honor.

His Excellency the Commander in Chief confirms the Opinion of the Court.

At a General Court-Martial in Nixon’s Brigade September the 12th—1778—Lieutt Coll Loring President Captn Daniels of Coll Nixon’s Regiment was tried for Inattention to his duty while under Arms1—The Court are of opinion that the Charge is not supported and that he be acquitted with honor. The Commander in Chief confirms the Opinion of the Court.

After orders September 14th 1778.

At a General Court Martial held in the Highlands January the 13th 1778—by order of Major Genl Putnam whereof Coll Henry Sherburne was President—Matthias Colbhart of Rye in the State of New-York was tried for holding a Correspondence with the Enemy of the United States, living as a Spy among the Continental Troops and inlisting and persuading them to desert to the British Army, found guilty of the whole Charge alledg’d against him and in particular of a breach of the 19th Article of the 13th section of the Articles of War2 and therefore sentenced to be punished with Death—by hanging him by the Neck until he is dead.

Which Sentence was approved of by Major General Putnam. His Excellency the Commander in Chief orders him to be executed tomorrow morning nine ô Clock on Gallows Hill.

Varick transcript, DLC:GW.

On this date, GW, acting with the committee of arrangement (John Banister and Roger Sherman), signed a document commending the services of brevet Lt. Col. Ebenezer Stevens and recommending “his appointment to hold effectually a Lieutenant Colonels Commission in the Artillery with the Pay of that office from the date of his Brevet Commission, and that he be entitled to the first vacancy that may fall in the Line.” The recommendation was needed because the decision “to incorporate the three independant Companies into an incomplete Battalion of Artillery” had deprived Stevens “of a Command to which he was much attached” (DNA:PCC, item 59). Congress included that recommendation in its resolutions of 24 Nov. 1778 on the army arrangement ( 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 , 12:1158).

1Jotham Loring (c.1740–1820) of Hingham, Mass., who served as a captain in the Lexington Alarm, was commissioned in May 1775 as a captain in William Heath’s Regiment of Massachusetts state troops. He remained with the unit through various consolidations and redesignations, becoming major of the 24th Continental Infantry in January 1776 and lieutenant colonel in November 1776. He was court-martialed and dismissed from what was then the 3d Massachusetts Regiment in August 1779. Japhet Daniels (1738–1805) was commissioned a lieutenant in Col. Joseph Read’s Regiment of Massachusetts state troops in May 1775 and remained with the unit (redesignated the 13th Continental Regiment) until January 1777, when he became a captain of the 6th Massachusetts Regiment. He served until June 1783.

2This article authorized a death penalty for those “convicted of holding correspondence with, or giving intelligence to the enemy, either directly or indirectly” ( 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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