George Washington Papers

General Orders, 15 September 1778

General Orders

Head-Quarters W. Plains Tuesday Septr 15th 1778.

Parole Dunkirk–C. Signs Dresden. Danbury–

After Orders September 15th 1778.

1st—The whole Army will march tomorrow morning at seven ôClock1—The General will beat at five the troop at six and the march at seven precisely.

2nd The baggage will precede the troops the first day Provision and Forage Waggons going in front. 3rd The Park of Artillery will march with the second Line between Parsons’s and Clinton’s Brigades.2

4th The Commander in Chief’s baggage with the Baggage of all the General, Staff3 and Flying Hospital are also to march with the second line in the order which will be particularly pointed out by the Quarter Master General.4

5th The Quarter Master and Commissary General will divide the Stores in their respective departments to the several Columns which will lead the Columns of Baggage.

6th Coll Sheldon with all the Cavalry on the East-Side of the North-River will join General Scott.5

7th—The Quarter Master General will give the particular Order of march to be observed by each Division.

8th The Troops are to be furnish’d with three days bread.

Camp White Plains 15th Septr 1778.

The board of General Officers assembled by order of His Excellency the Commander in Chief to settle the relative rank of the Field Officers of Artillery,6 met this day & being of opinion that the rules of settling rank as published in General Orders of the 9th instant (with the Approbation of the honorable Committee of Congress for arranging the Army) are fully competent to determine the relative rank of the said Officers of Artillery—The board thereupon agreed that the Field Officers of that Corps at present on the ground ought to take rank in the following manner in the Line of Artillery with respect to each other but that this Arrangement does not prevent them from such other Rank as they are intitled to in the Line of the Army, nor with respect to such Officers of their own Corps as are absent whose Pretensions are unknown to the board.

1st Coll—John Lamb 2nd Lt Coll Oswald
2nd—Harrison 3rd Popkins
1st Lieut. Coll Carrington7 4th Stevens

The board are also of Opinion that the Regiments of Artillery ought to rank in the following manner.

1st Regiment Cranes.
2nd Proctor’s
3rd Harrison’s
4th Lamb’s.8

The General Court Martial whereof Coll Humpton is President will assemble near Croten Bridge tomorrow twelve ôClock at such house as the President shall appoint. All Evidences and Persons concerned are ordered to attend.

Varick transcript, DLC:GW.

A note at the end of this day’s general orders reads: “The Army marching by Divisions to Frederick’sburgh &c.” General orders were not issued again until 23 Sept., by which time GW had established his headquarters near Fredericksburg (now Patterson), N.Y., about forty miles north of White Plains.

GW’s assistant secretary James McHenry wrote Paymaster Gen. William Palfrey on this date: “To-morrow morning the army is to move from this ground. His Excellency’s [GW’s] Quarters will be at or near Fredericksburg—You will be pleased to inform Major Clarke of this, that you both may take measures accordingly” (ALS [photostat], NN: Miscellaneous Papers). John Clark, Jr., was an army auditor.

Between 16 and 25 Sept. GW moved most of his army to several new positions thirty-five to forty-five miles north of White Plains, including Fredericksburg, Fishkill Plains, West Point, and Danbury. The “second line” under the command of Major General Stirling, consisting of five brigades, and the artillery park commanded by Brig. Gen. Henry Knox marched together from White Plains to Fredericksburg (see GW to Stirling, 15 Sept.). Maj. Gen. Johann Kalb’s division, which consisted of two brigades, marched from White Plains to Fredericksburg by a different route and then proceeded to a position near Fishkill Plains about fifteen miles northwest of Fredericksburg (see GW to Kalb, 15, 22 Sept., and GW to Henry Laurens, 23 Sept.). Maj. Gen. Israel Putnam’s division, which consisted of three brigades, marched from White Plains to the vicinity of West Point (see GW to Putnam, 15, 19 Sept., and GW to Henry Laurens, 23 Sept.). Major General Gates’s division, consisting of three brigades, marched from its current station at Bedford, N.Y., to Danbury and was joined there by Maj. Gen. Alexander McDougall’s division, consisting of two brigades, which marched from White Plains (see GW to Gates and to McDougall, both 15 Sept., and Gates to GW, 21 Sept.). The light infantry and the cavalry, under the command of Brig. Gen. Charles Scott, eventually moved a few miles north of White Plains to North Castle, N.Y., with orders to patrol near the British lines and gather intelligence (see GW to Scott, 15, 22 Sept., and Scott to GW, 21 Sept. and 26 Sept. [first letter]). For the logistical arrangements involved in this repositioning of the army, see GW to Udny Hay, 15 September.

Unable to determine with certainty what future military strategy the British intended to pursue in America, GW redeployed his army in this manner to cover three eventualities to which he could reasonably be expected to respond if they occurred: a direct British attack on his army, a British incursion up the Hudson River into the strategically important highlands, and a British naval expedition against the equally important French fleet commanded by Vice Admiral d’Estaing at Boston (GW to Nathanael Greene, 22 Sept.; see also GW to John Sullivan, 19 Sept.; to Henry Laurens, 23 Sept.; to Richard Henry Lee, 23 Sept.; to John Augustine Washington, 23 Sept.; and to Lafayette, 25 Sept.; and Council of War, 29 Sept.).

Brig. Gen. Henry Knox expressed his views about the army’s redeployment in a letter that he wrote to his brother William Knox on 28 Sept. from Fredericksburg: “We have mov’d up to this place not from fear of the Enemy but to be arm’d at all points—The possession of Count D Estaings fleet is a possible object and in the opinion of some Gentlemen who are wiser than I am a pro[b]able one—It is absolutely necessary to guard the passages on the [Hudson] River to secure our existence if the Enemy move Eastward. these are two reasons which induced us to move—and a third was the want of For<age> our Horses was emaciated <illegible> we went Where there was plenty to recruit them” (NNGL: Knox Papers).

GW traveled to Fredericksburg by way of West Point and Fishkill (see GW to Gates and to Stirling, both 15 Sept.). His guard, which marched from White Plains on 16 Sept., took a more easterly route to Fredericksburg, going through North Castle, N.Y., and Bedford, N.Y. (see Elijah Fisher’s diary in Godfrey, Commander-in-Chief’s Guard description begins Carlos E. Godfrey. The Commander-in-Chief’s Guard: Revolutionary War. Washington, D.C., 1904. description ends , 282). GW and his staff left White Plains on 16 or 17 Sept. (see Harrison to William Maxwell, 17 Sept., in Maxwell to GW, 19 Sept., n.1). GW arrived at West Point on 18 Sept. (see Baldwin, Revolutionary Journal description begins Thomas Williams Baldwin, ed. The Revolutionary Journal of Col. Jeduthan Baldwin, 1775–1778. 1906. Reprint. New York, 1971. description ends , 135). He proceeded to Fishkill on the following day, and he arrived at Fredericksburg or its vicinity by 20 Sept. (see GW’s several letters of 19 Sept., and GW to John Sullivan, 20 Sept.; the trip expenses, which are not individually dated, are in Tench Tilghman’s account of 21 Nov. 1778 in Revolutionary War Accounts, Vouchers, and Receipted Accounts, 1776–1780, DLC:GW, ser. 5). GW established his headquarters about four miles north of Fredericksburg in the village of Pawling, N.Y., where, except for a couple of trips to Fishkill, he lodged until 28 Nov. (see GW to Johann Kalb, 22 Sept., and note 1 to that document; George Clinton to GW, 24 Sept., source note; Robert Hanson Harrison to Alexander McDougall, 4 Oct., in GW to the President of the Maryland Senate and the Speaker of the Maryland House of Delegates, 5 Oct., source note; and GW to Charles Scott, 8 Oct.). For GW’s concern that Fredericksburg was not as well located for his purposes as he had been led to believe, see Alexander Hamilton’s letter to Stirling of 20 Sept., in the source note to Charles Scott to GW, 20 September.

1Maj. Gen. Benjamin Lincoln’s orderly book includes the words “by the left” at this place in the general orders for this date (orderly book, 22 July–25 Sept. 1778, MHi: Lincoln Papers; see also Richard Platt’s orderly book, 22 July–31 Oct. 1778, NHi, and Ranald S. McDougall’s orderly book, 15 Aug.–7 Nov. 1778, NHi).

2The second line, which was commanded on the march by Major General Stirling, consisted of the brigades commanded by brigadier generals Samuel Holden Parsons, James Clinton, Jedediah Huntington, and Anthony Wayne, and the 2d Pennsylvania Brigade.

3Maj. Gen. Benjamin Lincoln’s orderly book reads: “General Staff” (orderly book, 22 July–25 Sept. 1778, MHi: Lincoln Papers; see also Richard Platt’s orderly book, 22 July–31 Oct. 1778, NHi, and Ranald S. McDougall’s orderly book, 15 Aug.–7 Nov. 1778, NHi).

7Edward Carrington (1749–1810) of Cumberland County, Va., began his military service in December 1775 as captain of one of his county’s minuteman companies. Appointed second lieutenant of the Virginia artillery company in February 1776, Carrington served as its acting captain from July to November 1776, when Congress commissioned him lieutenant colonel of Col. Charles Harrison’s 1st Continental Artillery Regiment, a position that he held until June 1783. In the spring of 1780 Carrington commanded the regiment on its march south to reinforce the Continental army in the Carolinas, but he remained in Virginia to establish a munitions laboratory there and to forward military supplies of all sorts. When Maj. Gen. Nathanael Greene took command of the southern army at Charlotte, N.C., in December 1780, one of his first acts was to appoint Carrington as the army’s deputy quartermaster general. Acting with energy and resourcefulness, Carrington distinguished himself in that role over the next two-and-a-half years. He retained his artillery commission, however, and he apparently served briefly as an artillery officer at the siege of Yorktown in the fall of 1781. Carrington was a member of the Continental Congress from 1785 to 1788. GW appointed him U.S. marshal for Virginia in 1789 and supervisor of the revenue for the state in 1791.

8The original signed report of this board’s proceedings regarding the artillery field officers is in DLC:GW, as is also a copy in Robert Hanson Harrison’s writing that was taken from the general orders. The general officers who signed the original report are: Israel Putnam, Stirling, Benjamin Lincoln, Johann Kalb, Alexander McDougall, Steuben, John Nixon, James Clinton, Anthony Wayne, William Woodford, Peter Muhlenberg, and Jedediah Huntington. Tench Tilghman later wrote on the original report: “This arrangement of the relative Rank of the Regiments has been altered by a subsequent Board of General officers held at West Point Augt 8th 1779.” It may be for that reason that the part concerning that subject was omitted from the copy of the report in DNA:PCC, item 152, that GW apparently enclosed in his letter to the Board of War of 26 Oct. 1779. For the report on the rank of the captains in Col. John Lamb’s artillery regiment that this board of general officers also submitted to GW on this date, see a Board of General Officers to GW, 1 Sept., source note.

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