George Washington Papers

To George Washington from George Clinton, 19 September 1778

From George Clinton

Poughkeepsie [N.Y.] Septr l9th 1778

Dear Sir.

By the last Flagg which arrived from New York I received Certifi cates from the Commissary Genl of Prisoners there, with Proposals for exchanging Stephen Lush (late my Brigade Major & taken at Fort Montgomerie<)> for Henry Cuyler—Cornelius Van Tessel for Alexander White and James Dole for Abraham Maybie.1 As I conceive the exchanges advantageous I mean to agree to the Proposals, and to direct the Persons, who are all confined in Albany, together with a few more Exiles, to be sent down to Fishkill & there wait ’till further Orders. I am therefore again under the Necessity of requesting your Excellency, if you shall deem it expedient, to appoint an Officer to conduct them with a Flag to the Enemy’s Lines.

On my arrival from Head Quarters, Major Hamell was put in close confinement in consequence of the Information of Gakes who was tried and convicted at Fort Schuyler—He had previous thereto confessed that he was sent out for the purpose of discovering what effect the conciliatory Bills had on the Minds of the People; but alledged that altho’ he had consented to the Measure to obtain his Liberty, he never meant or attempted to execute the Business. As Major Hamell at the Time of his being made Prisoner was brigade Major to my Brother and subject to the Articles of War, I humbly conceive his Case is properly cognizable before a Court Martial. If your Excellency is in Sentiment with me I could wish that (as soon as convenient) he may be bro’t to Trial.2 I am with great Respect Your Excellency’s Most Obedt Servant

Geo: Clinton

p.s. I forgot to mention that the Officer who conducted the last Flag informed the Commissioners that the Enemy declared they would receive no more Flags by Water unless previous Notice thereof was sent in by Land for their Approbation.

ALS, DLC:GW. The slightly variant text of this letter that is printed in Hastings and Holden, Clinton Papers description begins Hugh Hastings and J. A. Holden, eds. Public Papers of George Clinton, First Governor of New York, 1777–1795, 1801–1804. 10 vols. 1899–1914. Reprint. New York, 1973. description ends , 4:50–51, apparently was taken from a draft that has not been found.

1Stephen Lush, Clinton’s former brigade major and secretary who had been captured at Fort Montgomery on 6 Oct. 1777; Cornelius Van Tassel, a lieutenant in the 1st Westchester County Regiment of militia who had been captured at Tarrytown on 17 Nov. 1777, and Abraham Mabie (Mabe, Maybie) were exchanged soon after the writing of this letter for New York Loyalists Henry Cuyler, Alexander White, and James Dole (see GW to George Clinton, 8 Oct., and note 3 to that document; see also Robert Benson to Stephen Lush, 20 Sept., in Hastings and Holden, Clinton Papers description begins Hugh Hastings and J. A. Holden, eds. Public Papers of George Clinton, First Governor of New York, 1777–1795, 1801–1804. 10 vols. 1899–1914. Reprint. New York, 1973. description ends , 4:57, and Commissioners of Conspiracies to George Clinton, 28 Sept., in Hastings and Holden, Clinton Papers description begins Hugh Hastings and J. A. Holden, eds. Public Papers of George Clinton, First Governor of New York, 1777–1795, 1801–1804. 10 vols. 1899–1914. Reprint. New York, 1973. description ends , 4:112–13). Henry Cuyler, a British half-pay officer, had served as a deputy commissary in the British army during the French and Indian War and had subsequently settled near Albany. Alexander White, a native of Ireland who had immigrated to America in 1760, served as sheriff of Tryon County, N.Y., before joining General Burgoyne’s army a few days before its surrender in October 1777. After his exchange, White served as a barrack master for the British army in New York City. He subsequently settled at Sorel, Quebec. James Dole eventually settled in Shelburne, Nova Scotia.

2For Samuel Gake’s court-martial on 1 July 1778, see GW to Peter Gansevoort, 13 Aug. 1778, and note 1 to that document. For the charges against Brigade Maj. Daniel Hammill, see Samuel Holden Parsons to GW, 22 May 1778, and note 1 to that document.

Index Entries