George Washington Papers

From George Washington to Major General Horatio Gates, 10 October 1778

To Major General Horatio Gates

Head Quarters Fredericksburg 10th Octobr 1778.


I recd yours of yesterday by Majr Marshall who delivered the prisoners Farnsworth and Blair to the provost.

The Crime of passing counterfeit Bills of Credit, by which our currency has been extremely depreciated, added to the strong suspicion1 of their being both Spies, will render it necessary to have them executed according to their Sentences. I shall direct a sensible Clergyman to get as ample a confession as possible from them.2

Congress having constantly given direction in all matters respecting the prisoners of the Convention, I would recommend it to you to lay Lord Balcarres’s letters to yourself and Colo. Magaw before them. It is evident that if he is remanded to Massachusetts, Colo. Magaw will be immediately recalled.3 I am with Respect Sir your most obt Servt

Go: Washington

LS, in Tench Tilghman’s writing, DNA:PCC, item 154; LB, DNA:PCC, item 171; Df, DLC:GW; Varick transcript, DLC:GW.

1At this place on the draft manuscript, Tilghman first wrote: “proof.” He then struck out that word and wrote “strong suspicion” above the line.

2GW wrote Alexander McWhorter for this purpose on 12 October. For GW’s order for David Farnsworth’s and John Blair’s executions, see General Orders, 23 October. They were put to death at Hartford on 3 November.

3For a discussion of Balcarres’s request to be allowed to go to England on parole, see Gates to GW, 9 Oct., n.2; see also Henry Laurens to GW, 30 Oct., and note 3 to that document.

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