George Washington Papers

To George Washington from John Beatty, 1 November 1778

From John Beatty

Elizabeth Town [N.J.] Novr 1st 1778.


The present movement of the Enemy1 preventing my Obtaining Leave to go into New York or Long Island for my immediate and personal Attendance to the application of the <illegible> for the use of the Prisoners as Ordered by the Congress2 will I fear detain me hear some time longer—I am promised however as soon as the Fleet has Sailed and things thrown into their usual Channel to be admitted, hope it will not <be> long—I wrote to your Excellency a few days ago3 <inc>losing a Copy of a Letter from the Board of War, respecting furnishing the British Prisoners with provisions Fuel &ca <and req>uesting the removal of Mr Franks and the appointment of some other Person who should be fully Competent to the Business The Original of which I had informed your Excellency I had Shewn to Mr Loring; since then am favoured with a Letter from New York, inclosing one to Mr Franks by Order of Sr Henry Clinton demanding the Authority he acted under and a dismission from any future Services in that Line—And requiring of me that I should forthwith furnish the Prisoners in our possession with the like Provisions, Fuel & ca that they did ours, both these Letters I have referred to the Board of War,4 and thought proper to acquaint Your Excellency <with> the Measures I am pursuing—I am sir with the greatest respect Your Excellencys Most Obt & Most Hume Servt

Jno. Beatty Com: Gen: Pris.


GW’s assistant secretary, James McHenry, replied on 7 Nov.: “I am directed by his Excellency to reply to your letters of the 26th Ulto and the 1st Int; and to refer you to congress or the board of war for the determination of the matters in which you request his Excellencys advice. They must conclude the propriety of General Clintons requisition” (DLC:GW).

1British troop embarkations in New York in early and mid-October had raised American hopes that Gen. Henry Clinton intended to evacuate the city. Instead the British were preparing two major expeditions: one, a force of about 5,000 troops under Maj. Gen. James Grant, sailed from Sandy Hook on 3 Nov., bound for St. Lucia in the West Indies; the other, a force of about 3,500 troops under Lt. Col. Archibald Campbell, left New York for Sandy Hook on 7 Nov. and sailed from thence on 26 Nov., bound for Savannah, Georgia. A third force, of one German and two Loyalist regiments under Brig. Gen. John Campbell, sailed on 3 Nov. for Pensacola, Fla. (see Kemble Papers description begins [Stephen Kemble]. The Kemble Papers. 2 vols. New York, 1884-85. In Collections of the New-York Historical Society, vols. 16–17. description ends , 1:165).

2Congress resolved on 5 Oct. to advance $50,000 to Beatty “for the use of the prisoners in the hands of the enemy, and to discharge the debts of those exchanged” (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 , 12:980).

4For information on the travails of David Franks, who was arrested, released, and later banished to New York, see Henry Laurens to GW, 22 Oct., n.4.

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