George Washington Papers

To George Washington from George Clinton, 26 November 1778

From George Clinton

Pokeepsie [N.Y.] 26th Novr 1778

Dear Sir,

It gives me Pain to trouble your Excellency with the inclosed Complaint against some Gentlemen in the Military Line and agreable to the Law of this State for regulating Impresses of Forage &ca to request that the Offender be delivered over to the Civil Magistrate.1 I am Dear Sir with the greatest <mutilated> & Regard Your most Obedt servt

Geo: Clinton


1The enclosed letter from Joseph Strang and Nathaniel Hyatt, Jr., to Clinton, dated 25 Nov. at Hanover, N.Y., and carried “per Jas Archer Esqr. Under Sheriff,” reads: “It is with the greatest reluctance we have an occasion to make this application to your Excellency, a regard for the Laws of the State, the rights of Mankind, and a spirit of domination, notorious in Major Lee accomodant of Horse and the Corpse under his Command, have Induced us thereto.

“viz. Liett. Patrick Carne under Major Lee By Force and without our knowledge and leave Entered a possession of ours and with a Number of horses eat up and destroyed a Quanty of our Oats; We waited upon the Major and let him know that his Lieut. had not only transgress’d the Law, but Injured us in that we had not the Oats to spare, whereupon he promissed he should desist taking them for the future, and that he would replace those his Lieut. had made use off if we requested it.

“We informed the Major that there was a F: M: in the place who we Expected had Forage ready purchased and in case he had not, upon Application a warrant should be granted to Impress it for him; Upon Application a warrant was Issued to Impress a Thousand Sheaves of Oats but the Officer he sent to receive them told the persons Authorized in the warrant, the one half would be more than a necessary Supply which the[y] got, and have not since been called upon for the remainder: Notwithstanding the Lieut. persisted in taking our Oats, until there was only Thirty six Sheaves left as we were informed by our Tenant, upon which we wrote to the Major that in case Satisfaction was not made we should make use of the Law in that case made and provided: After waiting a reasonable time and receiving no Answer to our Letter we ordered out a Writ for Patrick Carne the Lieut., but when the Sheriff attempted to Execute the same, Major Lee Imprecated Damnation to himself if the Lieut. aforesaid should be carried off or should give Bail, But should go upon a Tour of duty that he was about to send him.

“Therefore we request that By a Certain Clause in the before referred to Act, Your Excellency demand of the Commander in Chief That the Said Patrick Carne be dilivered up to the Sheriff.

“It is not only us who have been ill used by Major Lee and the Corpse under his Command, but the Tirany Insults and oppression to the Inhabitants were never so severely (in our humble opinion as appears from their many Complaints) felt by any part of the Army as at present by them viz. By Threatning their Lives &c.

“If any of the Inhabitants go to him with their Complaints, that his Men Take away their Oats so that they will not have so much as Seed left; he gives them for Answer that they must Come to him for Seed next Spring, and come no more to him with their Damn poor Complaints.

“We Can Assure Your Excellency as far as we are able to Judge that the Spirits of the people are Sinking under the Consideration that the very Men into whose hands they have put Arms to protect them and their property Should thereby divest them thereof: Therefore Pray in behalf of the People that Your Excellency would be pleased to use your Endeavours that the Inhabitants be well used by the Army And nothing hath been or shall be wanting on our parts to give aid and Assistance thereto so far as our Stations require or our Influence will Extend” (DLC:GW).

Hyatt (d. 1779) held property on Cortlandt Manor in Westchester County, New York. Patrick Carnes was appointed a surgeon’s mate in the 1st Regiment of Light Dragoons in March 1777, and became a lieutenant in Lee’s Light Dragoons in April 1778; he was promoted to captain in 1780. For GW’s response to the charges, see his letters of 29 Nov. to Clinton, Maj. Henry Lee, Jr., and to Strang and Hyatt. No documents indicating a resolution to the case have been identified, and Lt. Carnes remained in the army despite these and further allegations against him (see GW to Samuel Allison, 10 April 1780 [DLC:GW]).

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