George Washington Papers

From George Washington to Captain John Stokes, 11 February 1779

To Captain John Stokes

Head Quarters [Middlebrook] 11th Feby 1779.


I have received your letter of yesterdays date inclosing a list of articles seized in the hands of two women from New York.1

The Licence to pass and repass granted them by the executive Council of Pennsilvania—is not intended to countenance the illicit Commerce in which they have been concerned—Besides a Law of this State subjects such contraband Goods to forfeiture2—You will therefore inform yourself what Conduct is prescribed by this Law, to the Captors of such effects—and proceed accordingly. I am Sir &.

Df, in John Laurens’s writing, DLC:GW; Varick transcript, DLC:GW. The draft manuscript is addressed to “Capt. Stokes at Bonum Town.” John Stokes (d. 1780), a captain in the 2d Virginia Regiment, was stationed currently at Bonhamtown, N.J., where he was active in gathering intelligence (see GW to Stokes, 15 Feb., and GW to William Maxwell, 15 and 16 Feb.). Stokes had been commissioned an ensign in the 6th Virginia Regiment in February 1776 and had been promoted to second lieutenant in August 1776, to first lieutenant in December 1776, and to captain in February 1778. Stokes had transferred to the 2d Virginia Regiment in September 1778. He was killed at the Battle of the Waxhaws in South Carolina on 29 May 1780.

1This letter has not been found.

2For the New Jersey law passed on 8 Oct. 1778 and amended on 11 Dec. 1778 that required New Jersey citizens to have passes to cross enemy lines and prohibited those who had such passes from carrying with them provisions or other goods not necessary for their subsistence, see William Livingston to GW, 21 Dec. 1778, and n.2 to that document (see also Livingston to Joseph Reed, 22 Oct. 1778, Prince, Livingston Papers description begins Carl E. Prince et al., eds. The Papers of William Livingston. 5 vols. Trenton and New Brunswick, N.J., 1979–88. description ends , 2:471–72).

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