George Washington Papers

From George Washington to Brigadier General Edward Hand, 28 February 1779

To Brigadier General Edward Hand

Head Quarters Middle Brook 28th Feby 1779


I have been favd with yours of the 17th and 22d instants.1 If the Serjeant of the 3d pennsylvania Regiment will be as useful to you as you represent, you may keep him with you.2 I will direct the Commissary of Musters to send up a Deputy to your quarter, who will transact the Business with more regularity than an Officer not acquainted with the proper mode of making Returns.

I approve of your plan of sending out the foraging party provided there is no risque of their being intercepted and cut off. I would wish a very discreet and careful Officer might3 command this party on many accounts, particularly to attend, in the collection of Grain, Horses & Cattle, to the real wants of the inhabitants, who may be obliged to render service and afford supplies to the Enemy, from necessity and not from inclination: In your instructions therefore to the commanding Officer, be pleased to direct him to leave as much Forage to each Farm as will serve the remaining Stock till next Grass—as much Grain as will support them till Harvest—some milch Cattle, and a reasonable number of Horses. Of the latter, we should procure as many as possible, without driving the inhabitants to the utmost distress, as we shall want them much for the Expedition. Direct an exact account also to be kept of the names of all persons and the Articles taken from them, that we may, at a future day, ma⟨ke⟩4 a discrimination between those, who have taken an active part against us, and those who are not really inimical. Whatever is brought in, in this way, is to be deemed for th⟨e⟩ benefit of the Continent. If the party, upon their return, appear to have been industrious and active, some compensation shall be made to them, but to allow them any certain share in what they collect, would encourage them to maraud and commit every act of violence upon the Inhabitants.

I have upon the hint in your last directed Mr Deane the Indian Agent to make the enqu[i]ries you mention.5

Inclosed you have a set of questions which I want resolved as accurately6 as possible. You can take an opportunity of putting them occasionally, without any seeming design, to persons acquainted with the parts of the Country which they respect, and mark down the answers in the Margin opposite each question—When you have obtained answers to all or as many as you can, be pleased to return them to me.7 I am Sir Your most obt Servt

Go: Washington

LS, in Tench Tilghman’s writing, NjMoHP; Df, DLC:GW; Varick transcript, DLC:GW.

1Hand’s letters to GW of 17 and 22 Feb. have not been found.

2GW is referring to Sgt. John Delong (born c.1745), whose absence from the 3d Pennsylvania Regiment led to his being advertised as a deserter in the Pennsylvania Packet or the General Advertiser [Philadelphia] for 15 April: “FORTY DOLLARS REWARD.... he [Delong] went on furlough to Lower Smithfield township, in Northampton county, and is supposed to be still living there: Had on when he deserted, a blue regimental coat turned up with red, white cloth jacket and breeches, an old hat and a Continental shirt.” Replying to this advertisement, Hand wrote a letter to John Dunlap, publisher of the Pennsylvania Packet or the General Advertiser, from Carlisle, Pa., on 24 April that was printed in the issue for 4 May: “In justice to the character of Serjeant John Delong... I beg you may inform the public, that by permission of his Excellency the Commander in Chief, I detained Serjeant Delong at Minisink, and that at the very time he was advertised as a deserter, he was on a particular and fatiguing command by my orders.” For Delong’s service as a scout in Indian country, see Oliver Spencer to GW, 14 May (DLC:GW). Sometime after the war, Delong moved to Milton, Ohio, and he applied for a pension from that state on 9 May 1818.

3The draft manuscript, which is also in Tilghman’s writing, includes the words “be sent to” at this place in the text.

4At this place on the draft manuscript, Tilghman wrote and then struck out the words “compensation to.”

5For GW’s attempt to communicate with James Deane, see GW to Philip Schuyler, 26 Feb., and Schuyler to GW, 1–7 March.

6At this place on the draft manuscript, Tilghman wrote and struck out the word “near” before writing “accurately” above the line.

7The enclosed copy of GW’s questions probably is now in NN: Emmet Collection (see Questions and Answers Regarding a Proposed Expedition Against the Six Nations, March–April, source note).

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