George Washington Papers

From George Washington to William Livingston, 9 May 1779

To William Livingston

Head Quarters Midd⟨le⟩ Brook May 9th 1779

Dr Sir,

I have the honor to inclose your Excellency the examinations of two of the inhabitants of this state David Urmston & Bn Pound taken before Brigadier General Knox—The practice of seducing the soldiery and aiding them in deserting to the enemy has arisen to such an alarming height, that unless some severe examples can be made it must be attended with the most pernicious consequences. How far the laws have made provision for punishing a crime of this nature, I am not able to judge; but as far as they will extend, I am persuaded Your Excellency will see the necessity of do[in]g every thing to suppress a practice so dangerous to the public service. The men will be delivered up to the civil authority in such manner as you shall be pleased to direct; and I have desired General Knox to furnish whatever evidence he may have relative to their conduct.1 I have the honor to be with perfect esteem & regard Dr Sir Your most obed. serv.

Df, in Alexander Hamilton’s writing, DLC:GW; Varick transcript, DLC:GW.

1Livingston replied on 10 May expressing concern at the inadequacy of state laws for punishing such crimes, but promised to do the best he could. Whether or not David Urmston and Benjamin Pound (b. 1740) were punished is uncertain. Pound at least was probably not executed, for he is recorded as having moved after the war to Niagara County, N.Y. For more on the civilians and soldiers that Brig. Gen. Henry Knox had put on trial, see his letters to GW of 6 May and this date.

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