George Washington Papers

General Orders, 23 July 1779

General Orders

Head-Quarters Moores-House [West Point] Sunday July 23rd 1779.

Parole Minorca—C. Signs Malo Lisbon—

A board of General Officers to be composed of Major Generals Heath and St Clair and Brigadier Generals Nixon, Parsons Smallwood, Knox and Paterson are to sit tomorrow morning ten ôclock at General Heath’s quarters to make a complete and final arrangement of the officers in the Massachusetts line.

The board will be pleased to fix the precise rank & station of every Field officer and also the precedence of the Captains—The Commander in Chief will lay before them all the papers in his hands upon the subject.1

The Commissary General of Issues in his arrangements for supplying the respective brigades with provisions will take care that the allowance for the Garrison of West Point is not broken in upon nor reduced, but that thirty days provision, (at least) is always in store for it.2

It was omitted to be mentioned in the order of yesterday that the Light-Infantry from Nixon’s & Larned’s brigades are to form one battalion; That from Patersons & the North Carolina to form another: Major Hull to command the former and Major Murphy the latter: Colonel Putnam will have the command of both.3

The Light-Infantry from these brigades to parade at nine ô clock tomorrow morning at West-Point to be inspected and formed into battalions.

The recruits coming on from the State of Massachusetts immediately on their arrival in camp are to be reported to the Adjutant General who is to direct their distribution to the several regiments of that State in proportion to the strength of each, to bring the whole, as near as may be to an equality.4

The officers commanding regiments will have a similar distribution made to the several companies that these also may be nearly of the same standard.

The present encampment of the Army being rather confined and not admitting a change of ground, an extraordinary degree of attention will be necessary to preserve cleanliness—The regulations for this purpose are punctually to be carried into execution.5

At a brigade General Court Martial held at Smith’s-Clove, by order of Brigadier General Smallwood the 5th inst. Lieutenant Colonel Howard President, John Club, John Whitmore, Roger Leonard and Charles Knox of the 3rd Maryland regiment were tried for, “desertion & attempting to go to the enemy”—found guilty of a breach of the 1st Article of the 6th Section of the Articles of War6 and sentenced (two thirds of the court agreeing thereto) to suffer death. His Excellency, the Commander in Chief confirms the sentences.

Varick transcript, DLC:GW; copy (extract), MHi: Heath Papers.

1The arrangement of officers in the Massachusetts line had been a longstanding problem. See GW to Alexander McDougall, 25 Feb.; McDougall to GW, 14 May; Joseph Pettingill to GW, 12 June; Officers of the Massachusetts Line to GW, 13 June; Noah M. Littlefield to GW, 8 July; John Brooks to GW, 13 July; and Thomas Cogswell to GW, 24 July. For further difficulties before completing this arrangement, see General Orders, 2 Aug.; GW to William Heath and a Board of General Officers, 3 Aug. (MHi: Heath Papers); and GW to John Jay, 5 Aug. (first letter; DNA:PCC, item 152).

2For GW’s affirmation of this requirement, see his letter to Charles Stewart of 29 July.

3See General Orders, 22 July, for assignments to the light infantry.

4Steuben had suggested this action in his letter to GW of 20 July. These Massachusetts recruits apparently had begun their march for the Highlands in early July (see William Heath to GW, 7 July, n.2, and GW to Henry Knox, 12 July, n.4).

5See “Necessary Regulations for preserving Order and Cleanliness in the Camp,” in Steuben, Regulations, description begins [Friedrich Wilhelm von Steuben]. Regulations for the Order and Discipline of the Troops of the United States. Philadelphia, 1779. description ends 82–86. The general orders for 11 April also identified sanitation practices for the army when in camp with special reference to disposing “of every kind of filth,” burying “all carrion and putrid flesh and bones,” and the maintenance and use of latrines.

6The first article of the sixth section of the articles of war reads: “All officers and soldiers, who having received pay, or having been duly inlisted in the service of the United States, shall be convicted of having deserted the same, shall suffer death, or such other punishment as by a court-martial shall be inflicted” (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 5:792).

Index Entries