George Washington Papers

General Orders, 30 July 1779

General Orders

Head-Quarters Moores-House [West Point] Friday July 30th 1779.

Parole Alexandria—C. Signs Bedford. Cyprus.

The following officers are to superintend the several works herein assigned them.1

Lieutt Colonel Howard with Lieutt Hugo as his Assistant, the redoubts assigned to General Smallwood’s brigade.2

Lieut. Colo. Williams with Captain Gosner3 Fort Putnam and Fort Webb.

Colonel Tupper with Captn Drew the works at the Point.

Captn Hall4 & Captn Tatum5 the works on Constitution Island.

Major Throop with Captain Holmes6 the redoubts on the east side of the river.

For the future the Short-Troop to beat on the grand parade instead of the General.

In Congress 11th of March 1779.

Resolved—That the Engineers in the service of the United States shall be formed into a corps and stiled “The Corps of Engineers”—and shall take rank and enjoy the same rights, honors and privileges with the other troops on Continental establishment.

That a Commandant of the Corps of Engineers shall be appointed by Congress to whom their orders or those of the Commander in Chief shall be addressed and such Commandant shall render to the Commander in Chief and to the board of War an account of every matter relative to his department.

That the Engineers shall take rank in their own Corps according to the dates of their respective Commissions.

War-Office 30th of March 1779.

1st The Commandant of the Corps of Engineers or commanding Engineer in an army shall render an account to the commanding General of every thing that concerns the service of the Corps, and shall, in all cases which relate to the department act under the orders and with the concurence of the commanding General.

2ndly Whenever the army is on a march an Engineer shall attend the Quarter Master General or officer ordered to fix on the place of encamping to give his advice and opinion thereon, and he shall also as soon as may be take a plan of the camp and report it to the General.7

A Pay-Master from each brigade on this ground will attend at the Inspector General’s quarters tomorrow morning nine ô clock to consult with him on the means of establishing an uniformity in the manner of keeping their accounts—They will bring their books with them.

Lieutenant Colonels Brooks and Harmar will please to attend at the same time and place.

A General Court Martial of the line to assemble at West-Point to-morrow morning nine ô clock to try Mr James Geary Assistant to George Measum Esquire Depy Clothier General of the Northern department8 & such others as shall come before them—Colo. Durkee to preside.9

Varick transcript, DLC:GW.

A transcript of another orderly book from GW’s headquarters includes “After Orders” on this date, which read: “A Serjt corpl & 12 men from the Connecticut line furnished with three days provision, to be sent to Fishkill very early to-morrow morning, where they will take charge of fifteen prisoners whom they are to escort to Easton. The Commissary of Prisoners will give the proper directions” (NN: Bancroft Collection).

1The general orders for 28 July had appealed for officers to be regular superintendents over the construction of fortifications at and near West Point.

2For the assigned redoubts, see General Orders, 29 July.

3Peter Gosner served as a lieutenant in the 1st Pennsylvania Battalion and 2d Pennsylvania Regiment between January 1776 and September 1777, when he was appointed a captain in the latter regiment. Gosner retired from the army in January 1781.

4Clement Hall joined the 2d North Carolina Regiment as a lieutenant in September 1775, became captain in April 1777, and was breveted major in September 1783. He served until the end of the war. Sharing the same name as his father (1706–1759), who was a prominent North Carolina clergyman and author, Hall wrote to GW on 15 and 30 Jan. 1790 seeking patronage positions (see Papers, Presidential Series, description begins W. W. Abbot et al., eds. The Papers of George Washington, Presidential Series. 17 vols. to date. Charlottesville, Va., 1987–. description ends 4:584–85).

5Howell Tatum (c.1753–1822) served as an ensign in the 1st North Carolina Regiment from September 1775 until he became a lieutenant in January 1776. Elevated to captain in April 1777, he was taken prisoner at Charleston, S.C., on 12 May 1780 and exchanged on 14 June 1781. Tatum resigned from the army in May 1782 and later gained prominence in Tennessee politics (see Hugh Williamson to GW, 28 May 1790, and John B. Ashe to GW, 5 June 1790, [Papers, Presidential Series, description begins W. W. Abbot et al., eds. The Papers of George Washington, Presidential Series. 17 vols. to date. Charlottesville, Va., 1987–. description ends 5:422–24, 476–78] and Andrew Jackson to GW, 8 Feb. 1797 [DNA: RG 59, Miscellaneous Letters]).

6Eliphalet Holmes served as a captain in a Connecticut state regiment between June and December 1776 before becoming a captain in the 1st Connecticut Regiment in January 1777. Holmes wrote GW from Orangetown, N.Y., in a letter of resignation, dated 22 Aug. 1780: “Having served my Country (ever since the first commencement of hostilities) most agreeably under your Excellency’s command, am now forc’d with the greatest reluctance to request A discharge from the service. my constitution being so far impair’d, as renders me totally unable to perform the duties incumbent on me as an officer; will I hope appologize for such A request at the present Juncture” (DNA: RG 93, manuscript file no. 758). Holmes later represented East Haddam in the Connecticut general assembly.

7This is the first general order in which GW publicized congressional resolutions of 11 March establishing the engineer corps and the Board of War’s proposed regulations for that corps and for the companies of sappers and miners, dated 30 March. These items came to GW from the Board of War as enclosures to a letter of 1 April. For additional installments of the regulations, see the general orders for 31 July and 2–4 Aug.; see also GW to the Board of War, 4 April (first letter), and 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 13:305–6.

8For James Geary’s arrest, see GW to Stirling, 28 July, and n.9 to that document.

9A transcript of another orderly book from GW’s headquarters continues at this place with orders that read: “A Lt. Col. or Major next for court martial and two Captains from the Maryland line—the same from the Penna and the Massachusetts, and three captains from the Connecticut, to attend as members” (NN: Bancroft Collection).

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