George Washington Papers

General Orders, 1 September 1779

General Orders

Head-Quarters Moore’s House [West Point]
Wednesday Septr 1st 1779.

Parole Colerain— C. Signs Beverly—Acton.

A Court of Inquiry consisting of the following officers, Brigadier General Huntington President—Colonels Bradley and C. Hall, Lieutenant Colonel Murray and Majr Furnald Members, to sit at the President’s quarters on friday next1 at 10 ôclock A.M. at the request of Colonel Udney Hay D.Q.M.G. in consequence of a letter from a Committee of Congress to the Quarter Master General to examine into the reasons and circumstances of the dismission of Mr John Banker from the offices of superintendent of Artificers and Deputy Barrack-Master of a certain District in the State of New-York; The parties are desired to attend at the above time and place.2

As a sufficient number of company books have not yet arrived: the officers already furnished with them are to postpone opening their accounts according to the forms prescribed, ’till further orders.

At the General Court Martial 31st ultimo whereof Colonel Marshall is President, Lieutenant Donovan of the 6th Maryland regiment was tried for “Warning & insisting upon Lieutenant Buff’s doing duty out of his tour.”3

The Court do unanimously adjudge that the said Lieutt Donovan is not guilty of the charge exhibited; but are of opinion that the charge was exhibited through a misunderstanding of the Parties.

The Commander in Chief confirms the opinion of the Court. Lieutenant Donovan is released from his Arrest.

Varick transcript, DLC:GW.

1The next Friday was 3 September.

2John Bancker received a commission in September 1775 as a lieutenant in the independent company of rangers in John Lasher’s New York militia regiment. He was promoted to captain in Lasher’s regiment in August 1776. In November 1776, Bancker received an appointment as superintendent of the artificers, buildings, barracks, and stores at Fishkill, N.Y., and in December of that year was appointed barrack master at Fishkill. In April 1778 he received an appointment as chief barrack master of a district that extended from Poughkeepsie, N.Y., to the Croton River.

Lt. Col. Udny Hay, who had been given the superintendency of the barracks in his northern department in July, had dismissed Bancker as deputy barrack master that same month. The dismissal was executed in compliance with Congress’s resolution of 26 May, which ordered the removal of all deputy barrack masters (except those at Philadelphia or Charlottesville, Va.) and placed the barracks under the supervision of the deputy quartermasters (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 14:645). Hay previously had complained of Bancker’s conduct (see Hay to Nathanael Greene, 11 May, in Greene Papers, description begins Richard K. Showman et al., eds. The Papers of General Nathanael Greene. 13 vols. Chapel Hill, N.C., 1976–2005. description ends 4:7-9). Bancker subsequently protested his dismissal in a memorial to Congress, and a committee of Congress asked Q.M. Gen. Nathanael Greene to enquire into the matter. Bancker’s memorial, dated 14 Aug., is in DNA:PCC, item 41. For the committee’s letter to Greene, see Smith, Letters of Delegates, description begins Paul H. Smith et al., eds. Letters of Delegates to Congress, 1774–1789. 26 vols. Washington, D.C., 1976–2000. description ends 13:391. For Hay’s letter requesting a court of inquiry, see Hay to Nathanael Greene, 31 Aug. in Greene Papers, description begins Richard K. Showman et al., eds. The Papers of General Nathanael Greene. 13 vols. Chapel Hill, N.C., 1976–2005. description ends 4:349-50. For the findings of the court of inquiry, see General Orders, 9 September.

3Richard Donovan (1731-1780), a native of Ireland, joined the 6th Maryland Regiment as an ensign in March 1777, and the next month he became regimental adjutant. He received promotion to lieutenant in April 1778. Donovan was killed at the Battle of Camden, S.C., in August 1780.

James Bruff (1734-1815) joined the 6th Maryland Regiment as a second lieutenant in December 1776 and was promoted to first lieutenant in October 1777. He transferred to the 5th Maryland Regiment in January 1781 and, the following month, became a captain lieutenant. Bruff was promoted to captain in September 1781. He was wounded and taken prisoner at Camden, S.C., in April 1781 and was later exchanged. Bruff left the army in April 1783; however, in June 1794, he received a commission in the U.S. Army as a captain of artillerists and engineers. Bruff was promoted to major of the 1st Regiment of Artillerists and Engineers in November 1803. He left the U.S. army, for the second time, in June 1807.

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