George Washington Papers

From George Washington to Brigadier General Anthony Wayne, 21 September 1779

To Brigadier General Anthony Wayne

West Point Sept. 21st [1779]

Dear Sir,

I have recievd the inclos⟨ed repre⟩sentation of some violences said to be commited in your corps against Young Gecock an inhabitant and a child of the Widow Garrison1—By a verbal state of the affair more intelligible than the written one, I understand that some men of the light Infantry had made a practice of plundering the farms of the complainants—that a party of these marauders was discovered in this business on the night of the 9th instant and fired upon by Gecock, which having occasioned an alarm, he was seized and carried down to the light infantry underwent a summary trial and receivd fifty lashes—that Majr McCormuck went the same night to the house [of] the Widow Garrison ill treated the whole family and wounded one of her Children in the thigh with his sword.

This if true would be an irregularity of so serious a nature and the people are so clear and positive in their story that I think it my duty to bring the Major to trial and have directed the Adjutant Genl to arrest him for the purpose.

I shall be oblig’d to you to let me know fully the circumstances of the treatment of Young Gecocks so far as they have fallen within your knowlege.2

I have it so much at heart to prevent ⟨eve⟩ry species of Outrages to the inhabitants, ⟨tha⟩t I feel sensibly chagarined whenever any thing of that complexion comes before me. With great regard I am Dr Sir Your most Obedt Servt

Go: Washington

LS, in George Augustine Washington’s writing, PHi: Wayne Papers; Df, DLC:GW; Varick transcript, DLC:GW. GW signed the cover of the LS.

On this date, in response to a letter from Wayne which has not been found, GW wrote a second letter to Wayne from headquarters at West Point: “Your letter of yesterday evening came to hand late last night with its inclosure from Lord Stirling, which I return. I have nothing in particular to recommend” (LS, in James McHenry’s writing, PHi: Wayne Papers). The enclosure from Major General Stirling has not been identified.

1The enclosure has not been identified. “Widow Garrison” may have been the widow of Beverly Garrison, whose son, of the same name, Benson J. Lossing later described as living “near the north end of Lake Sinnipink” close to Fort Montgomery, New York. Lossing describes the elder Beverly Garrison as a “wagon-master at Fort Montgomery” who was captured in 1777, and as a friend of Beverly Robinson (Lossing, Pictorial Field-Book, description begins Benson J. Lossing. The Pictorial Field-Book of the Revolution; or, Illustrations, by Pen and Pencil, of the History, Biography, Scenery, Relics, and Traditions of the War for Independence. 2 vols. New York, 1851–52. description ends 2:163-164).

2Wayne replied at length on 23 September. For the court-martial and acquittal of Henry McCormick, brigade major and inspector of Wayne’s Light Infantry Corps, see General Orders, 11 Oct. (see also Wayne to GW, 24 Sept., and GW to Wayne, 24 Sept.).

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