George Washington Papers

From George Washington to John Beatty, 4 April 1780

To John Beatty

[4 April 1780]


You will be pleased to signify to Major Harnage and Capn Hawker of the 62d British Regt my permission for them to repair to New-York on their paroloes, and take the usual and proper steps on the occasion.1

Mr Loring the British Commissary of prisoners is to send you out a writing declarative on the part of the enemy that no chaplains belonging to the American Army when taken shall2 be considered as prisoners of war but immediately released. As an interchange of writings is to take place between you and Mr Loring, you will send me his and a draught of the one you mean to return him, that both may be examined before they are confirmed by a mutual interchange.3 I am Sir Your Obt Sert.

P.S. Should Harnage and Hawker come by land to New-York it will be necessary to give him a route—by the way of Kings bridge—in order to avoid as much as possible the army. If there is any flag vessel coming to New-York it will be a good opportunity should this mode be preferd.

I have reced your letter of the 3d Inst.4 You have my leave of absence to go to Philadelphia.5

Df, in James McHenry’s writing, DLC:GW; Varick transcript, DLC:GW. The draft’s docket supplies the letter’s date.

1GW had authorized paroles for Maj. Henry Harnage and Capt. Erle Hawker, both Convention Army prisoners, when he wrote Maj. Gen. Arthur St. Clair on 2 April.

Harnage subsequently wrote GW from Cambridge, Mass., on 25 April: “For a moment allow the intrusion of my most sincere, and grateful thanks, for the indulgince your Excellency has most generously granted us of a Parole to New-york—We hope ever to carry with us, and retain the warmest acknowledgments and most pleasing recollection of the flattering attention you have paid to our wishes and distresses.

“Capn Hawker, and Mrs Harnage, join in assurances of respect” (ALS, DLC:GW).

2This transcription uses the catchword from the bottom of the draft’s first page rather than “shous,” inadvertently written at the start of the draft’s second page.

3GW had promised this directive to Beatty when he wrote St. Clair on 2 April (see also both letters from the Commissioners for the Exchange of Prisoners to GW, 26 March [letter 1, letter 2]). The anticipated documents from Joshua Loring, British commissary general of prisoners, and Beatty have not been identified.

4Beatty’s letter to GW of 3 April has not been found.

5Beatty went to Philadelphia to resign as commissary general of prisoners. He complained about his experience and commented on the military situation at Charleston, S.C., when he wrote his brother Reading Beatty on 1 May: “I was Eight days in Philada. and could do nothing more, than barely lodge my acct. with a promise, that perhaps in a Month a leisure hour might arise, in which they could be attended to—I grow out of all patience with such dilatory conduct, & am daily more & more happy in the reflection of being disingaged from all public Business. …

“Our public affairs at present look but gloomy—we are anxious to hear from the Southard & yet afraid of disagreable News from that Quarter—our latest accts. are the 8th ulto. a Number of the Enemies Vessels had pass’d the Bar & are supposed to be in full possession of the harbour. … Genl. Clinton has every thing to stimulate him, in the reduction of the Garrison, having before been foiled there & you may rest assured the Conflict will be warm & bloody, our troops being determined to sacrifice every thing in their opposition—I hope for the best, but dread the Consequences” (“Beatty Brothers,” description begins Joseph M. Beatty, Jr., ed., “Letters of the Four Beatty Brothers of the Continental Army, 1774–1794.” Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography 44 (1920): 193–263. description ends 216–18; see also Samuel Huntington to GW, 15 April, and n.1 to that document).

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