George Washington Papers

From George Washington to General Henry Clinton, 26 July 1780

To General Henry Clinton

Head qrs [Preakness, N.J.] July 26th 1780


I have been duly honoured with Your Excellency’s Letter of the 19th Instant,1 and am pleased to find that the proposition I had the honor of communicating to General Knyphausen and afterwards to Your Excellency on the 5th of this month, for mutually appointing Agents for prisoners has met your approbation. I should have been happy if You had delineated in your Letter, your ideas at least, of the powers & restrictions under which they are to act; but not having done it, I beg leave to offer the inclosed propositions on this head for your consideration and to request your Answer to them, as soon as it may be convenient, with any additional ones Your Excellency may think proper to subjoin.2

It will be perfectly agreable for the Agent to be appointed on your part, to reside at Lancaster, as Your Excellency has proposed, which will also be made the place of Confinement for the privates, prisoners of War in our hands, as far as circumstances will reasonably permit.3 I have the Honor to be with great respect Sir Your Most Obedt servant

Go: Washington

LS, in Robert Hanson Harrison’s writing, P.R.O.: 30/55, Carleton Papers; Df, DLC:GW; copy, enclosed in GW to Samuel Huntington, 24 Aug., DNA:PCC, item 152; copy, DNA:PCC, item 169; Varick transcript, DLC:GW.

2An undated draft of the enclosed “Propositions respecting the Agents to be appointed for Prisoners” reads:

“1. The respective Agents are to be permitted to visit the Prisoners confined, where they reside, at least once a Week, in the presence of an Officer appointed for the Purpose, in order to collect Returns, see that they are regularly served with the Provisions to which they are entitled—to hear their Complaints, if any, and in General, to examine into the State of their Health, Accommodation and Wants; All which they may report to the Commander in Chief, in whose Lines they are, And also to their own Commander in Chief, if they deem it essential. They are to be permitted in like Manner and for the same Purposes, to visit such other Prisoners as may be confined at more remote Posts, whenever they judge it necessary.

“2. The Agents are to be allowed to receive and distribute among the Prisoners such Provision, Cloathing and Necessaries as may be transmitted for their use from Time to Time. They shall also be at Liberty in Addition, to purchase these Articles from the adverse Party; And to negotiate Bills of Exchange for the Purposes of paying for such Purchases, the Board of the Officers & for their other Exegencies.

“3. Each Agent to be allowed to dwell by himself, with his Family, if he has One, without having any Person billetted with him, or being subjected to any Impositions whatever, under such General Regulations, as the respective Commanders in Chief or other proper Officers may direct.

“4. Each Agent to be at Liberty to pass to the Army to which he belongs whenever he may think it necessary for obtaining Supplies for the Prisoners or settling his Accots, subject to the Controul however of the Commander in Chief within whose Lines he is, in Case Circumstances should require his being delayed. The Agents upon this and all Occasions to consider themselves under Parole not to divulge or do any thing prejudicial to the Party with thom they reside.

“5. In Case of Misbehaviour or a Charge of Misbehaviour in either Agent, on a Complaint thereof and Request to the Commander in Chief under whom he acts, he shall be recalled and another appointed.

“6. If an Agent should resign or be recalled, he is to be permitted to return with his Family and Effects, under the Sanction of a Flag.

“7. Each Commander in Chief to be answerable for the good Behaviour of the Agent appointed on his Part, who shall not intermeddle with Public Affairs or the Politicks of the Place where he is Resident.

“8. The Agents on either Side to be secure in their Persons & Effects & to be treated with suitable respect while they continue in Office” (DLC:GW).

3No reply from Clinton to GW has been found, but see GW to Samuel Huntington, 24 August.

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