George Washington Papers

From George Washington to the Board of War, 31 August 1780

To the Board of War

Head qrs in the vicinity of Fort Lee [N.J.]
August 31. 1780


I have had the honor of Your Letter of the 9th Inst., inclosing One to the Board from Lt Colo. Forrest of the Maryland line. I have written to him on the subject of his application, and ordered a Court Martial to sit for the trial of the Officer he has arrested and to transmit me the proceedings, as soon as they are finished.1 The point mentioned by the Board respecting the Arms & Accoutrements delivered the Delaware Militia Regiment shall be attended to, and measures taken to secure them when their service expires.2 The matter too concerning the Artillery Independent Companies is unde⟨r⟩ consideration, and the result will be reported.3

I beg leave to transmit a Letter from Lt Colonels peters & Hull of the Massachusett’s line on the subject of their Commissions,4 which I request the Board will make out & forward by the first Opportunity. The former is clearly intitled to the vacancy in the 15th Regiment by the resignation of Lt Colo. Haskell which is found to have happened by a Court of Inquiry appointed for the purpose on the 1st of July 1779 (a fact not known when the Arrangement of the line was made)5 The latter to the vacancy in the 3d by the cashierment of Lt Colo. Loring which took place the 12 of Augt 1779.6 I have the Honor to be With great respect & esteem Gentn Yr Most Obed. st.

Df, in Robert Hanson Harrison’s writing, DLC:GW; Varick transcript, DLC:GW.

1Benjamin Stoddert, Board of War secretary, wrote GW from Philadelphia on 9 Aug.: “The board have the honor to transmit the enclosed letter from Lt Col. Forrest, for your Excellency’s determination” (ALS, DLC:GW). The enclosure from Lt. Col. Uriah Forrest to the board was dated 28 July (DLC:GW). GW summarized that letter when he wrote Forrest from headquarters in Bergen County on 31 Aug.: “I have received your favr of the 17th instant—The Board of War have lately transmitted me a letter, from you to them, of the 28th July, representing the case of an Officer arrested by you for discharging or exchanging men in an illegal manner, and requesting to know whether you could with propriety appoint a general Court Martial for his trial—This you cannot do, but that the matter may be brought to a speedy issue, and to prevent the uncertainty—trouble and expence of Witnesses attending the Army to the southward, a General Court Martial, whereof Major John Steward or any senior Feild Officer who may be in the state and convenient, yourself excepted, is to be president, is to sit at Baltimore for the trial of the Gentleman above referred to—You will be pleased to signify this to the Officers who are to compose the Court—The proceedings are to be transmitted to me for my approbation—I have excepted you from being president as having made the arrest.

“I am exceedingly sorry to hear that the prospects of procuring Recruits to fill the Continental Battalions are so unfavorable. I however have full confidence that every exertion will be made by the State and by the Officers appointed to assist in the execution of the law to obtain the Men” (Df, in Tench Tilghman’s writing, DLC:GW; Varick transcript, DLC:GW).

2GW wrote Lt. Col. Henry Neill from headquarters near Passaic Falls on 12 Oct.: “As there is no immediate occassion for the further services of Your Regt of Militia with the Army it may commence its return to the State of Delaware as soon as all the Arms, Accoutrements, and Camp Equipage drawn from the Public are returned to the Commissary of Military Stores and Quarter Master at Camp.

“You will then apply to the Quarter-Master General for Tools necessary to repair the Roads from hence to Trenton, and receive his instructions on the subject—As you will give your own receipt for the Tools, you will be pleased to see them delivered to the Quarter Master at Trenton and take his Receipt for the same—Any Arms, Accoutrements &c. which may have been carried off by the Sick or Deserters you will also use your endeavours to have recovered & returned into the Public.

“After the before mentioned service is performed, The Regiment is to be discharged; And I have nothing further to add, but to request that My thanks may be communicated to them for the alacrity & spirit with which they took the field, & their orderly and soldierlike behavior while in service” (Df, in David Humphreys’s writing, DLC:GW; Varick transcript, DLC:GW).

Henry Neill (1742–1803) served as a Delaware militia major from July to December 1776. He became lieutenant colonel in July 1780 of the new 4th Delaware militia regiment, which operated as the Continental army’s 2d Delaware Regiment until discharged in November 1780. Neill began handling finances for Delaware’s navy in 1781 and became a member of the Delaware Council in 1787.

4The letter from lieutenant colonels William Hull and Andrew Peters has not been identified, but see William Heath to GW, 8 February.

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