George Washington Papers

To George Washington from George Washington To Major General Benjamin Lincoln, 10 September 1780

To Major General Benjamin Lincoln

Head qrs [Bergen County] Septr the 10th 1780


By a Letter I have received from Sir Henry Clinton of the 4th Instant, I find that the interview which has been proposed between You & General Phillips is to take place on the 19th of the Month, at Elizabeth Town.1 I presume Sir Henry Clinton informs You of this by the Letter I now transmit;2 and I need not add, that it will give me the highest pleasure if You can effect your exchange either for Major General Phillips or Major General de Riedesel.

From the prospect I had, founded on the correspondence which I had seen, that there would be a meeting between You & General Phillips, on the subject of your exchange3—and the earnest desire I had of extending this business still farther—I was induced to inform Sir Henry Clinton by a Letter of the 26th Ulto that “I should direct our Commissary of prisoners to be present at the time, who would be instructed to execute with the Commissary on his part, if he should think proper to send him, an exchange of Officers, prisoners of War, on the footing of equal rank or composition, as far as the number in our hands would admit, and to include also the whole of the Officers of Convention now on parole at New York or in Europe.” General Clinton has answered my Letter and informed me “His Commissary of prisoners should attend.”

I shall accordingly order Mr Skinner our Deputy Commissary of prisoners to be at Elizabeth Town, on the 19th—who will be fully instructed to carry my propositions to Sir Henry Clinton into execution. The business as to the main points will rest on the most simple footing, and such as Mr Skinner is perfectly acquainted with; He has also a familiar knowledge of the few more particular cases which can arise on the occasion, as he has been long in the Office & has had not only repeated instructions, but has acted upon the subject.4 From these considerations I will not give You any trouble in the matter—more than to wish You to interest General phillips, as far as You can with propriety, if You should find it necessary, to promote & countenance the exchanges which are mutually interesting to both parties. Before You set out for Elizabeth Town I will shew you the Instructions Mr Skinner will receive.5 I have the honor to be with great regard & respect Sir Your Most Obedt sert

Go: Washington

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

1See Henry Clinton to GW, 4 Sept., found at GW to Clinton, 26 Aug., source note.

2This letter has not been identified.

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