George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Joshua Hett Smith, 6 October 1780

From Joshua Hett Smith

[Tappan] October 6th 1780

May it please Your Excellency

The Debilitation both of Body and Mind, with which I find myself afflicted by a long Quotidian Ague both before, and which has increased since my Confinement, necessitates me to apply for being handed over to the Civil Power—there to answer the Charges that are or may be exhibited against me; as I find myself unequal to the Fatigue of being removed with the Army—in their different Movements,1 or should your Excellency think it inexpedient to comply with this Request, I hope your Excellency will indulge me the Previledge of Council to assist me in my Defence—This I hope is not unprecedented—and I know is not inconsistent with—those Sentiments of Humanity which marks your Excellencies Character, where there is a possibility of Innocence2—I shall feel some aliviation of my Distress, if I am indulged with the former or latter of the above Requisitions, and shall ever gratefully remember the Favor—and am with profound Respect Your Excellenceys most Obedient humble Sert

Joshua H. Smith


1GW’s army began a movement from Orangetown on this date to establish a new camp at Totowa (see n.15 to the editorial essay above).

2Smith later commented: “Without any one as my counsel I was compelled to enter on my own defence, which I did with the more cheerfulness, from the candid and impartial manner in which the trial was conducted by the judge-advocate [John Laurance], and the court-martial in general, but more particularly the president, Colonel Henry Jackson” (Smith, Narrative description begins Joshua Hett Smith. An Authentic Narrative of the Causes which Led to the Death of Major Andrè, Adjutant-General of His Majesty’s Forces in North America. 1808. Reprint. New York, 1969. description ends , 201).

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