George Washington Papers

General Orders, 28 October 1780

General Orders

Head Quarters Totowa Saturday October 28th 1780

Parole Morocco Countersigns May Moore
Watchword Mark.

[Officers] For the day Tomorrow[:] Brigadier General Irvine[,]
Colonel M. Jackson[,] Lieutenant Colonel Basset[,] Major Alexander[,]
Brigade Major Darby.

Varick transcript, DLC:GW.

GW spent the final nine weeks of 1780 in areas broadly bordering the lower Hudson River. He initially maintained headquarters at Preakness (or Totowa), N.J., and then shifted to New Windsor after the army went into winter quarters (see GW to Samuel Huntington, 28 Nov., and n.12). His principal concerns as the year came to a close included British forces around New York City as well as those penetrating New York’s northern frontier; possible cooperation with French allies based in Rhode Island; and the problematic military situation in the southern states. Securing provisions and supplies for his own troops continued to be worrisome, and details related to the reorganization of the Continental army that would take effect on 1 Jan. 1781 demanded his attention (see Huntington to GW, 26 Oct. 1780, and n.1; see also General Orders, 1 Nov.).

GW’s aides-de-camp Tench Tilghman and David Humphreys primarily assisted with correspondence throughout this period. Aide-de-camp Alexander Hamilton contributed until he left headquarters for his wedding in Albany (see Hamilton to GW, 19 Dec., n.5). GW’s secretary Robert Hanson Harrison departed for Virginia after learning about his father’s death, and additional family complications prevented his return (see Harrison to GW, 28 Nov.). Aide-de-camp Richard Kidder Meade also traveled earlier in October to Virginia—to be married—and never resumed his duties (see Hamilton to Meade, March 1782, in Hamilton Papers description begins Harold C. Syrett et al., eds. The Papers of Alexander Hamilton. 27 vols. New York, 1961–87. description ends , 3:69–71). Maj. Caleb Gibbs, who commanded GW’s guards, sometimes addressed correspondence until the latter part of November 1780, when he apparently prepared to transfer to the 2d Massachusetts Regiment. Until his departure, Gibbs also handled the money for GW’s expenses (see General Orders, 15 Nov., source note). Lt. William Colfax replaced Gibbs as commander of GW’s guards. The men who provided clerical and administrative support were known as GW’s military “family” (see, for example, Philip Schuyler to GW, 31 Oct.–1 Nov. and 12 Nov.; William Fitzhugh to GW, 16 Nov.; and Lafayette to GW, 5 and 9 Dec., postscripts). For GW’s sense that he needed more secretarial help, see Document XI with The Aborted Attack on the Northern Approaches to New York City and the Feint on Staten Island, 9–24 Nov., editorial note.

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