George Washington Papers

General Orders, 24 December 1780

General Orders

[New Windsor] Sunday December 24th 1780

Parole Countersigns. ——

At a General court martial whereof Colonel H. Jackson was President held at West point the 16th instant Mr Benjamin Stevens issuing Commissary at Fishkill was tried for “Refusing to deliver provisions to Arch Leake waggoner of the Hospital on the order of the Steward of the Hospital at Fishkill on which he usually issued, because he the said Leake would not receipt in figures for said provision—and also for taking receipts in figures for provisions issued on orders for an indefinite quantity for the said Hospital.”

The court having considered the nature of the charge against Mr Stevens are of opinion that he is not censurable and do therefore Acquit him.1

The Commander in Chief approves the acquittal, but cannot however help remarking that if the order drawn upon Mr Stevens by Mr White the Steward of the Hospital2 was illegal he should have refused to answer it upon that account and not have insisted upon sending the hospital waggoner back for an order from Mr Hunt the Commissary3 except he would receipt in figures.

As this Mode if admitted in any cases whatever opens a door to Fraud the General takes this occasion of directing the Commissary General of issues to order his deputies to make it an invariable rule to give and take all Receipts with the specific quantities expressed at large in words and not figures.

Varick transcript, DLC:GW.

1In a deposition given in Litchfield County, Conn., on 5 July 1820, Benjamin Stevens (1754–1838) reported that he had enlisted as a private in a Connecticut regiment in February 1776 and “joined the northern Army in Canada at Montreal,” where “he was taken prisoner by the British & Savages.” Subsequently released, “he served until his time of Service expired” in February 1777. Stevens then became a commissary general of issues and was stationed at Fishkill, N.Y., between April 1780 and April 1781. He concluded his service at Hartford in August 1782 (DNA: RG 15, Revolutionary War Pension and Bounty-Land Warrant Application Files, 1800–1900).

2The hospital steward may have been Thomas White, who later served in the same capacity at a hospital established in Beverly Robinson’s house (see Saffron, Cochran description begins Morris H. Saffron. Surgeon to Washington: Dr. John Cochran, 1730-1807. New York, 1977. description ends , 206).

3Leake Hunt served as the assistant purveyor at Fishkill.

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