George Washington Papers

General Orders, 1 January 1781

General Orders

Head Quarters New Windsor Monday January 1st 1781.

Parole Countersigns [  ]

For the present the Massachusetts regiments are to be formed into three Brigades under the Command of Major General Howe.

The Regiments of the 1st 4th 7th and 10th Colonels are to compose the first or Glovers Brigade—The Regiments of the 2d 5th and 8th Colonels make the second or Patersons brigade and the 3d 6th and 9th will be the 3d brigade.1

The Connecticut Line and those of New Hampshire and Rhode Island are also to form three brigades under the command of Major General Parsons vizt:

The 1st 3d and 5th Regiments of Connecticut will form the first brigade of that State to be commanded by General Huntingdon and the 2d and 4th the second brigade of the State, the regiments of New Hampshire and Rhode Island are to form the other brigade.

Hazen’s regiment will be considered as a reserve and be un-annexed to any brigade at this time.

Major General Heath will command the whole of the above troops.

The noncommissioned officers and Matrosses of the Independent company of Artillery lately commanded by Captain Coren are to be added to and incorporated with the company commanded by Captain Porter now in the second regiment of artillery and the noncommissioned officers and matrosses of the company commanded by Captain Freeman are to be added to and incorporated with Captain Symond’s company in said regiment.2

Captain Porters and Symonds’ companies are to be levelled with the men of the two Companies which are incorporated with them and being raised by Pennsylvania are to be added to Colonel Procter’s regiment of Artillery.

The officers of the two Companies commanded by Captains Porter and Symonds are to be arranged in Colonel Procter’s regiment agreeable to the ranks they now hold.3

At a Court of enquiry ordered by Major General Heath the 27th of December 1780 in consequence of an order of His Excellency General Washington the 20th of the same month “To investigate the conduct of Lieutenant Colonel Antill on the day of his Captivity in August 1777 and to report concerning the same.”4

The Court after due consideration of the circumstances Report. “That Lieutenant Colonel Antill appears to have been captured while in the execution of his duty and that he is not Censurable in any part of his conduct but is deserving the Approbation of every good officer.”

The Commander in Chief is pleased to accept and Approve the Report.

Varick transcript, DLC:GW.

GW had established his winter headquarters at New Windsor, N.Y., in early December, and in January he continued to command the army from that location, about seven miles north of West Point. In the vicinity of that strategically important post he had stationed the Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Rhode Island regiments. The 2d Canadian Regiment guarded the supply post across the Hudson River at Fishkill, New York. The Pennsylvania and New Jersey regiments remained in northern New Jersey, the former near Morristown and the latter near Pompton. The New York brigade, with two regiments, was stationed near Albany. The Continental cavalry also remained in winter cantonments: the 2d Regiment in Massachusetts and the 4th Regiment in Pennsylvania. One Pennsylvania and one Virginia regiment, along with a three-company corps of Maryland troops and an independent Virginia company, were at Fort Pitt on the Pennsylvania frontier. The Continental artillery brigade was at New Windsor, except for the detachment manning the batteries at West Point.

Assistance with GW’s correspondence during this period came from his aides-de-camp Alexander Hamilton, David Humphreys, and Tench Tilghman. GW’s secretary Robert Hanson Harrison was on furlough at his home in Maryland attending to personal business (see Harrison to GW, 26 Feb.). On 16 Feb., Hamilton, in a testy verbal exchange, notified GW of his intent to resign as aide-de-camp (see the source note to the general orders of that date). Hamilton nevertheless remained through February and did not leave GW’s staff until late April (see Hamilton to GW, 27 April, DLC:GW). GW and his correspondents typically referred to these men as his family (see, for instance, GW to Rochambeau, 20 Jan.; GW to Steuben, 6 Feb.; GW to Duportail, 13 Feb.; and Lafayette to GW, 24 and 25 Feb.). Lt. William Colfax, who commanded GW’s guards, also helped with correspondence.

1The ordinal numbers of the colonels relate to seniority in the Massachusetts line (see William Heath to GW, this date, n.2).

2Jeremiah Freeman joined Capt. Bernard Roman’s independent company of Pennsylvania state artillery in December 1775 as a second lieutenant. He became a first lieutenant in August 1776. In January 1777, Freeman received a commission as a captain lieutenant in Capt. Gibbs Jones’s company of the 2d Continental Artillery Regiment. He left the army in January 1781.

3A new establishment of the Continental army took effect on this date (see General Orders, 1 Nov. 1780).

4See General Orders, 20 Dec. 1780, and n.1 to that document. The general orders for this date then identified Col. Rufus Putnam as president of Lt. Col. Edward Antill’s court of inquiry, and its members as Lt. Col. commandants Ebenezer Sproat and John Brooks, Lt. Col. Ezra Badlam, and Maj. John Porter.

Map 1. The Highlands included strategic West Point, King’s Ferry, and a supply depot at New Windsor. (Illustrated by Rick Britton. Copyright Rick Britton 2021)

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