George Washington Papers

From George Washington to General Henry Clinton, 25 January 1781

To General Henry Clinton

Head Quarters [New Windsor] Janry 25. 1781


Major General Phillips in a Letter of the 23d of December transmits a list of Officers of the Convention Troops, whom he wishes to have sent into New York to be exchanged for an equivalent of our Officers in your hands—I am now authorised to comply with this proposal, and have dispatched an order accordingly for permitting the Gentlemen named to proceed to Elizabeth Town.1

General Phillips requests an unlimited permission to be given for sending in for exchange any Officers whom General Hamilton shall nominate, but as this mode would have some inconveniencies, though it will be attended with a little more delay, it appears preferable that the business should be transacted in its old channel.

As our Prisoners necessarily suffer for want of an Agent in your Lines, Mr John Franklin will shortly repair to New York in that capacity; unless the circumstances of his coming out should afford objections to his return. On a possibility of this, I suspend his going in, till I hear from Your Excellency.2

The very frequent complaints we receive of the extreme sufferings of the naval Prisoners have occasioned the enclosed Letter to the Commanding Officer of the fleet at New York—I request your influence in the affair.3 I shall be particularly happy if the proposal I now make is received in such a manner as either to disprove the complaints, or so far as they may be well founded to produce a remedy—I should with the greatest reluctance see any discussions concerning the treatment of Prisoners revived, or be necessitated to adopt any Measures with respect to those in our power, inconsistant with the tenderness due to the unfortunate.4 I am Sir Your most Obedient Servant

Go: Washington

LS, in David Humphreys’s writing, P.R.O.: 30/35, Carleton Papers; Df, DLC:GW; copy (extract), GyWoS; copy (extract), P.R.O.: C.O. 5/183; copy (extract), P.R.O.: W.O. 1/11; Varick transcript, DLC:GW. The extracts consist of the first two paragraphs.

1For the authorization, see Samuel Huntington to GW, 2 Jan., n.1. For the orders permitting the British officers to proceed to Elizabeth, N.J., see GW to the Officer Commanding at Charlottesville, Va., 31 January.

2Clinton denied John Franklin’s return (see GW to Franklin, 10 Jan., and the notes to that document).

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