George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Major General Benjamin Lincoln, 25 January 1781

From Major General Benjamin Lincoln

Boston January 25th 1781

My dear General,

As General Knox, who well knows the state of our affairs here, will be with Your Excellency as early as this can reach you, I may omit many matters which otherwise I should think it my duty to mention.1

I am informed that Congress have acceded to a general exchange, and that it is left with Your Excellency to carry it into effect, at such time as you shall think proper.2

I know too well Your Excellency’s feelings for the distresses of those of our people who are in captivity, not to be convinced that the first proper moment will be seized to execute a measure, which will so effectually promote the happiness of many, who, it appears to me, have deserved every attention from their Country.

The enclosed is a List of a number of good Men (not in the line of the Army) who, before I left Charlestown, solicited my interest in procuring their exchange—I wish when an exchange shall take place that these persons may be subjects of it.3

I have no doubt but there are many other Citizens, who wish to be exchanged—if their names can be obtained I hope they will enjoy the same benefit. I am My dear General, with the greatest esteem, Your Excellency’s most obedient servant.

B. Lincoln

LS, DLC:GW; ADf, MHi: Lincoln Papers.

1GW had sent Knox to consult with the executives of the New England states (see GW to Knox, 7 Jan.; see also Knox to GW, 7 Feb.).

2GW had executed a limited exchange of prisoners of war (see GW to Samuel Huntington, 7 Nov. 1780). On 7 Nov., Congress had authorized GW to carry out a general exchange (see Huntington to GW, 12 Nov.). GW had entered into negotiations, but no agreement had been reached (see GW to Huntington, 8 Dec., and GW’s reply to Lincoln of 10 Feb. 1781).

3Lincoln enclosed a list with the names of twenty-nine men. One was described as “late Dy of Musters—taken as a Militia man”; two were “Volunteers in the advanced redoubt during the siege” of Charleston; four were “Merchants, and Inhabitants” of Charleston; four were simply described as being from Boston; and eighteen were “Volunteers in the Batteries” during the siege of Charleston (DLC:GW). For the siege of Charleston, see Duportail to GW, 17 May 1780.

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