George Washington Papers

To George Washington from John Buyers, 18 May 1780

Sunbury May 18th 1780

Sir

It is with much Reluctance That I trouble your Excellency, with anything of Complaint against any Officer under your Command; A Regard to my Future welfare however obliges me to lay before you, the inclosed Papers touching the Conduct of Col. Weltner, who has had, and still continues in Command of German Battalion in this County.

Col: Weltner may perhaps acquit himself well in a Subordinate Command or Station; But Subject as at Present he is, to no immediate Controul in the military Line, his Conduct is sufficiently alarming to every Person who is in the least degree obnoxious to his displeasure. I am, with the deepest Respect, your Excellencys most Obedt & most Hble Servt

Jno. Buyers

DLC: Papers of George Washington.

Enclosure

18 May 1780

To His Excellency George Washington Esquire Commander in chief, of the Forces, of the united States of America—The Memorial of the Subscriber, a Citizen of the Town of Sunbury, in the State of Pennsylvania, most respectfully sheweth

That your Memorialist, altho’ a private Citizen, readily received Two officers of the German Regiment, into his House the Begining of last Winter; some difference however arose Between him and them; A Captn Michl Buyar of said Regiment proceeded from abusive Language, to beat him in his own House, your Memorialist resisted, the other Officer interferred, and perhaps the Business, had thus ended, had not Col: Weltner Commandant of said Regimt with great wrath embarked in the Affair; He immediately Swore that the officers should leave my House; and that he would quarter half a Dozen of Soldiers the greatest Devils he had or could find in his Regiment upon me; I disbelieved this information, at First, But soon found it true—The Officers went away and a Party of armed Men approached my House demanding Quarters; Your Memorialist refused them entrance; & went to the Col’s. Quarters, to expostulate with him on his Conduct; The Soldiers likewise appeared; The Col: however in spite of entreaties; commanded them in the most absolute Manner to make their Quarters good In Consequence of which the best Room in my House was taken and occupied for some Time, some of the Soldiers however returned to their former Quarters, as liking a Stove Room best, the Weather being very Severe; The Col. finding this, ordered them back again. Your Memorialist by shutting himself and Family up in the back parts of his House, and avoiding all Intercourse with them, kept it out of their Power to render him any Damage, in any way save burning his House & this had like to have happened more than once by their bringing whole Rails into the Room & putting one End into the Fire—The ill Treatment of your Memorialist is only one Instance of the Irregularity of his Conduct: The Fences of the Citizens have been burnt by the Soldiers and the Stockades erected at great Expense for the Protection of the Town have been cut down and burned; notwithstanding a Piece of Excellent Timber, within Gunshot of the Town was taken for Firewood for his Regiment. It is likewise currently reported of him that he embezzled the publick Ammunition, selling it out for his private advantage. Your Memorialist has sufficient Experience of Col. Weltner, to dread his Revenge, as he knows him to be of a mean and Vindictive Temper; and as it is evident from his Conduct that neither Regards the Rights of Citizens nor the Laws of Property[.] Your Memorialist therefore most humbly prays that he may be removed from the Command of the military in these Parts, as neither yr Memorialist nor any other Person, who has been so unfortunate as to incur his Displeasure, can consider themselves Safe under his Command; as a Bad Man in Power will seldom be at a Loss either for Tools to execute his Will, or for False Witnesses, or Base Men to [   ] over his Conduct. and your Petitioner as in Duty bound will ever pray

Jno. Buyers

Enclosure

18 May 1780

Northumberland County ss.

John Buyers, the Subscriber to the foregoing Memorial being duely Sworn; on the holy Evangelist of Almighty God; being likewise of full age & a reputable Citizen of the Town of Sunbury deposeth that the Facts set forth in the foregoing Memorial touching his Treatment reced of Col: Weltner, are Strictly true; such Facts, as did not so immediately fall under his own observation, being first proven by the undeniable Testimony of Reputable Witnesses.

Jno. Buyers

Sworn & Subscribed the 18th of May 1780 Before David McKinney

Northumberland County ss.

William Maclay of the Town of Sunbury in the County aforesaid, being duly Sworn deposeth. That at his Table some time last Winter, when he endeavoured to settle a difference which had that day arose between John Buyers and one of the Officers that lodged with said Buyers, Col: Weltner Swore that the other Officer should come away, and that he would send him half a dozen of Soldiers the greatest Devils in his Regiment; a few days after a Party were actually quartered on said Buyers against his Will—This Deponent complained That the Soldiers burned the Neighbours Rails, Col. Weltner said he had ordered them to do so—This Deponent at another Time complained That the Soldiers cut down the Stockade at the Back of his House, Col: Weltner said they must do so, and he would repair it if necessary in the Spring; This however he refused to do; This Deponent gives it as Matter of Opinion, That there was no absolute necessity of committing such Waste, a very convenient and fine Peice of Timber having been taken for firewood for the Regiment and Hospital. The Damage done to the Stockade at this Deponents House, was such as rendered it Useless, upwards of fifty Peices of hewed & sawed Timber were used in repairing it, exclusive of the lining Peices—As to Col: Weltner’s selling amunition of which I am questioned—I have repeatedly seen him about weighing Powder and lead to Country People who brought him in Poultrey &ca. He at one Time desired me to Stop Twelve dollars for him, in my Paying of A Countryman for some Venison, adding he had given him ammunition to that amount, I did so and gave him the Money—I do not however say that the ammunition so sold belonged to the continent; I have seen Ammunition carried up into his Room, which I believed to be brought from the Magazine; But can say no further—Col: Weltner called on me, while I acted as purchasing Commissary, for the Payment of Fowls &ca which he had purchased (as he said) with Money for the use of his Table; I paid him his Acct taking his Receipt in the usual Form.

Wm Maclay

Sworn & subscribed 18th May 1780 Before David McKinney

Northumberland County ss

John Morrison of the Town of Sunbury in the County aforesaid, being duly Sworn deposeth That last Winter while the Guard was kept in a Part of the County Jail, upon the Guard complaining that they had no Firewood; He heard Col. Weltner give Orders to the Corporal of the Guard not only to burn the Stockade at the Jail But to burn every thing excepting the Houses in which People were living; That accordingly the Corporal began to cut down the Stockade and a Breach was made which [took] about thirty Peices of hewed Timber to repair it; This Deponent cannot say that the Guard cut every Peice down, But to them the aforesaid Orders, it was owing that any Breach was made in the said Stockade; That this Deponent assisted at repairing the Stockade which covered the Back of Wm Maclay’s House That so much of the said Stockade had been cut down as to render it totally useless as a defense, and That upward of Fifty Peices of hewed Timber were used in repairing it exclusive of the Peices made use of for lining.

John Morison

Sworn & Subscribed the 18th of May 1780 Before David McKinney

Northumberland County ss

William Dewart of the Town of Sunbury, in the County of aforesaid, being duely Sworn deposeth; That last Winter the Soldiers of the German Regiment begining to pull down his Fences and burn his Rails, he applyed to Col: Weltner, and the Col: told him he would order them to desist; The Soldiers however, continued to take his Rails, This Deponent apply’d to the Col: the second time the Col. then said he could not help it. That if he knew the Magistrates [Rails] he would burn them all first; He however promised that all the Fences should be repaired in the Spring: This However was not done by the Soldiers—This Deponent further declares that he was called on as an appraiser, to value some Timber which was found necessary to repair the Stockades in the said Town, The Timber was valued at £400:0:0; that the Timber so valued was not sufficient to repair the Damgaes, That about fifty Peices of hewed Timber were used at the Stockade at Wm Maclay’s House to make up the Breaches—that the Repairs were only a Single Row of Timber—whereas the old Stockade was double, so that near one hundred Peices of the old Stockade must have been cut down—This Deponent further gives his Opinion that there was no Occasion for such Waste as a very valuable and Convenient Peice of Timber Land within Gunshot of the Town, had been given up to the Soldiers for Firewood.

Wm Dewart

Sworn & Subscribed the 18th May 1780 Before David McKinney

Northumberland County ss

I David McKinney of Sunbury in the County aforesaid, being one of the Justices Duly appointed for the said County, do hereby certify That the aforesaid Deponents Viz. John Buyers Wm Maclay John Morrison and Wm Dewart are men of fair Character and independent Circumstances: and That the said John Buyers made solemn Oath to the Following Facts [viz.] That [   ] he offered the whole of another House as Quarters for the Soldiers, if wanted, That the said House so offered was in good sufficient and tenentable [Repair] That he made this offer to Col: Weltner to Col: Cooke the D.Q.M.G. and to John Neitzel his assistant—his Offer however was disregarded; from whence it is evident That Col: Weltners Conduct must have been directed by [Malice] in his treatment of the said Deponent; These Facts the Deponent declares were omitted in his Memorial only [thro] Haste and inattention. Given under my hand at Sunbury aforesaid the 18th day of May A.D. 1780

David McKinney

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