George Washington Papers

To George Washington from John Ross, 18 July 1780

Lancaster Joal 18 July 1780


Your Excellency upon perusal of the enclosed Representation, will I hope order my Release from a loathsome Joal confined unjustly as I think which I hope Your Excellency will be of the same way of thinking, and Order accordingly. Sir Your Excellencys most obedient Humble Servant

John Ross Lt 71 Regt Grenadr

I beg leave to inform Your Excellency, that the Commissary, has only just now indulged me with the use of Pen Ink & Paper, & that at the [interception] of Coll Johnson 17 Regt, desiring the Goaler to attend that I might not write any other Letter, except to Your Excellency.

Surely Your Excellency must view this Point of conduct as rather arbitrary & cruel, as I wished to write to New York to my Friends to Supply me with Money—Particularly as the Commisioners sent me a Message by a Brother Officer, that he would let me out of Joal upon application to him by Petition or Appeal.

Which I declined after his unjust Conduct—And I doubt not but Your Excellency knows, that this sort of Treatment to Officers & Men has been the Cause of violent Retaliation, on both Sides, how soon Exchanged, owing to the want of Humanity & Generosity of the Different Commissarys.

DLC: Papers of George Washington.


Purport of what passed between Mr Ross & Mr Atlee

Lancaster 14th July 1780

Lieut. Duncanson being call’d upon by Mr Atlee, as walking through the Street; was inform’d by him, that a Complaint was lodged against Mr Ross & wish’d he would be in the way when call’d upon. That Mr Ross in consequence of being sent for, attended; Mr Duncanson in Company.

On entering Mr Atlees house, Mr Wright a Countryman was call’d upon, & in his presence, Mr Atlee inform’d Mr Ross, that upon his going to the River by his permission to fish, he had acted in an improper unguarded manner, by [taulking] unbecoming a Prisoner to some Country people.

That upon Mr Ross’s endeavouring to vindicate himself by argueing the matter with Mr Wright, who he was told by Mr Atlee, was the person who lodged the Complaint; he was interrupted by Mr Atlee who told him he was not come there to argue matters.

That Mr Ross thereupon replied, that he wished to have the matter cleared up, for that "by God" he had not advertantly said any thing inconsistent.

Thereupon Mr Atlee said "Take care Sir, how you presume to Swear before me or I’ll soon [   ] you"— Mr Ross replied "Sir, I’m never asham’d to call upon my Master’s name".

In the course of the discourse, Mr Ross, haveing, whether inadvertently, or not, I cannot pretend to say, made use of the same expression "By God" Mr Atlee thereupon called upon [   ] Goaler (he being the person sent by Mr Atlee to demand Mr Ross’s [attendance] at his house) and ordered that he should take that Officer to Goal, there to be [confin’d] in a room by himself—Mr Ross accordingly retired.

The above account, is as nearly related, of what passed between Mr Ross and Mr Atlee as Lt Duncanson can recollect.

R Duncanson

Lieut.[   ] Qrs


To his Excellency George Washington &c. &c. &c.

Lancaster Joal 18th July 1780

The Representation of Lieut. Ross of his [   ] 71 Regt of Foot, Prisoner in the Joal of Lancaster.

That the Representator having been informed by Lieut. Duncanson of the 71 Regt Prisoner on Parole, on the 14 Instant, that Mr Atley Commissary of Prisoner, desired I would be in the way, when called upon which would happen how soon he had examined some Lt [   ] who had lodged a Complaint against the Representor.

[rest of letter illegible]

John Ross

Lt 71 Regt Grenadrs

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