Head Quarters, July 19th 1780.
I have the honor to inclose to Your Excellency a Report concerning the Situation of the Troops of Convention in Virginia, not doubting but it will attract your attention and procure them redress.
You cannot but be informed, Sir, that our conduct towards your Prisoners here is humane and liberal, and I am persuaded your wish must be to maintain this System of Benevolence towards Men who have the misfortune of enduring Captivity. I have the honor to be Your Excellency’s Most obedient and Most humble Servt
DLC: Papers of George Washington.
July 12th 1780
Particulars respecting the present situation of the Troops of Convention as communicated by Mr Hoaksley Waggon Master General to the Northern Army.
Mr Hoaksley left Charlotteville on the 10th of last month; he mentions that the Troops of Convention have suffered and do continue to suffer great distress on Account of the Scarcity of Provisions, there being at least, as Mr Clarke the Assistant Commissary General informed him previous to his departure, Forty days Meat due the Troops; they are supplied with Indian Meal at a bout 12 Ounces each Man—Some little time before Mr Hoaksley left the Troops, the American Commissaries procured a quantity of Salt fish which was served out to them daily, but upon the representation of our Chief Surgeon that it would be attended with bad consequences to their healthes, The American Commanding Officer was induced to consent that two days in the week only should be alloted for Salt Fish. Small quantities of Beef and Pork had been occasionally served out to the Troops but great Complaints were made on account of the bad qualities of both.
Taken from Mr Hoaksley’s relation as verbally delivered by him.
Secrety to M.G. Phillips
Denyses on Long Island July 12th 1780
I have the honour to Report to Your Excellency the Arrival from Virginia of Mr Hoaksley Waggon Master General, belonging to the Troops of Convention. This Gentleman was exchanged during the meeting of the Commissioners at Amboy.
I inclose to you, Sir, the Report made to me by Mr Hoaksley of the present situation of the Troops of Convention which Report is confirmed by letters I have received from Brigadier Generals Spaecht and Hamilton with some small variation as to the number of days wherein Meat has not been delivered to the Troops and the addition of a failure of flour and Meal for between thirty and forty days.
It is my duty, Sir, most respectfully to represent to Your Excellency the very particular state of the Troops of Convention under the Reports made to me of their Situation, not only as it stands at present, but under the greatest apprehensions that their distresses will considerably increase except some means are fallen upon to supply the deficiencies in provisions for them, which has occasionally been the case in Virginia, whether arising from want of method, Carelessness, ignorance, or premeditated design I cannot pretend to say.
Such severities and hardships upon the Troops of Convention will force them to disperse and desert, and in doing so quit the abiding by the Treaty of Saratoga; which the Americans perhaps wish to have dissolved.
By thus starving as it were the Troops of Convention they, by that means, are driven to seek refuge in the Country or by deserting to become prisoners of War under the supposition that, in detached and scattered parties, they may be able to procure provisions, which seems to be denied them in a collected Body.
I will not presume to offer any thing more to Your Excellency’s consideration than whether it may not be eligible to call upon General Washington for some explanation upon so serious a matter, wherein a difference of conduct betwixt the treatment of American Prisoners of War and the Troops of Convention will so evidently appear.
I will not take up more of Your Excellency’s time than to observe that the Evil is of so severe a nature as to require immediate redress, the Weight of it growing daily heavier and will increase so enormously towards the Winter as to be scarcely equal to a Remedy. I have the honour to be &c. &c. &c.