George Washington Papers

To George Washington from John Covenhoven, 14 April 1782

Monmouth April [14] 1782.

The inhabitants of the county of Monmouth being assembled on account of the horrid and almost unparalleled murder of Captain Joshua Huddy, by the Refugees from New York, and as we presume by the approbation, if not by the express command, of the British Commander in Chief, Sir Henry Clinton, hold it as our indispensable duty, as well to the United States in general, as ourselves in particular, to shew to Your Excellency, that the aforesaid Captain Joshua Huddy, late commanding the Post at Toms-river, was after a very brave and gallant defence made a prisoner of war, together with fifteen of his men, by a party of Refugees from New York, on Sunday the twenty fourth of March last past—That five of the said Captain Huddy’s men, were most inhumanly murdered after his surrender—That the next day at night, to wit, on monday the twenty fifth of march aforesaid, the said Captain Huddy, and the other prisoners, who had been spared from the Bayonets, arrived at New York, and were lodged in the main-Guard during that night That on tuesday morning the twenty sixth of the same month, the said Captain Huddy was removed from the main-Guard, to the Sugar-house, where he was kept close confined, untill removed from thence to the provost-Guard, on monday the first day of April instant, where he the said Captain Huddy was closely confined untill monday, the eighth of April instant, when the said Captain Huddy, with two other prisoners, was removed from the Provost Gaol in New York, on board a Stoop, then lying at New York dock—was put in the hold of the Sloop aforesaid in irons—and then he the said Captain Huddy was told, that he was ordered to be hanged; although the said Captain Huddy had never been charged, or brought to any kind of triyal—That the said Captain Huddy demanded to know, upon what charge he was to be hanged That a Refugee by the name of John Tilton, then told him, that he (the said Captain Huddy meaning) was to be hanged, for that he (Captain Huddy meaning) had taken a certain Refugee by the name of Philip White, and that he, (the said Captain Huddy meaning) had after carrying him the aforesaid Philip White five or six miles, cut off his the aforesaid Philip Whites arms, broke both his Legs, pulled out one of his eyes, and most cruelly murdered him the aforesaid Philip White, and further said, that he the aforesaid Captain Huddy, was ordered to be hanged for the murder aforesaid—That Captain Huddy replied, that he never had taken the aforesaid Philip White a prisoner, and further said, that he the aforesaid Philip White was killed after he the said Captain Huddy was taken prisoner himself, and was closely confined at New York, at the time the said Philip was killed. Which in fact and in truth was exactly as the said Captain Huddy had related; for he the aforesaid Philip White, was in New York on Wednesday the twenty seventh of march last past, and did on the night of that day, sail from New-York to Sandy-Hook, where he lay untill friday the twenty ninth of march, that late in the same night he, in company with Aaron White, John Fennimore—Negro Moses—John Worthly and one Isaac all—Refugees, weighed anchor from Sandy-hook aforesaid, and ran down the Long Branch in the township of Shrewsbury—That he the said Philip White (so as aforesaid mentioned to have been killed by the said Captain Huddy,) and the said Negro Moses landed on Long-Branch in Shrewsbury aforesaid, on Saturday morning the thirtieth of March, he the said Joshua Huddy being then a close Prisoner in the Sugar house at New York—That he the said Philip White was taken a prisoner on the same thirtieth day of March in the afternoon—and as a guard was conducting him the said Philip White to Gaol, the said Philip in attempting to make his Escape, was killed by his Guard.

That on Friday the twelfth instant, a party of Refugees, said to have been commanded by a Captain Richard Lippingcott, brought the said Captain Huddy over to the High-Lands of Middletown, and hanged him at ten OClock in the forenoon of the same day, and left him hanging untill four O’Clock in the afternoon, with the paper hereunto annexed, pinned upon his Breast—at which time a party of the Inhabitants having been informed of the cruel murder, went to the place of his execution, and cut the unhappy Victim from the Gallows—These being a State of indubitable facts, fully proven We do, as of right we may, look up to Your Excellency, as the Person in whom the sole power of avenging our wrongs is lodged, and who has full and ample authority, to bring a British officer of the same rank to a similar end—for what man after this instance of the most unjust, and cruel murder, will presume to say, that any officer, or citizen, whom the chance of war may put into the hands of the enemy, will not suffer the same ignominious death on some such similar and groundless pretence—And We do with the fullest assurance, rely upon receiving effectual support from Your Excellency, Because, First—The act of hanging any person without any, even a pretended tryal, is in itself not only disallowed by all civilized people, but it is considered as barbarous in the extream, and most certainly demands redress—Secondly—Because the Law of nature, and of Nations, points to Retalliation, as the only measure which can in such cases give any degree of security that the [practice] shall not become general—Thirdly—because the Honorable the Continental Congress, did on the thirtyeth day of October one thousand seven hundred and seventy eight, resolve in the following words.

"We therefore, the Congress of the United States of America Do solemnly declare and proclaim, that [if]our enemies presume to execute their threats, or persist in their present career of barbarity, we will take such exemplary vengeance as shall deter others from a like conduct—We appeal to that God who searcheth the heart of men, for the rectitude of our [intentions: and in] his holy presence, declare, that as we are not moved by any light, and hasty suggestions of anger, or revenge, so through every possible change of fortune, we will adhere to this our determination"—Fourthly—Because the minds of the [people] are justly irritated, and if they have not compensation through a [public] channel, they may in vindicating themselves, open to view a [   ] which humanity itself may shudder.

Samuel Forman

John Covenhoven

Thos Seabrook

Peter Forman

Richd Cox

Joseph Stillwell

Barns Smock

John Schanck

Wm Willcocks

Asher Holmes

Elisha Walton

Stephen Fleming

John Smock

Thomas Chadwick

DLC: Papers of George Washington.

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