Head Quarters Newburgh April 27. 1782.
Finding the Commissioners appointed to liquidate the accounts of Monies due for the maintenance of Prisoners, and make permanent provision for their future support, have seperated without accomplishing any thing; I think it highly expedient that measures should be adopted, at this moment, for taking the German Prisoners of War into our service: as this measure has been considerably agitated, I shall not amplify upon the justice and propriety of it, which to me seem very obvious. I am equally well persuaded of the policy there will be in augmenting every Company, with at least ten of these men, or more if they can be obtained: for I am convinced that, by such an incorporation, they will make exceedingly cheap & valuable Recruits; and being ablebodied & disciplined Men will give a strength & solidity to our Regts which they will not otherwise acquire this Campaign. All my accounts respecting the recruiting service are unfavorable; indeed, not a single Recruit has arrived (to my knowledge) from any State except Rhode Island, in consequence of the Requisition of Congress in December last.
Should the plan be adopted by Congress, the sooner it is carried into execution the better. In that case, I think, the Men ought to be recruited for the Continent, & not carried to the credit of the States quotas, with whose Lines they are to serve: for without making any alteration in the Establishment, they may be annexed to their Regt in such a manner, as that they can be formed in distinct Corps, whenever their fidelity and attachment shall be sufficiently evinced, if circumstances should require. All the matters of [bounty] & encouragement being arranged with the Financier, and the particulars of the scheme adjusted: As soon as provision shall be made for their subsistance on the journey, I will detach a Captian & Subaltern from every Regiment to receive & conduct them to the Army, so as that they may certainly join the respective Regts at farthest by the first of June. In the interim, I would beg leave to propose (lest the Enemy should attempt to counteract the design) that the business should be kept secret, until it is ripe for execution, & then be negociated by some Gentleman of address appointed for the purpose—I request an answer as speedily as possible, and have the honor to be your Most Obedt Servant
P.S. I am just favored with your Letters of the 20th & 23d Inst. I think it would be well to permit such of the Prisoners mentioned by you, to return to their Corps as can procure testimonials in their favor: I submit the matter to your discretion.
DNA: Item 149, Letters and Reports from Benjamin Lincoln, Secretary at War, PCC—Papers of the Continental Congress.