May 11, 1776

george-washington-writing-at-his-desk-by-candlelight

In Orson Mill, North Carolina, the mill at Octon was commanded by Major William Davis with 90 men of North Carolina Regulars.  As the British approached, the regulars retreated.  The British plundered the homes as they retreated to their ships.

General Washington writes a lengthy letter to Congress, first discussing the manner and means in which he was attempting to punish the disgruntled in his army who have acted out while trying to strengthen, and not diminish, the army (original spellings retained):  “[A]m exceedingly glad that before the Resolution respecting Lt Colo. Ogden came to hand, I had ordered him to Join his Regiment, and had quelled a disagreable spirit both of mutiny and desertion which had taken place & seemed to be rising to a great degree in consequence of It—In order to effect It, I had the Regiment paraded, and ordering two more at the same time under Arms, convinced them of their error & Ill conduct, and Obtained a promise for their good behaviour in future—to such of them as had absconded, I gave pardons on their assurances to return to their duty again.  In my Letter of the  Instt which I had the honor of addressing you, I mentioned to Congress the refractory and mutinous conduct of Lieut. Grover of the 2d Regiment and laid before them a Copy of the proceedings of a Court Martial upon him & of his defence, with a view that such measures might be adopted as they shou’d think adequate to his crime. I wou’d now beg leave to inform them, that since then he has appeared sensible of his misconduct, and having made a written acknowledgement of his Offence & begged pardon for It, as by the Inclosed Copy will appear, I thought It best to release him from his confinement and have ordered him to Join his Regiment, which I hope will meet their approbation, and render any determination as to him unnecessary; Observing, at the same time that I have endeavoured, and I flatter myself not ineffectually, to support their authority & a due subordination in the Army, I have found It of importance and highly expedient to yeild many points in fact, without seeming to have done It, and this to avoid bringing on a too frequent discussion of matters which in a political view ought to be kept a little behind the Curtain, & not be made too much the subjects of disquisition. Time only can eradicate & overcome customs & prejudices of long standing—they must be got the better of by slow and gradual advances.”

General Washington also recommends raising companies of Germans to send among the Hessians fighting for Britain:  “I have not received further Intelligence of the German Troops since my Letter of the 7 Inst. covering Mr Cushings dispatches; but lest the account of their coming shou’d be true, may It not be advisable & good policy, to raise some Companies of our Germans to send among ’em when they arrive, for exciting a spirit of disaffection and desertion? If a few sensible, trusty fellows cou’d get with them, I shoud think they woud have great weight and influence with the common Soldiery, who certainly have no enmity towards us, having received no Injury, nor cause of Quarrel from us. the measure having occurred & appearing to me expedient, I thought It prudent to mention It for the consideration of Congress.”

Join us at Bow Tie Tours for Philadelphia’s Best Walking Tours.  To learn more about Washington fighting the Hessians, join us for the Washington’s Crossing Tour.  To learn more about George Washington, check out our Washington 101 series on chasingamericanhistory.com.

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