Front Page Titles (by Subject) TO THE PRESIDENT OF CONGRESS. - The Writings of George Washington, vol. IV (1776)
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TO THE PRESIDENT OF CONGRESS. - George Washington, The Writings of George Washington, vol. IV (1776) 
The Writings of George Washington, collected and edited by Worthington Chauncey Ford (New York and London: G. P. Putnam’s Sons, 1889). Vol. IV (1776).
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TO THE PRESIDENT OF CONGRESS.
Head Quarters, Heights of Haerlem, 8 October, 1776.
1 Since I had the honor of writing you yesterday I have been favored with a Letter from the Honble Council of Massachusetts bay, covering one from Richard Derby, Esq., a copy of which is herewith transmitted, as it contains intelligence of an important and interesting character. As an exchange of prisoners is about to take place, I am induced, from a question stated in a letter I received from Governor Trumbull this morning, to ask the opinion of Congress, in what manner the States that have had the care of them are to be reimbursed the expenses incurred on their account. My want of information in this instance, or whether any account is to be sent in with the prisoners, would not allow me to give him an answer, as nothing that I recollect has ever been said upon the subject. He also mentions another matter, namely, whether such privates as are mechanics, and others who may desire to remain with us, should be obliged to return.1 In respect to the latter, I conceive there can be no doubt of our being under a necessity of returning the whole, a proposition having been made on our part for a general exchange, and that agreed to; besides, the balance of prisoners is greatly against us; and I am informed it was particularly stipulated by General Montgomery, that all those that were taken in Canada should be exchanged whenever a cartel was settled for the purpose. Under these circumstances, I should suppose the several committees having the care of them should be instructed to make the most exact returns of the whole, however willing a part should be to continue with us. At the same time I should think it not improper to inform them of the reasons leading to the measure, and that they should be invited to escape afterwards, which, in all probability, they may effect without much difficulty if they are attached to us, extending their influence to many more, and bringing them away also.
The situation of our Affairs and the present establishment of the Army, requiring our most vigorous exertions to engage a New One, I presume it will be possible with money to pay the bounty lately resolved on to such men as will inlist. Prompt pay perhaps may have a happy effect and induce the continuance of some who are here, but without it I am certain that nothing can be done, nor have we time to lose in making the Experiment. But then it may be asked, who is to recruit or who can consider themselves as Officers for that purpose till the Conventions of the different States have made the appointments.
Yesterday afternoon the exchange between Lord Stirling and Governor Brown was carried into execution, and his Lordship is now here. He confirms the intelligence mentioned by Captain Souther, about the transports he met, by the arrival of the Daphne man-of-war (a twenty-gun ship) a few days ago, with twelve ships under her convoy, having light-horse on board. They sailed with about twenty in each, and lost about eighty in their passage, besides those in the vessel taken by Captain Souther. He further adds, that he had heard it acknowledged more than once, that, in the action of the 16th ultimo, the enemy had a hundred men killed, about sixty Highlanders, of the forty-second regiment, and forty of the light infantry. This confession, coming from themselves, we may reasonably conclude, did not exaggerate the number.
In pursuance of the Resolve which you were pleased to transmit me, I called upon the Members who concurred in the acquittal of McCumber to assign their reasons. Inclosed you have their answer, by which you will perceive the direction has given them great uneasiness, and from the information I have received, it has become a matter of much more general concern than could have been expected, in so much that I will take the liberty to advise that it may rest where it is, having heard that most of the Officers have become party to it, and consider that the Resolve materially affects the whole.
October 9th.—About eight o’clock this morning, two ships, of forty-four guns each, supposed to be the Roebuck and Phœnix, and a frigate of twenty guns, with three or four tenders, got under way from about Bloomingdale where they had been lying some time, and stood with an easy southerly breeze towards our chevaux-de-frise, which we hoped would have intercepted their passage while our batteries played upon them; but, to our surprise and mortification, they ran through without the least difficulty, and without receiving any apparent damage from our forts, though they kept up a heavy fire from both sides of the river. Their destination or views cannot be known with certainty; but most probably they are sent to stop the navigation, and cut off the supplies of boards, &c., which we should have received, and of which we are in great need. They are standing up, and I have despatched an express to the Convention of this State, that notice may be immediately communicated to General Clinton at the Highland fortifications, to put him on his guard in case they should have any designs against them, and that precautions may be taken to prevent the craft belonging to the river from falling into their hands.
I have the honor to be, &c.1
[1 ]Read in Congress October 11th.
[1 ]The Board of War reported: “That all prisoners captured by the army of the United States, whether mechanics or not, be included in the exchange to be made between General Washington and the enemy”; but Congress “postponed” the consideration.
[1 ]“The Commanding Officer of the Rangers having represented, that Soldiers are continually straggling down to Harlem, and other Places, frequently without Arms—and that when he has apprehended, and sent them to their regiments, no farther notice has been taken of them; as this is a plain breach of General Orders, the General hopes there is some mistake in the Matter; however to prevent it in future he now orders that no officer or soldier (Rangers excepted) go on any pretence beyond the lines, without leave from himself, a Major General, the Brigadier of the day, or the Adjutant General, in writing; unless either of those officers are with them in person. And in order to distinguish the Rangers, they are to wear something white round their arms. If any such straggler is found hereafter, he is to be sent to the quarter-guard of the regiment, tried by a Regimental Court Martial, and receive ten Lashes immediately.