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Minutes of a Conference with the General by a Committe of Conference

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MINUTES OF A CONFERENCE WITH THE GENERAL BY A COMITTEE OF CONFERENCE.

October 23, 1775.

The Delegates now proceeded to confer with General Washington, as well on sundry matters mentioned in his letters to the Congress, upon which no order had been made, as also upon other matters occurring in the course of this business, viz:

1st. In the new establishment of the Army, should the General Officers be allowed Regiments, and the Field-Officers Companies?

Agreed in the negative unanimously.

2d. The affairs of the Hospital require a Director-General, if Doctor Church is unworthy of continuing in that office. Lieutenant-Colonel Hand, late a Surgeon in the Army, and Doctor Foster, are the only two who have made application for the office to the General.

Agreed, That this he referred wholly to the Congress.

3d. In what light are Vessels, which are made captures of, with their Cargoes, to he considered? that is, what part is to be assigned the captors, in the pay of the Continent, and where Vessels are fitted out at the publick expense, and how is the residue of the Cargo and Vessel to be disposed of?

The instructions given by the General, to the Armed Vessels now out, being considered, were approved, except that one-third of the whole capture be allowed the Officers and men, without any reserve.

4th. What is to be done with Prisoners taken in transports by Vessels, either in the Continental pay or others? Are they to be detained as Prisoners, or released? If the former, what distinctions are to be made between those taken by the Continental Vessels and others? in respect to the General' s cognizance of them is meant.

Agreed, That all persons taken in arms, on board any prize, be deemed Prisoners, at the disposal of the General, as well such prizes as are taken by Vessels fitted out in the pay of the Continent, as others. That all Vessels, employed merely as transports, and unarmed, with their crews, be set at liberty, upon giving security to return to Europe; but that this indulgence be not extended longer than to the 1st of April next.

5th. In what manner are Prisoners to be treated, what allowance made them, and how are they to be clothed?

Agreed, That they be treated as Prisoners of War, but with humanity, and the allowance of provisions to be the rations of the Army; that the Officers, being in pay, should supply themselves with clothes, their bills to be taken therefor; the Soldiers furnished as they now are.

6th. Suppose Troops should be landed at New-York, is it expected that any part of the Army before Boston be detached while the Ministerial Troops remain there?

Agreed, That the number of men in the new Army being calculated to oppose the Army at Boston, it is not expected that the General should detach any part of it to New-York or elsewhere, unless it appears to him necessary so to do for the common safety.

7th. Ought not Negroes to be excluded from the new enlistment, especially such as are slaves? all were thought improper by the Council of Officers.

Agreed, That they be rejected altogether.

8th. How often should the Troops be paid? The General Officers were divided upon this point; some were for a payment per month, others every three months.

Agreed, That they be paid monthly.

9th. Are the Rations which have been allowed the Officers, and have issued, (an account thereof given to the Congress,and now laid before the Committee,) agreeable?

Agreed, That the present allowance be continued, as being usual and necessary.

10th. Is it advisable to propose an exchange of Prisoners? Should any of the Officers and Soldiers in the Army or Navy, now in our power, be given up for any except the Officers and Soldiers of the American Army?

Agreed, That an exchange will be proper — Citizens for

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Citizens, Officers for Officers of equal rank, and Soldiers for Soldiers.

11th. A proposition has been made in behalf of Ensign Moland, to go and reside among his friends in Pennsylvania, giving his parole; would this be disagreeable?

Agreed, That under all circumstances it is best he should remain where he is.

12th. Artificers of different sorts have been employed on the best terms they could be got, but may nevertheless appear high, none having less than one Shilling extraordinary for every day they work; some have four Pounds ten Shillings per month, and with great difficulty got on these terms. Is this agreeable?

Agreed, That it is, and that the General go on upon the present agreement, as being the best that can probably be made.

13th. The Rifle Companies have exceeded their establishment in point of numbers, but have nevertheless been paid, as they had no more Officers than were allowed by Congress. Is this right?

Agreed, That the General pick out from each Company such as are not marksmen, and dismiss them in such manner as will be safest, with an allowance of pay to go home, if they do not choose to enlist into other corps; and, in the mean time, that all receive their pay.

14th. Very unhappy disputes prevailed in the Regiment of Artillery. Colonel Gridley is become very obnoxious to that corps, and the General is informed that he will prove the destruction of the Regiment, if continued therein. What is to be done in this case?

Agreed, That as all Officers must be approved by the General, if it shall appear, in forming a new Army, that the difference is irreconcileable, Colonel Gridley be dismissed in some honourable way; and that the half pay which he renounced, by entering into the American Army, ought to be compensated to him.

15th. Artillery of different kinds will be wanted. How is it to be got, and where?

Agreed, That what can be spared from New-York and Crown Point be procured.

16th. Engineers are also much wanted. Where can they be got?

Agreed, To recommend to the Congress Henry Knox, Esq˙, and Lieutenant-Colonel Putnam, who have skill in this branch, as Assistant Engineers, with suitable pay, and rank as Lieutenant-Colonels; the present pay of Assistant Engineers being deemed too small.

17th. Several Indian Chiefs of the St˙ Fran├žois, Penobscot, Stockbridge, and St˙ John' s Tribes, have been to offer their services, and told they would be called for when wanted, and dismissed with presents. Ought they to be called, if a necessity for them should appear, and is the giving them presents proper?

Agreed, That these Indians, or others, may be called on in case of real necessity, and that the giving them presents is both suitable and proper.

18th. Would it not be advisable to have Expresses posted along the roads, at different distances, (persons of character,) for the purpose of conveying early and frequent intelligence?

Agreed, That such a regulation is highly necessary, but that the mode of carrying it into execution be left to the Congress.

19th. Lead and Flints are much wanted. Where and in what quantities can they be had?

Agreed, That as much Lead as can be spared from the Northern Department, and is wanted here, should be sent down from Ticonderoga, and all other supplies of these articles attended to.

20th. Several issuing Commissaries and Clerks are necessarily employed under the Commissary-General, for which no provision is made. Several Assistant Quartermasters are also employed, in order to discharge that duty. A Clerk is and always has been found necessary to assist in the office of the Adjutant-General. What pay should be allowed them?

The Commissary being sick, and unable to explain the duty of those Commissaries, Clerks, &c˙, Agreed, That he draw up a Memorial to the Congress, stating the ranks, duties, &tc˙, of the several officers under him; that the

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Quartermaster-General do the same, to enable the Congress to fix the proportion of pay to be allowed them. That these Memorials be first shown to the General, and by him transmitted to the Congress.

21st. Six Vessels, armed, are now fitted out and fitting, upon the best terms, to intercept the enemy' s supplies. Will this be agreeable to the Congress?

Agreed, That the Committee approve of the scheme, and will recommend it to the Congress.

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