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William Tudor to General Washington


[No. 1.]


August 23, 1775.

May it please your Excellency: At the time I had the honour of your Excellency' s appointing me to the office of Judge Advocate to the Army, my unacquaintedness with the nature of the department rendered me an incompetent judge of its duties. The experience I have since had convinces me that I am engaged in a service extensive, laborious and important. I must therefore beg, Sir, your indulgence while I mention some particulars which, I presume, will satisfy your Excellency that the conclusion I may deduce from them is not unreasonable.

I have your Excellency' s orders, through the medium of the Adjutant-General, to attend every General Court-Martial, both those of the line and each Brigade, throughout the Army, and to see that there is a fair copy of the entire proceedings in each case made out, to be reported to the Commander-in-Chief. The number of offences made cognizable by a General Court-Martial only, the large Army here, and the extent of the camp, (ten miles at least,) in each quarter of which my duty demands my attendance, unitedly render my station arduous and difficult. The number of trials which have been reported to your Excellency within six weeks past will, I believe, justify this assertion.

It is not only expected that I give the proper orders for procuring the evidence, and putting all matters in such a train that the Court may have nothing else to do than to hear the witnesses and form a judgment, but that I also analyze the evidence and state the questions that are involved in it for the opinion of the Court. But I mean not to detain your Excellency by a tedious detail. It is sufficient to acquaint you that I am obliged to act as Advocate, Register and Clerk, for a stipend of twenty dollars a month, without the least assistance or a single perquisite of office.

In the British Army General Courts-Martial sit only in capital cases, or for the trial of commissioned officers. The Judge Advocate there is allowed ten shillings sterling per day, besides drawing pay as an officer. This duty is easy, because the strict discipline maintained among regular troops make General Courts-Martial but rare.

Almost every day since my appointment, a General Court-Martial has set in one or other part of the camp. A Court at Roxbury adjourned for six days successively, because my duty would not permit me to leave Cambridge. This must frequently be the case while I am without an assistant. I will no longer trespass on your Excellency' s time, than to beg that a representation of this office may be made from the Commander-in-Chief to the honourable Continental Congress, who, I am informed, were entirely unacquainted with the business of this department, especially in an American Army. The information they may receive from your Excellency on this subject, will doubtless prevail with them to affix a salary something more adequate to the service. Should they not, I shall be under a necessity of begging your Excellency' s permission to resign an employment, the duties of which leave me without an hour to call my own, and the pay of which will not afford a maintenance.

I am, with profound respect, your Excellency' s most obedient humble servant, William Tudor.

His Excellency George Washington, Esq.