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Proceedings on a Letter from General Washinton



James Prescott, Esq˙, brought down a Letter from his Excellency General Washington, relative to those Soldiers and Non-Commissioned Officers who absent themselves from duty, with a Letter from Mr˙ Nathaniel, Green, relative to one Thomas Cowden, of Fitchburgh, who has been soliciting a Commission in the Army.

Read, and Ordered, That Dr˙ Church, Colonel Freeman, and Mr˙ Devens, with such as the honourable Board shall join, be a Committee to consider the same, and report.

In Council, August 8, 1775: Read and concurred, and Walter Spooner and John Winthrop, Esqs˙, are joined.

Letter from General Washington


SIR: By the General Return made me for last week, I find there are great numbers of soldiers and non-commissioned officers who absent themselves from duly, the greatest part of whom, I have reason to believe, are at their respective homes in different parts of the country, some employed by their officers on their farms, and others drawing pay from the publick while they are working on their own plantations, or for hire. My utmost exertions have not been able to prevent this base and pernicious conduct. I must, therefore, beg the assistance of the General Court to co-operate with me in such measures as may remedy this mischief. I am of opinion, that it might be done, either wholly or in part, by the Committees in the several Towns making strict and impartial inquiry of such as are found absent from the Army; upon what account they have left it; by whose leave, and for what time; to require such as have no impediment of sickness, or other good reason, to return to their duty immediately, or, in case of failing, to send me an account of their names, and the Company and Regiment to which they belong, as soon as possible, that I may be able to make examples of such delinquents. I need not enlarge upon the ruinous consequences of suffering such infamous deserters and defrauders of the publick to go unnoticed or unpunished, nor use any arguments to induce the General Court to give it immediate attention. The necessity of the case does not permit me to doubt the continued exertions of that zeal which has distinguished the General Court upon less important occasions.

I have the honour to be, Sir, with much respect and regard, your most obedient humble servant,


To the Hon˙ Col˙ Otis, President of the Council of Massachusetts-Bay.

P˙ S˙ The enclosed respects a prisoner sent up from Prospect-Hill, who is sent herewith under guard for examination by the Committee appointed for that purpose.

G˙ W.