Wednesday, February 20, 2013

February 23: Defections and Captures

Extract of a Letter from Morris-Town [Morristown, New Jersey] February 23 [1777].
   "The 20th Inst. four Hessian and two British soldiers came over to us.  Yesterday 12 Tories and one English Captain, were brought to Head-Quarters.  This morning we have received an account of 12 of the enemy's light horse being taken, by our brave and vigilant scouts."
   The Freeman's Journal, OR New-Hampshire Gazette (Portsmouth, NH), 8 March 1777

   In eighteenth-century correspondence, it was not uncommon to refer to refer to the current month as "Instant," with the number of the day accompanying the reference.  By the date of this letter, George Washington's Headquarters of the Continental Army were in Morristown, New Jersey.  The misconduct of the British and Hessian forces prompted the people of New Jersey to assist the Continental Army in driving the British from most of New Jersey by the middle of January 1777.
   An excellent way to encourage defections, like those of the four Hessians and two Brits mentioned in this letter, is to treat prisoners with kindness.     
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