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took his chance of repayment from his country. His regiment
In correcting Gen. James Talmadge's history of this affair,
PEEKSKILL, Feb'y 28th, 1845.
Dear Colonel :- * * * * * * When I see you, I will relate to
Your father was an efficient agent in detecting the Spy, the particulars of which I have very frequently heard Gov. Clinton repeat. However, let this rest till I see you, when I will relate to you the particulars.
Yours, with much respect,
PIERRE VAN CORTLANDT.
The following is a copy of the original order, which enabled my father to procure the captured British uniforms for his newly raised regiment-Sihe Third Connecticut;Jand which causeel it to be known as the “Decoy Regiment":
HEADQUARTERS, June 28, 1777. Col. Webb has his Excellency's, General Washington's Orders, to appropriate so much of the Scarlet Cloathing, taken from the Enemy at Sea, as will be sufficient to cloath one Regiment. The said Cloathing, to be set apart for his Regt.
Thos. MIFFLEN, Q. M. G.
The close and very friendly personal relations which always existed between Gen. Washington and my father, from the time
he became a member of his staff in April, 1776—a mere boy-un-
At the time of my father's capture, he was not quite twenty-
After the battle of Trenton, Gen. Washington begged him to go to Connecticut and superintend the recruiting of his regiment. But he said, “No; not until you get safely into Winter quarters, which will be only after much hard fighting. I would sooner give up my regiment than abandon you now."
You will find allusion to this, in the letters congratulating him upon the laurels won at Trenton.
It was in the December following, he was taken prisoner; and during the two and a half years preceding, he had been wounded at Bunker Hill and at White Plains; had been the Aid of Gen. Putman and then of Gen. Washington; and had been actively engaged with his Chief, in every affair of the army; and was known to be a favorite at headquarters. Not yet twenty-four, it is not a matter of surprise, that he ventured to address to his old Chief the following letter.
z Folio a
Col. Sam'l B. Webb to Gen. Washington.
WETHERSFIELD IN CONNECTICUT,
December 29th, 1777. Before this, I suppose, your Excellency must have heard of our late descent to Long Island, and the objects General Pureony had in view, by ordering on the Troops. The detachment under my command, left Norwalk in four Transports, on the evening the 9th aftur instant, The weather proved very blustering; in consequence of
which we parted Company. On the morning of the 10th, at dawn of
copy. I had with me one Captain, my Adjutant, two
I should without loss of time, have waited in Person on your Excellency; but am unable to ride.* The particulars relative to the expedition, General Parsons told me, he would report to you. I
inform have now sent Mr. Gibbs (a volunteer of my Regiment), by whielt
hun I hope to know, whether Lt. Col. Campbell can be given in exchange for me. I confess from the letters which passed between your Excellency and General Howe, I have little reasons to flatter myself of its taking place; but knowing at the time they were writo wroti thens, Col. Campbell was one of the officers highest in Rank of any
in our possession, and since that, Major-General Prescott being iratudy Captured, I could not but flatter myself the objections were at an
end. Should it be otherwise, I must beg your Excellency to get ays/
Your Excellency's Most Obedt. &
Very IIumbl Servt
SAM'L B. WEBB.
* From his wound at the battle of Whiteplains; the ball which killed his horse, having passed through his leg.
who had, very naturally, presumed upon their personal relations,
Gen. Washington to Col. Webb. 2 Folio 3
VALLEY FORGE, Jan'y 8th, 1778. SIR: I was this Evening, favored with your Letter of the 29th Ulto. I had heard before, of your unfortunate expedition & captivity; and not without concern.
It would give me pleasure to render you any service in my power; but it is impossible for me to comply with you request, without violating the principles of Justice and incurring a charge of partiality.
You are sensible, that we have several officers now in captivity with the Enemy, of your Rank and of Lieut. Col. Campbell's Rank, who have been in this unhappy situation much longer than you: some taken when General Thomyson was defeated at the Three is Rivers early in 1775—others at Long Island, in August following —others at Fort Washington; and a further number at the Battle of German Town. These gentlemen, would surely, exclaim loudly against my conduct, and with reason, were any distinction to be s, made by my concurrence or authority, to their prejudice. So far as Exchanges have depended on me, or as they may rest with me, they have been, and ever will be conducted on one principle; to wit, to release those first, who were first captured, as far as circumstances of Rank would apply. There is no other rule by which equal and impartial justice can be done.
I know there have been some Exchanges contrary to this rule; but they were not made with my privity, consent or approbation. In a word, you may rest assured, whenever circumstances put it in my power to effect your Exchange, & that of all the officers and privates, under the Restrictions I have mentioned, there shall not
be a moment's delay on my party but on other terms or in a difRoman ferent order, you will find on reflection, I can never do it. Sup
pose yourself, for instance, an officer taken at any of the above
Perhaps on your return, you may have interest enough with
not do this on the principle of having an officer sent in on the like indulgence; the objections to an Enlargement on parole out of due course, in such case, being the same as to an Exchange.
I am, Dear Sir,
How characteristic was this of the man. He was not above reasoning with his boy-friend; but he taught him to know at once, that his case, in consequence of their past relations, must be held up to the army as an example of his justice, uninfluenced by any personal considerations.
As Commissioner for a general exchange of prisoners, my father spent most of the period for which he was a prisoner, at Wethersfield and Philadelphia and at the headquarters of our army; and when finally, his turn for exchange arrived, his old commander and friend, took an early opportunity to show, that his stern justice to his former favorite, was not dictated by any want of friendship or confidence. Accordingly, when La Fayette resigned the command of the Light Infantry of the army, Washington's pet corps, he, Washington, appointed my father to be La Fayette's successor.
Silas Deane, who was Chairman of the Committee of Safety for the Colony of Connecticut, appointed my father his private secretary; and it was in that capacity, that he accompanied his step-father to Philadelphia, at the opening of the Congress of 1774–5, where he first made the acquaintance of Washington. But the aspect of public affairs, grew more lowering; the probability of a rupture, daily increased; and my father, early in 1775, resigned his secretaryship and the charms of Philadelphia society, and returned to Wethersfield, to be nearer, what promised to become the scene of strife.
When the news of the battle of Lexington reached Wethersfield, my father at once volunteered as a private in Capt. Chester's Light Infantry Company, and marched for Boston.
Four days thereafter, while on the march, he was elected the First Lieutenant; and Capt. Chester being absent, he took command of the company. Shortly after its arrival at Cambridge, Capt. Chester