. On 16 Jan. Congress had appointed a committee of seven members, Samuel Chase chairman,
“to enquire into the conduct of the British and Hessian generals and officers towards
the officers, soldiers and mariners in the service of the United States, and any other
persons, inhabitants of these States, in their possession, as prisoners of war, or
otherwise, and also into the conduct of the said generals and officers, and the troops
under their command, towards the subjects of these States and their property, more
especially of the States of New York and New Jersey” (
, 7:42–43). The committee acted energetically in collecting evidence and began its
report, which was read in Congress on 18 April, as follows:
“That, in every place where the enemy has been, there are heavy complaints of oppression,
injury, and insult, suffered by the inhabitants. . . . The committee found these complaints
so greatly diversified, that, as it was impossible to enumerate them, so it appeared
exceedingly difficult to give a distinct and comprehensive view of them, or such an
account, as would not, if published, appear extremely defective, when read by the
unhappy sufferers, or the country in general.
“In order, however, in some degree, to answer the design of their appointment, they
determined to divide the object of their enquiry into four parts: First, The wanton
and oppressive devastation of the country, and destruction of property: Second, the
inhuman treatment of those who were so unhappy as to become prisoners: Third, The
savage butchery of many who had submitted or were incapable of resistance: Fourth,
The lust and brutality of the soldiers in abusing of women.
“They will, therefore, now briefly state, what they found to be the truth upon each
of these heads separately, and subjoin to the whole, affidavits and other evidence
to support their assertions” (same
, p. 276–277).
Congress immediately accepted the report and ordered it published, “with the affidavits.”
The Pennsylvania Evening Post
of 24 April devoted its entire front page to the report and continued the supporting
affidavits in its issues of 26 and 29 April and 3 May.
a copy of the issue of 26 April with the present letter, and a copy of that of 3
May with his letter of 4 May
, below. On the following 19 July Congress ordered the committee to publish the report
and affidavits as a pamphlet, “and that 4,000 copies in English, and 2,000 in German,
be struck off and distributed through the several States” (same
, 8:565). It is very doubtful if this was done since no copy of a pamphlet printing
has been found.