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Minutes of a conference, held by the delegates of the honble Continental Congress with General Washington, 18-22 October 1775

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Minutes of a Conference, held by the Delegates
of the honble Continental Congress with
General Washington
October 18th 1775
[This page is blank.]

Minutes of a Conference of the Delegates of the
honble Continental Congress, the Deputy Governours of Con
necticut and Rhode Island, the Committee of Council of
Massachusetts Bay, with General Washington, begun at
Head Quarters, Cambridge, October 18th 1775, and continued
to the 22d of the same month.

Present his Excellency General Washington
The Honble Deputy Governor Griswold
Nathaniel Wales Esqr
} Connecticut
The Honble Deputy Govr Coooke -- Rhode Island
The Hon. Thomas Lynch
Dr. Benj: Franklin
Col. Ben: Harrison
} Delegates from
Congress
The Hon. James: Bowdoin
Col. Otis
William Sever
Walter Spooner
} Committee of
of Council of
Massachusetts Bay.

The credentials of the several Members of this Conference
for Connecticut and Massachusetts Bay, were then read.

The President of the provincial
Convention of New-Hampshire, not yet attending, General

Sullivan was desired to attend this Conference, and took
his Place accordingly.

The Members of the Conference then
proceeded on the Instructions from the Congress, which were
read thro', and then separately -- and it was considered

First -- To cause proper Methods to be taken for conti
nuing the Connecticut Troops, now near Boston, in the
Continental Service, upon the same Terms, as they are at
present, until the last Day of December next.

Resolved, that it is the opinion of the Mem
bers of this Conference, that the General immediately direct
the Field Officers of the Connecticut Troops, that they consult
with their Inferiour Officers and Men, and endeavour to learn,
what Number of them will continue in the Service to the
Last Day of December next, upon the present Terms, & that, as
soon as possible.

The third Instruction was then read by Paragraphs,
containing the following Articles -- to wit -- First what Number
of Men, the new Army before Boston, should consist of?

The Committee, having been informed, that
this Question had been lately agitated in the Council of
General Officers, desired the Result might be communicated;
by which it appears, that it was their unanimous opinion,
that the new Army, intended to lay before Boston, should not
consist of less than 20,372 Men. In which Opinion on a
consideration of all Circumstances, this Committee unani-
mously concurs.

2d What should be the Pay of the Officers & Privates; that of some
of the former in the present Army being, it is apprehended
too low, and that of the latter too high?

That of the Privates: unanimously agreed, cannot
be reduced, and agreed by a Majority, that raising the Pay of
the Officers would be inconvenient, & improper -- It was also
unanimously agreed, that under the present Circumstances the
Proposition of lowering the Pay of the Troops, would be attended
with dangerous consequences.

October 19th 1775.

The Members of the Committee to confer with General
Washington met.

Present, as yesterday.

Matthew Thornton Esqr, President of the New Hampshire
Convention, attending, took his Seat this Day.

1. It was proposed for consideration, what Number each
Company, and how many Companies each Regiment should
contain?

Agreed unanimously, that each Regiment consist of
728 Men, (including officers) that it be divided into Eight
Companies, each Company to consist of one Captain, 2
Lieutenants, one Ensign, 4 Serjeants, 4 Corporals, 2 Drums
or Fifes, 76 Privates.

2. Of what Kind and Quality of Provisions a Ration
should consist?

Resolved, that it be, as follows:

One Pound of Beef, or 3/4lb Pork, or one Pound of Salt Fish
One Pound of Bread or Flour p Diem.
Three Pints of Pease or Beans p Week, or Vegetables, equi
valent at 6s p Bushel for Pease and Beans.
One Pint of Milk p Man p Day, or at the Rate of 1d p Pint.
One half Pint of Rice, or one Pint of Indian Meal
p Man p Week.
One Quart of Spruce Beer, or Cyder p Man p Day, or
9 Gallons of Molasses p company of 100 Men p Week
Three Pounds of Candles to 100 Men p Week for Guards &c
Twenty four lb of soft soap, or 8lb hard soap for 100
Men p Week.

3 What is the best Method of providing Arms for the
Troops, to be engaged in the new Army?

Agreed, that it be recommended to the several Assemblies
or Conventions of the respective Colonies, to set & keep then
several Gunsmiths at Work, to manufacture good Firelocks
with Bayonets -- each Firelock to be made with a good Brin
dle Lock -- 3/4 of an Inch in the Bone, and of good substance
at the Breech -- the Barrel to be three feet, 8 Inches in Length,
and a Bayonet of 18 Inches in the Blade -- with a Steel Ram
rod -- the upper Loop to be trumpet-mouth'd -- The Price to
be fixed, by the Assembly, or Convention, or Committee of

Safety of each Colony. And to import all, that can be
procured.

Also, that the good Arms of all such Soldiers, as
leave the Service, be retained on a Valuation, made of them.

Friday October 20th 1775.

The Committee met, present as before.

It was now proposed to the consideration of the
Members, what will be the best Method of providing Cloathing
for the Troops, which are to compose the new Army.

Agreed, that the Cloathing be provided by the Continent, & paid
for by Stoppages out of the Soldiers' Wages at 20s per month;
that as much as possible of the Cloth for this Purpose be
dyed brown, and the Distinctions of Regiments made in the
Facings.

Also that a Man, who brings a good new Blanket
into the Camp, should be allowed two Dollars therefor, & take
it away with him at the End of the Campaign.

2d. What is the best Method of getting Provisions for the
Army?

Agreed, that the best Method of procuring Salt Provisions
will be, to drive the Cattle and Hogs at proper Seasons to
the Camp, there to be cured, and that the New-England Colo-
nies can fully supply the Army, with these Articles.

That in the Article of Flour and Bread, the Com
misary proceed in the Way he has done for some Time

past, that appearing to be both safe and frugal.

3. By whom the Officers should be chosen and recommended,
and how the best Officers and Men, in the present Army, may
be engaged for the next making a complete Arrangement
of the whole?

Agreed, that such Officers, as have served in the pre
sent Army to Approbation, and are willing to stay, be pre
ferred; if there are more of these, then are necessary for the
Army, the General to distinguish such, as he deems best
qualified.

Agreed, upon a Representation from the General,
that the Committee recommend to the Continental Con-
gress, that proper Authority may be given him to impress
Carriages, Vessels, Horses, and other Things, necessary for
the Transportation, or March of the Army, or any Part of it;
or on any other Emergency: and that this Power may be
deputed in Writing, under the Hand of the General, to the
Quarter Master General, or to any [illegible] inferiour Officers,
who are to be accountable for any Abuse thereof.

Octr. 21. 1775.

The Members of the Conference met, as before, except
General Sullivan.

If appearing, on a full Discussion and
Consideration of all Circumstances, that any Attempt to
reduce the present Pay, would probably prevent the Soldiers
reinlisting, and that the Advancement of the Season does not

admit of any Delay in forming a new Army. Agreed, that it
be proposed to the Officers, now serving in the present Army,
that they signify in Writing, as soon as possible, which of them
will continue to serve, and defend their country, and which
of them will retire. And, that such Officers, as propose to
continue in the Service, and are approved by the General,
proceed to inlist their Men into the continental Service, upon
the same Pay and Allowance of Provisions, as is now given. --
The Service to continue to the last Day of December 1776 --
subject to be discharged at any Time by the Continental Con
gress, as has been heretofore practised in the like Cases.

Agreed, that, if upon Trial it should
appear, that the Number of 20,372 Men, before resolved
on, cannot be raised out of the present Army: that then the
Officers, appointed for the New Army, recruit their several
Regiments and Companies to their full complament.
And in Case, the Necessity of the Service should require
it, the General be impowered to call in the Minute
Men, or Militia, from this, or the neighbouring Colonies,
according to the Nature and Exigence of the Service.

The Rules, and Regulations of the Con
tinental Army, were then taken under Consideration, and
the following Alterations proposed:

1 All Persons, convicted of holding an unwarrantable
correspondence with, or giving Intelligence to, the Enemy,
shall suffer Death, or such other Punishment, as a General
Court Martial shall think proper.

October 22d. 1775.

The Members of the Conference met.

Present, as yesterday.

The Rules, and Articles of the Continental Army, were
again considered -- Agreed

That it be recommended to the several Legislatures of
the Colonies, or Conventions, to enact some Law, or pass
some ordinance, inflicting the following Punishment on
Persons, harbouring Deserters, knowing them to be such:
viz: a Fine upon all such Offenders, not less than
30, or more than 50, Dollars -- And in Case of Inability
to pay the Fine, to be punished with Whipping, not excee
ding 39 Lashes for each Offence.

That any Person, who shall
apprehend a Deserter, and bring him to the Regiment,
to which he belongs, upon a certificate thereof by the Colo
nel, or Commanding Officer of such Regiment, be inti-
tled to receive 5 Dollars, from the Continerntal Pay-Mas
ter General; which is to be deducted out of the Pay of
such Soldier.

2d. That all commissioned Officers, found guilty
by a General Court Martial, of any Fraud, or [illegible]
[illegible] Embezzlement, shall forfeit all his Pay, be ipso
facto cashiered, and deemed unfit for farther Service,
as an Officer.

3d. That all non Commissioned Officers, or Soldiers, convic
ted before a Regimental Court Martial, of stealing, em
bezzling, or destroying Ammunition, Provisions Tools, or any
Thing, belonging to the publick Stores, (if a non commissioned
Officer) to be reduced to the Ranks, and punished with
Whipping, not less than 15, nor more than 39 Lashes, at
the Discretion of the Court Martial; if a private Sol
dier, with the same corporal Punishment.

That it be recommended to the
several Legislatures of the Colonies, to impower the
Commander in Chief, or the Officer, commanding a
Detachment, or Out-Post, to administer an Oath, & swear
any Person, or Persons, to the Truth of any Information
or Intelligence, or any other matter, relative to the publick
Service.

That in the Punishment of cashiering an officer
for Cowardice, or Fraud, it be added, that the Crime, Name,
Place of Abode, and Punishment of the Delinquent be
[illegible] published in the News-Papers, in and about
the Camp, and of the Colony, from which the Offender
came, and where he usually resides: after which it shall
be deemed scandalous for any officer to associate with
him.

That the 3d. Article of the Rules &c. be
amended, by making the Punishment refer to the 2d, in
stead of the 1st Article.

That the 5th Article be

amended, by making the Offence, punishable with
Death, or otherwise, at the Discretion of a General Court
Martial.

That the 8th Article be amended, to make De-
serters to the Enemy, who may afterwards fall into our Hands,
punishable with Death, or otherwise, at the Discretion of General
Courts Martial.

That Articles 20th, and 21st be amended, by pu-
nishing the offence, therein specified, in the following Manner:
viz: an officer offending be cashiered, and drummed out of the
Army, with Infamy -- a private Soldier to be whipp'd, not less
than 20 Lashes, nor more than 39, according to the Nature of their
offence.

That the 17th Article be amended, by expressing the
Punishment following, viz: The officer be mulcted in one
Month's Pay for the 1st offence -- Cashiering for the second. A Soldier
to be confined for seven Days on Bread & Water, for the first
Offence -- for the second the same Punishment, with a For-
feiture of one Week's Pay.

That the 25th Article be amended,
by leaving out the Word "immediately," and after the Word,
"Death," substituting the Words, "by any Person on the Spot."

That the 29th Article be amended, by making the Embez
zlement of the Stores, therein mentioned, punished as the like
offence upon the Stores &c. mentioned in the 15th. Article of
the Rules and Regulations of the Army.

That the 30th. Article be amended, by ma-
king the offences punishable, as the Breach of the 20th. &

21st Articles, together with all Shares of Plunder, taken from
the Enemy.

That the 55th Article be amended, by expressing
the Punishment: viz: cashiering and mulcting of his Pay.
That the 57th. Article be amended, so as to in-
clude all Surgeons, and their Mates, and make the offence
of giving a false Certificate of Health punishable, as a
false Certificate with Respect to Absence.

It appearing, that both Ge
neral, and Special Orders are not duly obeyed, agreed, that
it be recommended to the Honble [illegible] Congress, to
form a new Article, by which Officers, & Soldiers, wilfully, or
negligently disobeying such orders, be punished at the Discretion
of a Regimental Court Martial, where the offence is a-
gainst a Regimental Order -- by a General Court Martial,
where the offence is against Orders, given by the Commander
in Chief, or of any Detachment, or Post, and such General
Court Martial can be had.

The Committee then proceeded
to the Consideration of such matters, as have been mentioned,
in the General's Letters to the Congress, upon which no
Order had been made.

First, what steps are necessary to
be pursued, with Regard to Dr. Church? If guilty, the Article
for the Government of the Army point out a very inad-
equate Punishment, & to set him at Liberty, must be ex

ceedingly dangerous?

Upon a Discussion of all Circumstances
it was agreed, to refer Dr. Church for Trial & Punishment
to the General Court of Massachusetts Bay: But that no
Procedure be had hereupon, until the Pleasure of the
Congress be known, on the late Application made by the
General.

2d. What Distinctions are necessary to be made,
between Vessels and Cargoes, taken by the armed Vessels,
in the Pay of the Continent, and those taken by Indivi-
duals. Should not the fitting out of Privateers by Indi-
viduals, be done under some Authority, and accidental
Captures, subject to some Regulations to prevent Piracies,
and other capital Abuses, which may arise?

Agreed, that the General Court ought
properly to take the Cognizance of all armed Vessels,
fitted out by Individuals, in this Province, & that
Commissions should be granted in such Cases; at least,
that Captures be made under some Authority. That Cap-
tures, made by armed Vessels, in the Pay of the Continent,
be disposed of by the General for the publick Use
untill the Continental Congress give farther Direction.

The Delegates then proposed
to the Consideration of the Members, what number of effective

Men, it may be expected, that the Colony of New Hamp
shire, Massachusetts Bay, Connecticut, and Rhode
Island, could and would furnish by the 10th. of March
next, and on what Terms.?

The Massachusetts Gentlemen
were of opinion, that 20,000 effective Men might
be raised in this Province to serve the next Campaign,
if absolutely necessary, on the Terms of the present
Army, viz: A Coat, 4 s p month, one Month's Wages
being advanced, -- and a greater Number to commence
on a special Emergency.

The Connecticut Gentlemen
were of the opinion, that 8000 Men may be raised in
their Province to serve the next Campaign, on the
Terms of the present Army, viz: 4 s p month, & 4 s
Bounty.

The President of New Hampshire Convention
gave his opinion, that his Colony could furnish
3000 Men for the next Campaign, at the Rate of
4 % p month, without a Bounty, unless a Bounty was
given by the adjoining Colonies, in which case they
would expect it.

The Governor of Rhode Is-
land gave his opinion, that Province could not go

farther than they had done this Campaign, viz:
to raise 1500 Men on the same Terms.

Upon considering the addi-
tional Instruction it was unanimously agreed, that
the Number of Forces, necessary for the northern
Department, depended so much on Events, and par-
ticularly the Success of the present Expedition against
Canada, that no probable Calculation, can be made
at this Time. Therefore deferred.

It was then deliberated,
what should be done with Tory Property? how is it
to be applied, or treated? Some of the Tories have
Estates, near the Camp at Cambridge, which have Wood
upon them, and other Articles, wanted for the Army;
ought they to be meddled with?

Agreed, that the Determination
of the Matter be referred to the Congress.

The General then proposed the
following Question?

Should there not be a
reasonable Price fixed on Wood, Hay, and other
Articles, wanted for the Army, to prevent Imposi-

sitions and Extortion?

Agreed, that, if it be indispen
sably necessary, such Articles should be valued,
and taken at such Valuation, for the Use of the
Army, and that a Regulation, corresponding
herewith, be recommended to the General Court
of Massachusetts Bay --

The Conference then broke up
with the several Governours of Connecticut
and Rhode Island, the President of the Con
vention of New-Hampshire, and the Committee
of Council for Massachusetts Bay.

A true Copy of the Mi-
nutes of the Conference, held by the Delegates
from the Continental Congress with
General Washington.

Edmund Randolp
Aid de Camp to
His Excellency.
[Pages 18-23 are blank.]

[Address]

General Washington
Cambridge Novr. 2d. 1775
Inclosing Copy of the Proceedings of the
Continental Committee