The delegates continue to be involved in the intimate details of the inter-colonial war effort, intra-colonial concerns, intercepted letters, prisoner treatment, military appointments and deployments, as well as court martials. Congress resumes consideration of the committee report on General Schuyler’s letters and creates a new Committee of Three“to inquire into the conduct of the Officers who are prisoners, and the manner in which they are subsisted at present, and report thereon.” Richard Smith records that a Congressional position on independence is antiipted. Is the King’s speech a sufficient ground? What about an invasion by foreign forces?
Journals of the Continental Congress [Edited]
A letter from Mr. M[atthew] Tilghman, dated Annapolis, 5th January, with sundry enclosures, also a number of intercepted letters (dispatches from Governor Franklin, and a letter from C. Skinner), were laid before Congress, and read.
Resolved, That a letter be written to Mr. Tilghman, informing him, that the Hornet and Wasp are under orders to sail to the capes of Delaware, and that such vessels, as are ready to sail, may take the benefit of that convoy.
Resolved, That the Committee for fitting out armed vessels, be directed to give orders to the captains of the Hornet and Wasp, to take under their convoy, such vessels as are ready to sail.
The Committee of claims reported, that there are three claims due.
Ordered, That the above be paid.
Resolved, That a committee of three be appointed to inquire into the conduct and treatment of the Officers who are prisoners and submit a report. The members chosen were William Livingston, Eliphalet Dyer, and William Floyd.
Ordered, That a certified copy of the intercepted letter of Cortland Skinner, be sent to the committee of safety of the colony of New Jersey:
That Lord Stirling take with him a sufficient force and immediately apprehend and place Cortland Skinner, of Amboy, in custody until further orders from Congress.
That he deliver Skinner to the committee of safety of New Jersey for examination.
That the committee of safety transmit his examination to Congress.
Resolved, That the militia raised in New York, by order of Congress, to support the fort lately erected on Hudson’s river, be discharged, except those stationed in the fort, who shall also be discharged whenever replacement troops arrive; and that the committee of safety of New York execute this Resolve.
Resolved, That money be sent to the pay master general for the use of the army in the Massachusetts.
The Congress resumed consideration of the report of the committee on General Schuyler’s letters. Resolved that five military appointments shall be made.
Resolved, That no postage be paid for any letters to or from private soldiers, while engaged in actual service in the defense of the United Colonies; and that such letters be franked by a person authorized by the commanding officer of the department.
Resolved, That a letter be written to General Schuyler by the president, informing him, that he should proceed to have the conduct of Lieutenant Halsey inquired into by a court martial, giving him previous notice to appear in his own defense.
Resolved, That a conductor of artillery, a superintendent of the arms, a barrack master, and store keeper, be appointed to the northern army, and that General Schuyler be desired to recommend proper persons to the Congress for those offices.
Resolved, That the deputy pay master general appoint two assistant pay masters and that together they pay all the officers and soldiers in the Northern department.
Resolved, That a communication should be opened between Skenesborough and Fort Ann, and that Wood creek be cleared for that purpose.
Resolved, That the committee of safety of the province of New York find out what it would take to secure the Hudson river from enemy ships, to make an estimate of the expense, and report their proceedings immediately to Congress.
Resolved, That tomorrow be assigned for the choice of two Brigadiers general; one for the army in Massachusetts and the other for the army in the northern department.
Adjourned to 10 o’Clock tomorrow.
Richard Smith’s Diary
The Report on General Schuyler’s Letters was taken up, some of the Articles agreed to and some recommitted…. The Promotion of Arnold was again moved and deferred till Tomorrow. Wilson moved & was strongly supported that the Congress may expressly declare to their Constituents and the World their present Intentions respecting an Independency, observing that the King’s Speech directly charged Us with that Design, he was opposed but Friday was fixed for going into that Affair. Several Members said that if a Foreign Force shall be sent here, they are willing to declare the Colonies in a State of Independent Sovereignty.
Edited with commentary by Gordon Lloyd.