Journals of the Continental Congress

Second Continental Congress: November 17, 1775

November 17, 1775

Congress is concerned with the proper treatment of prisoners. A Committee of Seven is created to oversee the appropriate disposal of captured enemy vessels. John Hancock emphasizes these two points in his letter to Walter Livingston.

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Journals of the Continental Congress [Edited]

A letter from General Washington, with a letter and journal from Colonel Arnold, and sundry papers, were read: and the General’s letter being taken into consideration,

Resolved, That a Committee of Seven be appointed, to take into consideration so much of said letter as relates to the disposal of such vessels and cargoes belonging to the enemy, as shall fall into the hands of, or be taken by, the inhabitants of the United Colonies. George Wythe, Edward Rutledge, John Adams, William Livingston, Benjamin Franklin, James Wilson, and Thomas Johnson were selected.

Resolved, That the prisoners taken at Chambly and St. John’s, be sent to, and kept in, the towns of Reading, Lancaster, and York, in the colony of Pennsylvania.

That the committee appointed on 11th instant, to contract for supplying the Battalion, raised in Pennsylvania, be empowered to distribute the above prisoners in the towns aforesaid, and contract for their support or subsistence.

That Orders issue to the officer who has the charge of conducting the prisoners, to march them by the nearest road to Reading, in the colony of Pennsylvania, and that the Deputy Commissary general be directed to supply them with provisions for their march, agreeable to the rations supplied to the continental Army.

That the said commissary be directed, if the prisoners agree to it, to send the women, children and Baggage by water to Amboy, from thence to be sent across to Borden-town, and from thence by water to Philadelphia, from which last place they will be sent to join the Garrison in the towns allotted them, this being judged the safest, cheapest, and most commodious way of conveying them.

Whereas it is become necessary to appoint another colonel of the regiment of Artillery, to replace Colonel Gridley, on account of his advanced age,

Henry Knox was unanimously elected a Colonel of the regiment of Artillery.

Resolved, That the commissioned Officers, taken in the forts of Chambly and St. John’s, be put on their parole of honor, that they will not go into or near any sea port town, nor further than six miles distant from the respective places of their residence, without leave of the Continental Congress, and that they will carry on no political correspondence whatever, on the subject of the dispute between Great Britain and these Colonies, so long as they remain prisoners.

Whereas the officers taken at Fort Chambly, have been permitted by General Schuyler, to make choice of, and to reside in Trenton, New Jersey, and the dispositions of the prisoners by him made, has been approved by Congress,

Ordered, That a copy of the foregoing resolution be sent to the Committee of Trenton, and that the Committee be desired to get the same signed by the officers there.

Resolved, That the officers taken at St. John’s, be sent to Windham and Lebanon, in the Colony of Connecticut, provided General Schuyler has not given his word for another disposition of them.

Resolved, That there be a call of the house on Monday next at 10 o’Clock.

John Hancock to Walter Livingston (Deputy Commissary General)

The Congress having resolved that the Prisoners taken at Chambly and St. Johns be sent to the Towns of Reading, Lancaster & York in the Colony of Pennsylvania; and having issued Orders to the Officer who has the Charge of conducting them to march them by the nearest Road to the Town of Reading in said Colony, and to apply to you for Provisions for Subsistence on their March, I am directed to order you to supply them agreeably to the Rations given to the Continental Army.

I am further to direct you, if the Prisoners agree to it, to send the Women, Children and Baggage by Water to Amboy, from thence to be sent across to Borden-Town, and from thence by Water to Philadelphia; from which last Place they will be sent to join the Garrison in the Towns allotted them-this being judged, the safest, cheapest, and most commodious Way of conveying them.

Should the Express not meet the Party with the Prisoners, please to take the Letter, and deliver it to the Commanding Officer, on his Arrival with the Prisoners at Albany.

To remain in the vicinity of Trenton and to “carry on no political correspondence whatever, on the subject of the dispute between Great Britain and these Colonies.”

Edited with commentary by Gordon Lloyd.