Robert Howe orderly book  1776-1778
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Collection Scope and Content Note

The Robert Howe orderly book (181 pages) was kept by an American officer at the headquarters of Major General Robert Howe (1732-1786), of the Continental Army's Southern Department, from June 16, 1776, to July 14, 1778. Included are orders relating to the anticipated British attack on Charleston, South Carolina, in 1776, and to Howe's expedition against the British in St. Augustine in June and July 1778. Howe's general orders contain details on troop instructions, promotions, the treatment of prisoners, care for the sick and wounded, troop discipline, troop rations and supplies, and records of courts martial. In addition to orders from General Howe, which comprise the bulk of the entries, are instructions from Major General Charles Lee, resolutions from the Continental Congress, extracts from minutes of the Department of War, and tables accounting for numbers of captains, subalterns, sergeants, and the rank and file in Howe's army.

Below are some notable orders:

  • September 4, 1776: Orders threatening punishment for soldiers who were caught pulling down a house near Sunbury, Georgia (page 25)
  • January 8, 1777: Orders concerning the relaying of orders between officers and their soldiers (page 39)
  • May 8, 1777: Orders forbidding gambling among soldiers as commanded by General George Washington (pages 87-88)
  • November 16, 1777: Orders concerning the appearance of soldiers (clothes and hygiene) (page 81)
  • December 12, 1777: Description of annual supplies for each soldier (one coat, one blanket, one pair of breeches, etc.) (pages 90-91)
  • May 10, 1778: Orders forbidding the use of bayonets as tent stakes (page 133)
  • May 20, 1778: Orders regulating hunting and fishing parties (page 120)
  • June 25, 1778: Marching orders for Howe's forces into East Florida to face the British (page 169)

Below is a list of some of the topics covered:

  • June 21, 1776: Copied extracts from War Office minutes signed by John Adams et. al. (page 17-18)
  • November 29, 1776: Announcement that General Robert Howe and his forces arrived in Savannah, Georgia (page 33)
  • May 26, 1778: Orders concerning the formation of enslaved African Americans into two companies, policies for their well-being (rations, camping conditions, and roll call), and their assignment for road clearing duty (page 148)
  • May 11, 1778: Council of war at Fort Tonyn, presided over by Robert Howe, concerning the North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia forces and the campaign against the British in East Florida
  • May 31, 1778: News that France had publicly acknowledged the independence of the United States of America (page 154)
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