Manuscripts Division William L. Clements Library University of Michigan
Finding aid for Robert Howe Orderly Book, 1776-1778
Finding aid created by Philip Heslip, April 2011
Title: Robert Howe orderly book Creator: United States. Continental Army Inclusive dates: 1776-1778 Extent: 1 volume Abstract:
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 at St. Augustine, Florida, in June and July 1778.
Language: The material is in English Repository: William L. Clements Library, University of Michigan
909 S. University Ave. The University of Michigan Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1190 Phone: 734-764-2347 Web Site: www.clements.umich.edu
Access and Use
The collection is open for research.
Copyright status is unknown
Cataloging funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) and the "We the People" project.
Robert Howe Orderly Book, William L. Clements Library, The University of Michigan
Robert Howe (1732-1786) was a major general in the Continental Army during the American Revolution. He was born in New Hanover County, North Carolina, to Job Howe. In 1756 he became justice of the peace in Bladen, North Carolina, and between 1760 and 1775, he represented Bladen and Brunswick Counties in the North Carolina Assembly. During this time, Howe also served in various military raids on the North Carolina frontier and was the commander at Fort Johnson. Howe frequently clashed with Royal Governor Josiah Martin and became a proponent for American independence. At the outbreak of war against the British in 1775, Howe was appointed colonel of the 2nd Regiment of North Carolina Continentals. The Continental Congress appointed him brigadier general of the Continental Army in March 1776, and he served under Major General Charles Lee in South Carolina and Georgia. Howe was promoted to the rank of major general in early 1777, and was soon appointed commander of the Southern Department. In 1778, Howe partnered with the governor of Georgia John Houstoun to attack the British in East Florida, but disagreements of command resulted in a splintering of forces and the Continental Army's eventual defeat in the South. In 1779 he served under General George Washington in New York and Connecticut. Next he commanded Fort West Point in 1780, and after the war led frontier raids against various Native American tribes. Howe died in 1786.
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)