Guide to the Alexander Scammell (1747-1781), Adjutant General in the Continental Army Orderly Book 1780 MG 228
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The New Jersey Historical Society, Publisher
Inventory prepared by Luis Delfino, May 2001, as part of the “Farm to City” project funded by a grant from the National Historical Publications and Records Commission.
Finding aid encoded by Julia Telonidis. March 2006. Production of the EAD 2002 version of this finding aid was made possible by a grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. Finding aid written in English.
Alexander Scammell (1747-1781), the son of a prominent doctor, grew up in Mendon, Massachusetts, and graduated from Harvard University in 1769. He studied law in the office of John Sullivan in Durham, New Hampshire, and when the Revolutionary War began, he became a major in Sullivan’s Brigade of the New Hampshire Militia. In October 1776, Scammell became brigadier major in Charles Lee’s Division, and in November of that year he was promoted to colonel of the 3rd New Hampshire Regiment. He was present at the evacuation of Ticonderoga, and led his regiment in the two battles of Saratoga. He became Washington’s aide de camp and served as adjutant general from January 5, 1778 to January 1, 1781, when he resigned to take command of the 1st New Hampshire Regiment. In the Yorktown Campaign, he led 400 light infantry and was badly wounded, possibly after having been taken prisoner. He died from his injuries in October 1881 after being released and brought behind the American lines.
Background Historical Note: On December 1, 1779, the Continental Army under General George Washington encamped in Morristown, New Jersey. General Washington chose this area for its logistical, geographical and topographical military advantages, in addition to its proximity to New York City. The Army, after years of supply shortages, was just beginning to feel changes brought about by new Quartermaster General Nathanael Greene, but the overall conditions at the winter encampment in Morristown was perhaps the most brutal of the entire war. On June 22, 1780 the Army broke encampment and the following day, they defeated the British in the Battle of Springfield. Afterwards, the Continental Army continued to advance through eastern New Jersey toward the coast and New York City. The encampment for the following winter began in November 1780 in the Hudson Highlands.
This volume is an orderly book kept by Alexander Scammell, adjutant general and aide de camp to George Washington, for the Continental Army in New Jersey dating from March 23- July 23, 1780. Orders were issued at Morristown from March 23-June 6, 1780, and then from Short Hills, Connecticut Farms (now called Union Township), Springfield, Whippany, Ramapo, and Preakness until July 23, 1780. An orderly book is usually used by the orderly sergeants or the aide de camp to enter general and regimental orders, and there is usually one for each company. Typical orders recorded regard troop movements and formation, rations of food and rum, and court martial proceedings. Most of the court marshal proceedings were held for relatively minor offenses, such as leaving camp at night or unofficer-like behavior. Of note, however, is the July 22, 1780 proceeding against Thomas Brown of the 7th Pennsylvania Regiment, who was charged with “’Plundering the Inhabitants,’ while on Command at Paramus, and ‘Abusing a Woman.’” He pled guilty to the charges and was sentenced to death.
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This collection should be cited as: Manuscript Group 228, Alexander Scammell (1747-1781), Adjutant General in the Continental Army
Orderly Book, The New Jersey Historical Society.
This volume was the gift of Edwin A. Ely in 1923.
Pennington Family File, The New Jersey Historical Society.