WMM Westford Colonial Minutemen

"...for our service the month of February & March last
in the Continental Army..."

The Orderly Book of
Colonel John Robinson's Regiment of Massachusetts Militia
Camp at Cambridge, February & March, 1776

The original manuscript document is contained in the collections of the

Huntington Library, San Marino, California and is referenced as HM596. 

The Huntington holds all copyrights to the manuscript document.

Transcribed by D.P. Lacroix, May/June 2003.

Page Guide

See also:  Historical Background and Origins of the Regiment

Contents of the Orderly Book

Revolutionary War regimental orderly books generally document the official business of the regiment.1 This can include orders received from different levels of the military hierarchy, orders given by officers of the regiment, records of the issuance or receipt of supplies, muster rolls, pay records, or anything else thought worthy of recording.  The orderly book of Col. John Robinson’s regiment, established during the Siege of Boston, is a good example of such record books.

A significant portion of Robinson’s orderly book contains the daily orders passed down to the regiment from various levels of the Continental Army’s chain of command.  As part of the early morning routine of the regiment, the General Orders from General Washington’s Headquarters in Cambridge were copied into the orderly book by the regiment’s adjutant.  In addition, any brigade orders issued by the brigadier general (Robinson’s commanding officer) were also copied into the book.

The remainder of the orderly book consists primarily of Regimental Orders from Col. Robinson, receipts for supplies distributed to the company captains, and pay receipts.  The proportions of each of these can be found in the table below.

Contents of Robinson’s Orderly Book
Subject Content
Percentage of Total

General Orders

Brigade Orders

Regimental Orders

Suppy Receipts
Total Regimental Business:
Pay Receipts
Misc. Regimental

Total number of pages: 50



Transcription notes

The manuscript does not appear to have any type of title page. While the pages in the manuscript are not numbered, page number designations have been added to the transcription as an aid for locating original passages.  Some early and late entries are out of chronological order and appear to have been added later to portions of pages that were previously left blank.

As one might expect, the General Orders found in this orderly book are nearly identical to those found in Washington’s orderly book from the period.  Since these orders are published elsewhere2, they are not included in this transcription.  They are, however, noted in the text.  For example, “Head Quarters 12 Feb y 1776…” indicates where the General Orders of February 12th appear in Robinson’s orderly book.

All other contents of Robinson’s orderly book have been faithfully transcribed.  An attempt has been made to maintain all misspellings, capitalization, and general page layout.  The transcriber has provided additional information within square brackets that help to place certain entries in historical context or add biographical information about people cited in the text.

Orderly Book Page Index


1.“A Brief Profile of Orderly Books”, John K. Robertson and Bob McDonald, at www.revwar75.com

    This piece provides an excellent overview of Revolutionary War period orderly books.

2. George Washington Papers, Library of Congress website.


Many thanks to Marilyn Day and Bob Oliphant for assistance in deciphering the more difficult portions of the orderly book.

© 2003-2004  D. P. Lacroix

    Last Updated 21 May, 2004

Page added 21 May, 2004

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