Major Hallet, Chaplain

Chaplain Hallet. Despite his omission from the list of officers and men of the frigate Confederacy on pages 601-602 of the “Record of Service of Connecticut Men, Part I, Naval Record of Connecticut, 1775-1783″ edited by Henry P. Johnston (1889), a former Major Hallet apparently entered on board the frigate Confederacy in the capacity of chaplain prior to the vessel’s departure from New London, CT for her maiden voyage on Saturday 1 May 1779. The Confederacy was operating in the Delaware Bay by the end of May when Elias Boudinot sent a letter to George Washington revealing that Hallet was accused by two persons of being an agent in British service. A prominent New Jersey lawyer prior to the American Revolution, Boudinot was made commissary-general of prisoners in May 1777 at General Washington’s request. In that position, Colonel Boudinet was responsible for the care of British prisoners and for supplying provisions to American prisoners held by the enemy. Due to his proximity and connections with New York, the commissary-general was acquainted with espionage activities on both sides and although Boudinot had left the post in July 1778, his opinion on such matters was well trusted. Forwarding the accusation to the Board of War, Washington added in a letter dated Saturday 22 May 1779 and quoted by Parker C. Thompson in “The United States Chaplaincy, Vol 1” (1978), “If the facts are true which it contains, the Chaplain on board the Confederacy appears to be a very improper person for such a Trust.” The Marine Committee of the Continental Congress responded with a letter from John Brown to Captain Seth Harding of the Confederacy dated Wednesday 26 May 1779, “Sir, I am ordered by the Marine Committee to desire that you will send up the Chaplin of your Ship to the place under a Guard so as to be brought before the committee on friday evening next at Six O’clock.” It is not known if the frigate came back into Philadelphia early enough in June to deposit the former chaplain at the Marine Committee’s doorstep for their 4 June 1779 inquisition. Nothing more is known concerning the personal history or the outcome of the accused turncoat. Sometime during the Summer or early Fall of 1779, Major Hallet was replaced as chaplain by Presbyterian clergyman Robert Keith who went on board the frigate Confederacy near Philadelphia.

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