George Washington Papers

To George Washington from John Hancock, 4 May 1776

From John Hancock

Philadelphia May 4. 1776


A vacancy having happend in the first New Jersey batallion by the promotion of lieutenant Colonel Winds, the Congress thought proper to elect Mr Ogden to supply his place.1

Lord Sterling in his letter of the 18th of March last, among other things, informed the Congress, that by this appointment Major de Hart and the batallion considered themselves “exceedingly hurt” and enclosing a memorial from Major de Hart and the officers of that regiment he strongly hinted & expressed a hope that the Congress would supersede Mr Ogden & appoint Major de Hart or some other officer of the batallion in his stead.2

This letter with the memorials enclosed having been committed & a report made thereon the Congress came to sundry resolutions which I have the honour to enclose,3 and am Sr Your most Obedt servt

John Hancock Presidt

You will please to order Colo. Ogden to Join his Regimt.


1Congress promoted William Winds from lieutenant colonel to colonel of the 1st New Jersey Regiment on 7 Mar. to replace Lord Stirling who had been advanced from colonel to brigadier general six days earlier. At the same time Congress gave the vacant lieutenant colonelcy to Matthias Ogden, a native of Elizabeth, N.J., who had not previously served in the regiment but who had distinguished himself as a volunteer under Arnold in the attack against Quebec on 31 Dec. (JCC description begins Worthington Chauncey Ford et al., eds. Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774-1789. 34 vols. Washington, D.C., 1904–37. description ends , 4:181, 188).

2William De Hart (1746–1801), who had been major of the 1st New Jersey Regiment since its creation the previous fall, wrote Stirling on 14 Mar. expressing his concern that Ogden’s promotion had impugned his honor and left him no recourse but to resign unless he received a satisfactory explanation of why a volunteer with no previous rank had been preferred to him. The captains and subalterns of the regiment supported De Hart’s complaint in their petition to Congress of that same date. They did not question Ogden’s merit but were disturbed that he had been advanced over a superior in rank to whom “no reasonable Objection” could be made. “It is not Rank or Commissions we are asking for,” they said, “but that ourselves and Superiors may remain with Honor in their Stations while they deserve it, and Advance in that line in all other Cases of such a Nature.” Both De Hart’s letter and the officers’ petition were enclosed in Stirling’s letter to Hancock of 18 March. All three documents are in DNA:PCC, item 162. GW forced the regiment to accept Ogden as its lieutenant colonel (see GW to Hancock, 11 May 1776), and in February 1777 he appointed Ogden colonel of the regiment (see GW to William Livingston, 11 Feb. 1777, MHi: Livingston Papers). De Hart, whom GW persuaded in December 1776 to continue serving as major of the 1st New Jersey Regiment, was also promoted in February 1777, becoming lieutenant colonel of the 2d New Jersey Regiment (see De Hart to GW, 27 Dec. 1776). De Hart held that position until he left the army in November 1781.

3Congress resolved on 3 May “that the appointment of lieutenant colonel Ogden . . . was made upon good grounds, the Congress having reserved and frequently exercised the right of promoting men of distinguished merit.” The enclosure also included resolutions of the same date directing that the 1st New Jersey Regiment be furnished with uniforms and that Stirling’s proposal to raise an artillery regiment in New York City be postponed until GW gave his opinion about it (DLC:GW; see also JCC description begins Worthington Chauncey Ford et al., eds. Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774-1789. 34 vols. Washington, D.C., 1904–37. description ends , 4:324–25).

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