George Washington Papers

From George Washington to John Hancock, 20 January 1777

To John Hancock

Head Quarters Morris town 20th Jany 1777


I am favoured with yours of the 15th instant with the sundry Resolves inclosed in it. If that respecting the Continental Currency is carried strictly into execution, it cannot fail of fully re-establishing its Credit.

I have no objection to the three Gentlemen who are recommended for Feild Officers in the New Hampshire Regiment, they seem fully intitled to it, as they have raised the Regiment. I will furnish them with Commissions, from the date of their appointment, when applied to for that purpose.1

There is something particular in the Application of Colo. Dubois and his Officers for the Sum of 513⅔ dollars. They were to have been commissioned provided they could raise the Men, but from their own pay Abstract it appears that 14 Officers only brought 25 Men into the Feild. As they certainly did not comply with their agreement, I would, after stating the Matter as it really was, submit it to Congress, who have the disposal of the public Money.2

I have perused the Petition of Monsr Fanuiel and other French Gentlemen. If they could raise such a Regiment, as they propose, it would certainly be usefull, but I have no conception that there are Canadians enough to be found even for a Regiment of the common Number, much less of 2347 which is the number proposed.3 I know, neither Colo. Livingston nor Colo. Hazen could ever compleat their Canadian Regiments when they had the Country open to them.

As I would give Encouragement to Foreigners of real Merit, I would put the thing upon this footing. If Monsr Fanuiel can procure a sufficient Number of Officers to fill a Regiment of the common Size, and they can give any Assurances of being able to raise the Men, I would grant them Commissions.

I would beg leave to remark here, that except we can throw the many Foreigners, who have Commissions in our Army, into a Corps together, they will be intirely useless, as they can neither converse with Officers or Men in any other kind of Regiment.

I am so well assured, that you would not recommend Docr Potts to succeed Docr Stringer in the northern Department, except you had sufficient proof of his Abilities in the medical line, that I readily concur with you in the Appointment.

I have recd a peice of Information which I am afraid is true, and that is, that the British Cruizers have taken a French Vessel with a large parcel of Cannon & Mortars on board. I know such a one was expected, and therefore more readily credit the Account.4 I am Sir with Respect and Esteem Yr most obt Servt

Go: Washington

LS, in Tench Tilghman’s writing, DNA:PCC, item 152; Df, DLC:GW; copy, DNA:PCC, item 169; Varick transcript, DLC:GW. The Continental Congress executive committee received and forwarded this letter to Hancock on 22 Jan. (Smith, Letters of Delegates description begins Paul H. Smith et al., eds. Letters of Delegates to Congress, 1774–1789. 26 vols. Washington, D.C., 1976–2000. description ends , 6:130–31), and Congress read it on 28 Jan. (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 , 7:65).

1The New Hampshire house of representatives on 4 Dec. 1776 resolved to raise a regiment to reinforce New York, and the next day it chose David Gilman as colonel, Thomas Bartlett as lieutenant colonel, and Peter Coffin as major (see Bouton, N.H. State Papers description begins Nathaniel Bouton, ed. State Papers. Documents and Records Relating to the State of New-Hampshire during the Period of the American Revolution, from 1776 to 1783 . . .. In New Hampshire Provincial and State Papers, vol. 8. 1874. Reprint. New York, 1973. description ends , 8:398, 403, 404, 415, 417).

2In the draft this sentence was first written to read: “As they certainly did not comply with their Agreement, I do not think them entitled to their pay. At least not more than one or two Subalterns could have found employ for so small a command. But I submit the Matter to Congress who have the disposal of the public Money.” Col. Lewis Duboys’s petition and pay abstract for the 5th New York Regiment, which have not been identified, apparently were enclosed in Hancock’s letter to GW of 15 Jan. 1777.

3GW is referring to a plan submitted to the Massachusetts General Court on 21 Nov. 1776 by Faneuil and other French officers from Cap-Français proposing to raise a regiment for the Continental service from among Canadian exiles living in the United States (DNA:PCC, item 42). The effort failed, and in February Faneuil concocted a second plan to recruit men from the French islands, but Congress disapproved that scheme on 14 Mar., although it commissioned him colonel by brevet without pay or rations ten days later (see GW’s second letter to Hancock of 20 Feb., and 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 , 7:177, 196). Faneuil, who purportedly served as a captain in the French dragoons and commandant of Trou and commander of the coast of Saint Domingue in the 1760s, died before raising any regiment (see List of French Officers, 17 Oct. 1776, and James Bowdoin to GW, 17 Oct. 1776, in DNA:PCC, item 78, the Massachusetts council to GW, 22 Jan., in M-Ar: Revolution Letters, and Jean de Florat to the Continental Congress, 30 Nov. 1780, and 6 June 1782, in DNA:PCC, items 43, 41).

4Rumors of the British capture of a French vessel laden with artillery for the Continental army proved false.

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