George Washington Papers

From George Washington to Brigadier General Francis Nash, 17 August 1777

To Brigadier General Francis Nash

Head Quarters Bucks County [Pa.]
17th Augt 1777


I am favd with yours of the 14th inclosing the proceedings of a Court Martial, and the opinions of a Board of Feild Officers upon the irregularity of the promotion of Colo. Lamb & Colo. Little.

I am persuaded that a frequency of Executions lessens the force of them, and therefore, if either or both of the Criminals under sentence in the opinion of yourself and the officers of your Brigade, deserve mercy, I am willing it should be extended after carrying them thro’ all the forms of an execution. But if you think that an example is necessary to put a stop to the too prevailing Vice of desertion, let the most atrocious offender of the two suffer after you have recd a proper warrant from me.

It appears to me by the representation signed by the Board of Feild Officers in your Brigade, that it had been the Usage of the State of North Carolina for all the Officers to rise regimentally, by which rule Colo. Lamb and Colo. Little succeeded of course.1 When the Regulation was made by a Board of General Officers on the 13th of June last “that all promotion to the Rank of Major should be regimental and after that in the line of the State” it was never meant to have a retrospect, otherwise it would have unhinged the Arrangement of Pennsylvania, Virginia and most of the Eastern States. I am therefore of opinion that if it was the Usage of the State of North Carolina to promote Regimentally when Colo. Lamb and Colo. Little recd their Commissions that they should hold them and that the eldest Major upon the line in your State should succeed Lt Colo. Ingram. I am &ca

Df, in Tench Tilghman’s writing, DLC:GW; Varick transcript, DLC:GW.

1Gideon Lamb (1740–1781) of Currituck County, N.C., was commissioned major of the 6th North Carolina Regiment on 15 April 1776. He was promoted to lieutenant colonel on 6 May 1776 and to colonel on 26 Jan. 1777. Lamb retired from the service on 1 June 1778. Archibald Lytle (1730–1790; Little) served as a captain in the 6th North Carolina Regiment from 16 April 1776 to 26 Jan. 1777, when he was promoted to lieutenant colonel. On 20 June 1779 Lytle was wounded during the American attack on the British garrison at Stono Ferry, S.C., and on 12 May 1780 he was taken prisoner at Charleston. Lytle was exchanged in February 1782 and breveted colonel in September 1783. The question of rank arose after the resignation on 8 July of James Ingram, who had served as colonel of the 8th North Carolina Regiment since 26 Nov. 1776.

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