From Lieutenant Colonel William Palfrey
Lancaster [Pa.] 29 Decr 1777
In Consequence of your Excellency’s pleasure signified by Colo. Tilghman I have Order’d Mr Reed to proceed immediately to Head Quarters with the Military Chest1—My own ill State of Health is such that I am not able to follow it immediately—A violent Cold which has settled on my Lungs has Confin’d me for ten days past—I am something better, but the Disorder seems very obstinate—As soon as I can possibly venture out I shall proceed to York, & after acquainting myself with what Congress have done respectg the matters relative to my department recommended to them by your Excellency, I shall return to Camp.2
By some Letters I have just received from Home I find my private Affairs are suffering very much by my absence, particularly an Estate of my Brother in Law’s which cannot be settled until I am present.3 I was in hopes of accomplishing this Business when I obtaind your Excellys leave of Absence in October 1776, but the time was too short to go thro’ the necessary Forms of Law, & it has lain ever since in a way not very advantageous to the Concern’d—I shall therefore be under a necessity of requesting your Excellency’s permission to return home, after arranging the Business of my Department—or if this cannot be granted without prejudice to the Service that I may have leave to resign. I have the Honor to be most respectfully Your Excellency’s most obedt & humble Servant
1. GW wrote Anthony Wayne on 27 Dec. that Palfrey had been “orderd to Camp”; no letter from Tilghman to Palfrey for this period has been identified. Thomas Reed apparently was acting as Palfrey’s assistant before 31 Mar. 1778, when Palfrey appointed him, with the permission of Congress, assistant paymaster general. Congress appointed Reed deputy paymaster general at Albany in June 1779.
2. GW had suggested “the necessity of Auditors of Accounts” to the congressional committee visiting headquarters at Whitemarsh in early December (see GW to Henry Laurens, 23 Dec.), and on 10 Jan. 1778 Congress named John Clark, Jr., and Matthew Clarkson auditors for the army (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 , 10:38; see also Clark to GW, 13 Jan., n.2, and Palfrey to GW, 14 January). On 13 Jan. Congress empowered Palfrey to appoint assistants in the paymaster general’s department (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 , 10:45–46). See also GW’s suggestions relative to the paymaster’s department in his letter of 29 Jan. to a Continental Congress camp committee.
3. Palfrey married Susannah Cazneau (1740–1793) at Boston in 1765. The estate requiring Palfrey’s presence for settlement was likely that of Susannah’s brother William Cazneau of Boston, who had died in March 1776.