George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Brigadier General James Mitchell Varnum, 29 December 1777

From Brigadier General James Mitchell Varnum

Camp [Valley Forge] Decr 29th, 1777.


I inclose your Excellency two Certificates from Doctor Rush. The Absurdity of the one, recommending more than three Hundred Miles March, for a lame Fifer; The dangerous Contents of the other, tending to discourage the Troops, & cause Tryumph in the Enemy, should a similar one fall into their Hands, induced me to trouble your Excellency in this Way.1 I have this Gentleman’s Recommendations crouding upon me in such great Profusion, that I am led to believe his Humanity will be exerted to his utmost, to prevent the two Evils by him pointed out. I should be happy to receive your Excellency’s Directions, whether any, & what Regard, should be paid to his Applications; And am respectfully, your very humble & obdt Servt

J. M. Varnum

ALS, DLC:GW. John Laurens docketed the letter “Answd,” but no reply has been found.

1Benjamin Rush wrote both of the enclosed certificates at the general hospital at Princeton, N.J., on 23 December. The first reads: “Ambrose sperry—a soldier in Col: [John] Durkee’s regiment being wore out with hard Service, and unfit for duty, & having no chance of recovering in the hospitals, or in camp—(both of which it is to be feared will reduce our army during the winter), is hereby recommended for a furlough to visit his friends—and to join his regiment in the Spring” (DLC:GW). The second certificate reads: “Narcissus Graham—a fifer in Col: Durkee’s regiment being wounded in his knee, & so weakned as to be unable to march is hereby recommended to his Coll for a furlough to go to his friends during the winter” (DLC:GW).

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