George Washington Papers

From George Washington to Major General Thomas Conway, 30 December 1777

To Major General Thomas Conway

Head Qrs [Valley Forge] Decr 30th 1777


I am favor’d with your Letter of yesterday, in which you propose (in order to loose no time) to begin with the instructions of the Troops.

You will observe by the Resolution of Congress relative to your appointment, that the board of War is to furnish a Sett of Instructions, according to which the Troops are to be Manœuvred—As you have made no mention of having recd them, I suppose they are not come to you. when they do, I shall Issue any Orders which may be judged Necessary to have them carried into immediate Execution.1

Your appointment of Inspector General to the Army, I believe has not given the least uneasiness to any Officer in it. by Consulting your own feelings upon the appointment of the baron de Kalb you may judge what must be the Sensations of those Brigadiers, who by your Promotion are Superceded.2 I am told they are determin’d to Remonstrate against it,3 for my own part I have nothing to do in the appointment of Genl Officers, & shall always afford every Countenance & due respect to those appointed by Congress; taking it for granted, that prior to any Resolve of that Nature they take a dispassionate View, of the merits of the Officer to be promoted, & consider every Consequence that can result from such a Procedure; nor have I any other wish on that Head, but that good attentive Officers may be Chosen, & no Extraordinary promotion take place, but where the Merit of the Officer is so generally acknowledged as to Obviate every reasonable cause of Dissatisfaction thereat.4 I am Sir & Ca.


Df, in John Fitzgerald’s writing, DLC:GW; copy, DNA:PCC, item 152; copy, ScHi: Henry Laurens Papers; copy, DNA:PCC, item 169; Varick transcript, DLC:GW.

1For Congress’s resolution of 13 Dec. creating and regulating the office of inspector general, see 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 , 9:1023–26. The passage GW is referring to directs the inspector general “to see that every officer and soldier be instructed in the exercise and manœuvres which may be established by the Board of War” (ibid., 1024).

2The promotion of Johann Kalb to major general on 15 Sept. 1777 had induced Conway to protest to Congress (see Conway’s letters to Congress of 25 Sept. and to John Hancock of 19 Oct., both in DNA:PCC, item 159). Silas Deane had assured Conway before he left France that officers like Kalb who were junior to him in the French army would not be promoted above him in America. Deane also wrote Congress on 29 Nov. 1776 that he was “confident you will not think it right he [Conway] should rank under those who have served under him in this kingdom” (Isham, Deane Papers description begins Charles Isham, ed. The Deane Papers. 5 vols. New York, 1887-91. In Collections of the New-York Historical Society, vols. 19–23. description ends , 1:381).

3For the brigadier generals’ remonstrance against Conway’s appointment, see John Sullivan to GW, 2 Jan. 1778.

4GW did not believe that Conway’s promotion met any of these stipulations. See GW to Richard Henry Lee, 16 Oct. 1777.

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