George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Major General John Sullivan, 2 January 1778

From Major General John Sullivan

Camp valley Forge Jany 2d 1778


I am Directed by a Number of the Genl officers of the Army to Enclose your Excellency a memorial from them to Congress which they beg you to peruse & forward as Soon as Convenient—The General officers further Direct me to Inform your Excellency That The Inclosed Memorial Shows forth as well The Sentiments of the General officers absent as those who have Signed.1 I have the Honor to be with The highest Sentiments of Esteem & Respect yr Excellencys most obedient Servant

Jno. Sullivan


1Sullivan may have enclosed a version of the letter from Certain General Officers to GW of 31 Dec. 1777. It seems never to have been sent to Congress, but on 6 Jan. brigadier generals Lachlan McIntosh, Henry Knox, William Maxwell, Enoch Poor, George Weedon, Jedediah Huntington, Charles Scott, John Paterson, and J. M. Varnum wrote another memorial to Congress specifically mentioning Conway’s promotion to inspector general. On 19 Jan., Congress read the memorial of 6 Jan. and another from Nathanael Greene of 12 Jan. on the same subject, ordering them to lie on the table (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 10:63; Greene’s letter is in Greene Papers description begins Richard K. Showman et al., eds. The Papers of General Nathanael Greene. 13 vols. Chapel Hill, N.C., 1976–2005. description ends , 2:252–53). The letter of 6 Jan. from the nine brigadier generals reads in part: “Unhappy as it is, Necessity obliges us to mention the late Promotion of Brigadier General Conway. We have commanded him in the Field and are totally unacquainted with any superior Act of Merit which could intitle him to rise above us. Thro’ the severities of three Campaigns we have struggled with almost insurmountable Difficulties, to deserve the Approbation of our Countrymen. To be disgrac’d by their Representatives, the Great Council of the States, without the least Imputation of Demerit, fills us, as Citizens; with the deepest Concern; As soldiers and Men of Honor we doubly feel the Indignity. ‘Honor will judge of its’ own Injuries’—and no Power on Earth can render us callous to all Impressions. We wish not to depart from our Duty, but in Pursuance thereof chuse rather to point out, than resent our Grievances. In doing which, we doubt not but we shall receive the Approbation and Relief of Congress” (DNA:PCC, item 162). See also Sullivan to Henry Laurens, 20 Jan., in Hammond, Sullivan Papers description begins Otis G. Hammond, ed. Letters and Papers of Major-General John Sullivan, Continental Army. 3 vols. Concord, 1930-39. In Collections of the New Hampshire Historical Society, vols. 13–15. description ends , 2:14–16.

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