George Washington Papers

From George Washington to a Continental Congress Camp Committee, 1 March 1778

To a Continental Congress Camp Committee

Valley-forge March 1st 1778

Gentn

As I do not recollect your determination respecting the resolve of Congress, in the case of Woodford &ca Mr Harrison waits upon you for that purpose; and to explain the matter so far as it relates to Weedon & Scott.1

By him you will receive the proposals for collecting Cavalry2—I also send, for your perusal, a Letter &ca just received from Genl Howe;3 which shews in a very conspicuous point of view, the advantage we give him, by suffering one power to counteract another; and taking things up through improper Channels, & upon hasty information, which was the case of that given by Mr Boudinot.

Will Putnam, or Heath do for the command at Rhode Island?4 If not, it is hard to furnish Tools that cannot be used, & yet expect work from them.5

The appointment of Genl Officers cannot be delayed without injuring the Service—Our arrangements will be the more imperfect, & we less fit for the field, the longer they are delayed—however, as these are matters that cannot have escaped6 the Comee—I shall only add, that with sincere esteem and regard I am Gentn Yr Most Obedt Ser.

Go: Washingto<n>

P.S. Is it not the present expectation of the Comee that Genl Green will come into the Qr Mrs department? as Genl Portail is pressing to know the Comees decision relative to the Engineer recomd by him, and a real want of these People appear I should also be glad to know what to expect & say to him on this head.7

ALS, DNA:PCC, item 33; ADfS, DLC:GW; Varick transcript, DLC:GW.

1For discussion of the dispute about the relative ranks of Virginia brigadier generals William Woodford, Peter Muhlenberg, Charles Scott, and George Weedon, see GW to Henry Laurens, 1 Jan. 1778, and note 8. On 2 Mar. the camp committee provided a “State of the Case of Brigr Genls Mulenbergh Weedon Woodford and Scott with their Claim of Rank.” After giving a chronology of various appointments and resolutions bearing on the controversy, the committee reported: “Woodford claims to Rank as the eldest Brigr because before his Resignation he was the eldest Colo. to which Resignation he was compelled by the Injustice done him. To this Claim Scott assents but Mulenbergh & Weedon oppose it upon the Principle that Woodford having resigned held no Rank at the time of his Promotion. Scott claims to Rank before Weedon because he did so when they were Colonels. To this Claim Weedon objects. The within Case and the Claims thereon having been referred to the Committee of Congress they request the Opinion of a Board of General Officers more properly on the foregoing state of Facts which is submitted to them as more properly cognizable by Gentlem[en] of the Army than those in a civil Line” (DNA:PCC, item 33; see also Smith, Letters of Delegates description begins Paul H. Smith et al., eds. Letters of Delegates to Congress, 1774–1789. 26 vols. Washington, D.C., 1976–2000. description ends , 9:197–99).

2These unidentified proposals probably concerned the employment of Col. George Baylor to purchase horses in Virginia and North Carolina (see GW to Baylor, 4 Mar.).

4GW was responding to the congressional resolution of 21 Feb. directing him “to order a major general to take the command of the troops in the State of Rhode Island, in the place of Major General Spencer, resigned” (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 , 10:188).

5On the draft GW originally wrote, “give me Tools I cannot work with, and expect nevertheless that business must be done,” but he struck out those words and substituted the text of the LS. He then added two insertions, which would have changed the text to read, “expect good workmanship from them.”

6On the draft GW wrote initially “must strike” but crossed those words out and substituted “cannot have escaped.”

7For Duportail’s recommendation of Jean-Bernard-Bourg Gauthier de Murnan, see his letter to GW of 18 Jan., n.3. GW presented the recommendation to the camp committee on 19 February. The committee recommended Murnan’s appointment in a letter to Henry Laurens of 3 Mar. (see Smith, Letters of Delegates description begins Paul H. Smith et al., eds. Letters of Delegates to Congress, 1774–1789. 26 vols. Washington, D.C., 1976–2000. description ends , 9:205–8), but Congress did not act until 13 Jan. 1779, when it appointed him “a major in the corps of engineers, to take rank as such from the 1st day of March last, and to receive pay and subsistence from the 1st day of February last, the latter being the time he was employed by Brigadier du Portail, and the former the time he was directed by the Commander in Chief to act as major” (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 , 13:57–58).

Index Entries