George Washington Papers

From George Washington to Major Warham Parks, 5 March 1778

To Major Warham Parks

Head Quarters [Valley Forge] 5th March 1778.


Colonel Shepard has communicated to me the contents of your Letter to him of 24th November last;1 your scruples relative to continuing in the service from the motives you mention, are the suggestions of a generous mind—but from the high Character I have heard of you as an Officer, I should not wish them to have influence enough to deprive the Army of so valuable a member—There can be no indelicacy or impropriety, for a while to receive the emoluments of your present Station, though you may be under a temporary disability to discharge the duties of it; especially as it proceeds from mere accident and no fault committed by you—and as it is to be expected you will again be in a condition to become as useful as ever, by the time the Season for activity returns. Your absence ’till the Campaign opens will be of no essential detriment to the Corps you belong to; and both that and the Service had better dispense with your presence for a time than lose you altogether.2 I am Sir Your most obedt Servt

Go: Washington

LS, in John Laurens’s writing, owned (1973) by Miss Ruth Parks, Little Compton, R.I.; Df, DLC:GW; Varick transcript, DLC:GW.

1Col. William Shepard may have told GW of Parks’s desire to resign; no letter from him on this subject has been found.

2Parks replied to GW on 30 Mar. from Westfield, Mass.: “your Letter of the 5th instant I have Recd; the notice you are Pleased to take of me in it; is greater than I Expected or my merit deserves; nothing but Absolute Necessity, induced me to petition for a discharge at this time; and was I now able to undergo the Fatiegues of a Campaign; I Should not waite to be invited to Serve my Country in so Just & Laudable a Contest; under a Commander in Chief I So much Revere & Esteem; but my health is so much impaired that Should I Attempt to take the Field again; I must Either Sacrifice my Constitution & perhaps my Life: or disappoint the Expe[c]tations of my Country; therefore think I am bound in Conciense & honor to Resign my Small Command to those who have health of Body & firmness of mind Sufficient to Carry them through the hardship and dangers of a Soldiers Life; I Should be unwilling to Leave the Army in a dishonorable manner; as I Ever whilst in Service Endeavoured to behave myself in a decent and Reputable Manner: hope Your Excellency will Consider my Case & grant me the favor of a discharge; which will add one more to the many favors all Ready Confered on your unworthy Petitioner” (DNA: RG 93, War Department).

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