George Washington Papers

From George Washington to Colonel Elias Dayton, 8 March 1778

To Colonel Elias Dayton

Head Quarters Valley Forge 8th March 1778


I am favd with yours of the 20th Feby and am sorry to find from it that the ill state of your health added to the situation of your private Affairs renders it highly inconvenient on the last account and impossible upon the former to remain in the Service.

I am so well convinced that you have no others motives for quitting the service than those you have alledged, that you have my consent as far as it depends upon me; but Congress having in a late instance seemed to have reserved to themselves the right of accepting the resignations of Officers of your Rank, I have not since that time thought myself at liberty to receive such Comms. before their consent has been obtained.1 You will therefore be pleased to make application to them.2

I am obliged to you for your professions of personal regard and hope that domestic ease and an attention to your private affairs will restore your heal[l]th and circumstances to their former sta⟨te⟩. I am Sir Yr most obt Servt

Go: Washington

Df, in Tench Tilghman’s writing, DLC:GW; Varick transcript, DLC:GW.

1GW apparently is referring to the resignation of Col. Alexander Spotswood on 9 Oct. 1777. Although GW accepted Spotswood’s “actual surrender of his Commission . . . according to the then prevailing mode of resignation” (GW to Virginia Delegates, 13 May 1779), Congress on 29 Nov. 1777 resolved “That the committee appointed to repair to the camp be instructed to intimate to General Washington that Congress are not willing to accept the resignation of Colonel Spotswood” (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 , 9:981). Spotswood, however, did not rejoin the army at that time, and GW turned down his effort to resume his rank in the summer of 1778 (see Spotswood to GW, 9 Oct. 1777, n.3).

2On 10 Mar., Col. Israel Shreve wrote GW, “Being informed that Colo: Dayton has resigned his Commission as Colo: of the third Regt of Jersey I do therefore Certify your Excellency that Lieut: Colo: Brearly is the first Lieut: Colo: of the State and upon every principle intitled to the vacancy” (DLC:GW). Dayton, however, remained colonel of the 3d New Jersey Regiment until it was disbanded in January 1781, and he served to the end of the war.

Index Entries