George Washington Papers

From George Washington to Major Thomas Forrest, 11 March 1778

To Major Thomas Forrest

Head Quarters [Valley Forge] 11th March 1778


I am favd with yours of the 9th: I cannot conceive how you can think yourself injured by the promotion of Major Popkin to the Lieutenant Colonelcy of Colo. Cranes Battalion of Artillery, if it is so, for I am not yet informed that such promotion has taken place. Each Regiment of Artillery is as distinct as the Regiments of foot belonging to different States are from each other, and therefore the promotion of an Officer in Colo. Cranes or Colo. Lambs Battalion no more affects you than the promotion of an Officer in the Virginia line affects the Rank of an Officer in the Maryland or any other.1 I hope upon reflexion you will see this matter in its true light, which I think is as stated above. I am Sir Yr most obt Servt.

P.S. As I am unaquainted with the matter respecting Major Popkin’s promotion, I shall suspend it at least till Genl Knox’s Arrival.2

Df, in Tench Tilghman’s writing, DLC:GW; copy, PHarH: Records of Pennsylvania’s Revolutionary Governments, 1775–1790; Varick transcript, DLC:GW. The copy, docketed as received on 23 Jan. 1779, was probably sent to the Pennsylvania government by Forrest or by Col. Thomas Proctor.

1Forrest’s letter has not been found. John Popkin (c.1742–1827) was appointed a captain of Col. Richard Gridley’s Massachusetts artillery regiment in May 1775 and remained with that unit, which was redesigned the Continental Artillery Regiment, until it was disbanded on 1 Jan. 1777. After the death of Maj. Edward Payson Williams on 25 May 1777, Popkin was appointed to replace him as major of the 3d Massachusetts Regiment, an appointment confirmed by the Massachusetts council on 11 June 1777 and apparently backdated to 1 Jan. 1777. The actual date of Popkin’s appointment as lieutenant colonel of the 3d Continental Artillery is uncertain, but his rank was dated from 15 July 1777. He remained in the army until June 1783. At this time Popkin was in Boston, where Maj. Gen. William Heath listed him as a lieutenant colonel in his general orders of 18 Jan. (MHi: Heath Papers).

2Henry Knox did not return to Valley Forge until early April.

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