To Colonel Armand
Head Quarters Valley Forge 25 March 1778
I yesterday recd your letter from York Town.1 You must have misunderstood me if you thought I gave you permission to raise a new and separate Corps. I told you I had no power to grant such a request, but that if you could obtain permission from Congress or of the Comee of Congress in Camp I should have no objection to the measure & to yr Inlisting Prisoners.2 I am certain I never gave you any encouragement to inlist deserters because I had ever found them of the greatest injury to the service by debauching our own Men and had therefore given positive orders to all recruiting Officers not to inlist them upon any terms.3 The Congress have since made an express Resolve against it—and also against inlisting prisoners.4
As you say your two Lieutenants were promised the Rank of Captains by the Marquis de la Fayette, I cannot do any thing in that matter untill I have seen the Marquis who is expected from Albany shortly. When the Committee of Congress found that the Corps formula commanded by you were reduced below 50 Men, they determined to reduce it and to throw the Men into some Regiment.5
I hope you will understand me clearly, when I again assure you, that I have no powers to authorize the rais⟨g⟩ of new Corps6 and as you are upon the spot, you will have a good opportunity of making application to the Congress for such a command as you seem desirous of having. I am Sir Yr most obt Servt.
Df, in Tench Tilghman’s writing, DLC:GW; Varick transcript, DLC:GW. This letter arrived at York after Armand had returned to camp. Henry Laurens forwarded it back to camp on 29 Mar. (see Laurens to GW, that date). GW made changes to the draft (see notes 2 and 6).
2. On the draft GW inserted the phrases “or of the Comee of Congress in Camp” and “to the measure & to yr Inlisting Prisoners.” On 25 June the Continental Congress adopted with some revision a Board of War report of 17 May that authorized Armand to recruit “Deserters from the Enemy’s foreign Troops, French Men, and others not owing Allegiance to the King of Great Britain” to fill out the independent corps (Ottendorf’s) that he had commanded since June 1777. The corps, renamed “The Free and Independent Chasseurs,” was to have a strength of 14 officers and 438 men (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 , 11:642–45).
3. These orders have not been identified.
4. For the congressional resolution of 26 Feb., see 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 , 10:203.
5. Tilghman wrote this paragraph below the closing on the draft, but it was marked for inclusion at this point.
6. On the draft GW inserted the phrase “when I again assure you, that I have no powers to authorize the rais⟨g⟩ of new Corps.”