George Washington Papers

From George Washington to Major Isaac Beall, 31 March 1778

To Major Isaac Beall

Head Quarters [Valley Forge] 31st March 1778.


I have received your Letter of this date inclosing your Commission.1 The frequency of Resignations throughout the army is truly alarming,2 in the Virginia Line this Spirit unhappily seems to rage like an epidemical disease—I am at a loss to account how Gentlemen can reconcile such an abandonment of the Public Interest, at this crisis of our Affairs,3 either with the principles of honor or their duty to themselves and their Country—if however you think yourself warranted, and are determined to quit the Army, I must at least insist upon your retaining your Commission till the Arrival of more Officers in Camp.4 I am Sir Your most obedt Servt

Go: Washington

LS, in John Laurens’s writing, InCW; Df, DLC:GW; Varick transcript, DLC:GW.

1Beall’s letter has not been found.

2At least two other officers submitted resignations to GW on this date. Lt. Jonathan Allen of the 2d Massachusetts Regiment wrote, “my Health Being Injured and I thereby Becoming Unfit for the Hardships of the Camp am Constrained to ask a Discharge” (DNA: RG 93, manuscript file no. 2388). Ens. Nathan Thayer of the 13th Massachusetts Regiment explained: “I have a Family My Pay is inadequate to their Support; my Lands are new and uncultivated. Wherefore there is an absolute Necessity of my being at Home” (DNA: RG 93, manuscript file no. 2295).

3The preceding phrase is not in the draft.

4Beall was apparently the ranking officer of the 4th Virginia Regiment at this time because Col. Robert Lawson had submitted his resignation to GW on 17 Dec. 1777 and Lt. Col. William Taliaferro, who had been captured at the Battle of Brandywine, died in February 1778. Although Thomas Gaskins became lieutenant colonel of the regiment in May, the colonelcy remained vacant until September. Beall retained his commission until 19 June, when he submitted it to GW in a letter from Williamsburg, Virginia.

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