George Washington Papers

From George Washington to Brigadier General James Mitchell Varnum, 9 April 1778

To Brigadier General James Mitchell Varnum

Head Quarters [Valley Forge] 9th April 1778.


However contrary to my wish and inclination it is to refuse the requests of my Officers, there are cases in which duty requires a sacrifice of my feelings—it is upon this principle that I find myself under the disagreeable necessity of disapproving the application which you have made for leave of absence1—for I cannot think myself warranted in suffering the Army to be deprived2 of its best bulwark, good Officers, at a time when we cannot, from one moment to another, assure ourselves of inactivity on the part of the enemy—General Huntington’s leave of absence was partly obtained because your Stay was regarded as certain3—if you were to go at this time, your Division would be without a single General Officer, when our circumstances rather demand the presence of them all.

For these reasons I hope you will renounce all thoughts of quitting Camp—and endeavour to conciliate your happiness with the public Interest and the good of the Service.

Df, in John Laurens’s writing, DLC:GW; Varick transcript, DLC:GW. The draft was originally dated 8th April.

2This word was written on the manuscript above the original word “stripped,” which was not struck out.

3When on 16 Mar., Brig. Gen. Jedediah Huntington was ordered to New York to sit on a court of inquiry, it was understood that after finishing that duty he would be free to visit Connecticut (see Jedediah Huntington to Jabez Huntington, 15–17 Mar., Huntington Papers description begins Huntington Papers: Correspondence of the Brothers Joshua and Jedediah Huntington during the Period of the American Revolution. Hartford, 1923. In Collections of the Connecticut Historical Society, vol. 20. description ends , 405–6). He returned to Valley Forge on 28 May.

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