George Washington Papers

From George Washington to a Board of General Officers, 2 June 1778

To a Board of General Officers

Head Quarters Valley Forge June 2d 1778


The business of your meeting, this morning, is to take into consideration and report your opinion, concerning Lt. Col: Du Plessis’ claim of rank and service, in the corps of Artillery, to which he was annexed by an order of Congress. Colonel Du Plessis will produce to the Board the papers on which his pretensions are founded.1 There are herewith my answer to a memorial, from the officers of Artillery on this subject, and a second memorial from them in reply2—Their first has been, by some accident, mislaid; but I have directed them to furnish you with a copy of it. In the issue to which the matter is now brought, whatever may be contained, in my answer, can only be considered as declarative of my opinion, and can have no influence in deciding the question. I wish to have the sentiments of the Board, accurately and explicitly, as to the nature and operation of Mr Du Plessis late appointment; specifying the particular species of service, in which he ought to be employed, in the corps of Artillery; in giving which they will, no doubt, pay proper attention to former decisions of a similar kind.3 I am Gentlemen Your most Obd. servant

Go: Washington

LS, in Alexander Hamilton’s writing, DLC:GW; Df, DLC:GW; Varick transcript, DLC:GW.

1For information on Mauduit Du Plessis’s promotion, see Henry Laurens to GW, 22 January; see also Mauduit Du Plessis to GW, 25 May.

2See Continental Artillery Officers to GW, 10 Feb., and GW’s reply of 2 March. No “second memorial” from the officers has been identified.

3The report of the Board of General Officers, signed on this date by Henry Knox, Enoch Poor, Anthony Wayne, John Paterson, Peter Muhlenberg, Jedediah Huntington, Duportail, Charles Lee, Benedict Arnold, Stirling, Thomas Mifflin, Lafayette, and Steuben, reads: “At a Board of General Officers at General Knox’s Quarters 2d June 1778 by Order of the Commander in Chief ‘to enquire into, and report their Opinions of, the Nature and Operation of Mr Duplessis late Appointment as Lieutenant Colonel;’ and ‘to specify the particular Species of Service in which he ought to be employd in the Corps of Artillery.’

“The different Papers referrd to on the Claims of Mr Duplessis, and the Objections of the Officers of the Corps of Artillery to those Claims, being considred, the Board give it as their Opinion, that it is clearly and indisputably the Intention of Congress, (and the Brevet granted and the Resolve passd by them give validity to this Intention) that Monsr Duplessis should have Rank in the Line of the Army as Lieutenant Colonel; that he is annexd especially to the Totality or Aggregate of the Line of Artillery; and, on all Duties by Detachment with that Corps, that he is to take Rank of Lieutenant Colonel from the Date of the said Resolve” (DLC:GW). For more on this dispute, see General Orders, 5 June, and GW to Edward Wigglesworth, 10 June.

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