To Lieutenant Colonel Samuel Smith
He[a]d [Quarters, Fishkill, 5 October 1778]1
I have attentively considered the memorial you delivered me in behalf of a respectable number of officers in the Maryland line, requesting the restoration of Capt. Norwood2—It gives me real pain, that I find myself obliged to refuse their request; but the duty I owe to justice and impartiality outweighs every other consideration.3 Notwithstanding the honorable testimony which is given of the general good character of Capt. Norwood; his conduct in the whole of the transaction, which has terminated in his present misfortune, so far as may be judged from the complexion of the public proceedings in his case must be viewed by every unbiassed mind, as, in an high degree, blameable.4
The5 violation of the rules of military discipline and decorum, and the6 injuries offered to General Smallwood put it out of my power as the affair is now circumstanced to show the indulgence solicited, without essentially wounding the honor of that Gentleman, and7 encouraging a8 pernicious example in the army. If Capt. Norwood is sensible of9 his indiscretion, it will be in his power to make atonement;10 and when it could be done with propriety, I should take pleasure, in remitting the consequences of his error. I am Sir Your most Obedt servt.
Df, in Alexander Hamilton’s writing, DLC:GW; Varick transcript, DLC:GW.
1. GW’s aide-de-camp Richard Kidder Meade docketed the draft manuscript: “Octor 5th 1778 to Lt. Colo. Saml Smith respecting Capt. Norwood.”
2. GW had received two almost identically worded petitions of 3 Oct. regarding Capt. Edward Norwood: one signed by thirty-three officers of the 1st Maryland Brigade and the other one signed by fifty-six officers of the 2d Maryland Brigade. Included among the signers of the latter petition were Cols. Josias Carvil Hall and Otho Holland Williams and Lt. Col. Samuel Smith.
The most pertinent part of the 1st Brigade’s petition, which is identical in wording to the same part in the 2d Brigade’s petition, reads: “Captain Norwood was among the first in the Service of his Country and has always conducted himself in such a manner as to command the Friendship and esteem of those with whom he has served as an Officer of merit and a man of Honor.
“We consider your Excellencys disapprobation as the severest punishment an Officer can suffer and as we are sure you are ever more ready to pardon than punish when consistent with the great duties of your Station. We beg leave to recommend Captain Norwood to your Excellencys favour having the most entire confidence in his prudence and earnest desire to approve himself worthy of being restored to his former Command in the Army We feel ourselves interested for Captain Norwood being perfectly convinced that he has abilities and a disposition to obliterate his present Misfortune to do Honor to himself and service to his Country” (both DS manuscripts are in DLC:GW; for Norwood’s courts-martial of 2 June and 22 Aug. 1778, and GW’s opinions on them, see William Smallwood to GW, 8 June 1778, and General Orders, 11 June, 4 and 29 Sept.).
3. At this place on the draft manuscript, Hamilton first wrote and then struck out the phrase: “and forbids my compliance.”
4. At this place on the draft manuscript, Hamilton first wrote “culpable.” He then struck out that word and wrote “blameable” above the line. Following this word on the draft manuscript, Hamilton wrote and then struck out the following phrase: “The last acts of it, his defence, was an aggravation of every thing that had gone before, and contained such gross injury and insult to General Smallwood.” For the charges of which Capt. Edward Norwood had been convicted, see General Orders, 29 September.
5. At this place on the draft manuscript, Hamilton first wrote and then struck out the word: “repeated.”
6. At this place on the draft manuscript, Hamilton first wrote and then struck out the words: “gross insults and.”
7. At this place on the draft manuscript, Hamilton first wrote and then struck out the word: “setting.”
8. At this place on the draft manuscript, Hamilton first wrote and then struck out the word: “very.”
9. At this place on the draft manuscript, Hamilton first wrote: “his error and.” He then struck out those words and wrote “his” above the line.
10. At this place on the draft manuscript, Hamilton first wrote: “Unless that is done; I shall be compelled to let the sentence have its full operation.” He then struck out that phrase, and wrote the remainder of this sentence below the closing.