George Washington Papers

From George Washington to John Jay, 3 March 1779

To John Jay

Head Quarters Middle Brook March 3d 1779


I have received the letter which Your Excellency did me the honor to write of the 26th of last Month, together with the two resolves of Congress and the other inclosures referred to in it.

A plan of offensive operations for the effectual relief of the Western frontier has been some time since determined upon and preparations are making in consequence. I endeavour to observe as much secrecy as possible.

In the late proceedings of the Committee of arrangement respecting the sixteen additional1 batalions, it has been determined to incorporate Malcolm’s and Spencer’s regiments into one, and Webb’s and Shelburnes into another—It is left undecided who shall be the Colonel and Lieutenant Colonel in the first, and who the Colonel in the last. By the resolve of Congress of the 4th of frebruary, directing the Commander in Chief to complete the arrangement of the army, the decision of this matter devolves upon him.2 In giving this general direction, I am persuaded, the particular case of these officers did not occur to the attention of Congress; otherwise they would have been sensible of the delicacy of my undertaking to decide in an affair of this nature; especially where officers of such character and rank are concerned.

I shall be happy, if Congress3 think proper to take the matter into their consideration and will favour me with the result as speedily as possible. The officers interested are very anxious to know their fate and the service will suffer from delay.4 I have the honor to be With perfect respect and esteem Sir Your most Obedt servt

Go: Washington

P.S. In the incorporation of Sherburn’s and Webb’s regiments—I observe a note, that “Colo Sherburne is to command at present.” If he is not to be continued in command, he will hardly like to remain in it, ’till Col. Webb can be exchanged, then to relinquish it to him.

LS, in Alexander Hamilton’s writing, DNA:PCC, item 152; Df, DLC:GW; copy, DNA:PCC, item 169; Varick transcript, DLC:GW. Congress read this letter on 8 March and referred it to the Board of War (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 , 13:289).

1This word does not appear on the draft manuscript.

2For this resolution, see Jay to GW, 5 Feb., n.1 (see also 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 , 13:143).

3At this place on the draft manuscript, Hamilton first wrote “will.” He subsequently struck out that word and inserted the phrase “should think it proper to,” which he then revised by striking out the words “should” and “it.”

4On 25 April, Col. William Malcom yielded to Col. Oliver Spencer the command of the new regiment formed by consolidating Spencer’s Additional Regiment with Col. David Forman’s Additional Regiment and the New York companies from Malcom’s Additional Regiment (see Malcom to GW, 24 and 25 April, both DLC:GW; see also Spencer to GW, 14 April and two letters of 30 April [1] [2]; GW to Malcom, 17–18 and 29 April; GW to Spencer, 29 April; and Malcom to GW, 1 May; all DLC:GW). The consolidated regiment was called Spencer’s Additional Regiment until it was disbanded on 1 Jan. 1781. William Stephens Smith became the regiment’s lieutenant colonel. Col. Samuel Blachley Webb’s and Col. Henry Sherburne’s Additional Continental Regiments were not consolidated with each other, but continued as separate regiments through the next two campaigns.

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