George Washington Papers

From George Washington to Jeremiah Wadsworth, 3 March 1779

To Jeremiah Wadsworth

Head Quarters Middlebrook 3 March 1779.


General Sullivan in a letter of the 20th Ulto mentions a civil process, carried on by the commissaries against a Capn Session, for purchasing provision in contravention of an express law of the State of Connecticut, which forbids under a large penalty, such proceedings, but by persons properly appointed.

He has likewise requested a military court for the tryal of the commissary who is the principal object of his complaint.1

I have advised a suspension for the present, and mentioned that I would suggest to you a compromise, and the withdrawing if practicable the suit. There may be a mixture of passion on both sides, and perhaps on the whole, the matter had better be adjusted in an amicable manner, than carried thro’ a court of justice and a court martial.

The commissary, or person who prosecutes, will reflect, that altho’ the law is express and positive,2 yet a jury in considering the necessity of the case3 may be induced to bring in an opinion favourable to the defendant.

On the whole, I would recommend it to you, to use your endeavours for a friendly adjustment of the matter4—And am sir Your very hble servt

Go: Washington

LS, in James McHenry’s writing, CtHi: Jeremiah Wadsworth Papers; Df (mutilated), DLC:GW; Varick transcript, DLC:GW.

1The letter of 20 Feb. from John Sullivan to GW has not been found. For the Connecticut embargo law mentioned by GW and the dispute between Amasa Sessions and Col. Samuel McClellan arising from Sullivan’s actions to procure provisions in Connecticut for the Continental army in Rhode Island during the previous autumn, see GW to Sullivan, this date, and n.6.

2McHenry wrote “positive” before “express” on the draft manuscript.

3At this place on the draft manuscript, McHenry wrote and then struck out an incomplete thought, which reads “and the urgency of an immediate.”

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