George Washington Papers

To George Washington from the Officers of Colonel Henry Jackson’s Detachment, 8 March 1779

From the Officers of Colonel Henry Jackson’s Detachment

Pawtuxet [R.I.] March 8th 1779

May it please your Excellency

We the Officers of Colo. Henry Jackson’s Detachment, in behalf of Ourselves and Soldiers, beg leave to represent to your Excellency—

That the State of Massachusetts Bay have been pleased, by various Resolves, at different times, to grant Gratuities to the Officers and Soldiers belonging to the fifteen Battalions raised in that State; some of those Gratuities they have also been pleased to allow the Officers and Soldiers of this Detachment; but from the principal ones, vizt certain sums of money arising from a Lottery provided for the purpose and other sums granted to make good in part the depreciation of money since the time of the Establishment of our pay, we are entirely excluded:1 as also from the Benefit of a Resolve declaring, among other Things, that they will at the close of the War fully make good to said Officers and Soldiers their pay, taking for a Standard the price of certain Articles as set forth in the Resolve.

This Exclusion of us has caused great Uneasinesses among our Soldiers; more especially as in said Resolve it is also provided, that the Families of the Soldiers in the before mentioned fifteen Battalions should be furnished by the Towns to which they respectively belong with Provisions and other Necessaries of Life at a reasonable and stated price, so that while their Families are living at least with Comfort and Convenience, the Families of the Soldiers of this Detachment are enduring all the Hardships attendant on Poverty and Want.2

These Considerations have induced us as deeply interested in and warmly concerned for the Welfare of our Soldiers, their Families and Ourselves, to apply to your Excellency as knowing our Appointment and Establishment and most capable of procuring us Assistance and Releif in Circumstances so disagreable.

We have applied to the State for an equal Allowance, setting forth the Evils we feared would ensue from this Exclusion,3 and tho’ all we fear’d has not taken place, yet it has produced so general an Uneasiness and discontent, that we imagine it would in our present Situation be but a bare Remove from an Impossibility to reinlist a single Soldier.

We have been inform’d that this Exclusion proceeds not from an Unwillingness in the State, to place us on an equal footing with the fifteen Battalions, or to grant us all the Privileges granted them; but from their having no Assurance that our Men will be reckoned as part of the Quota of Men allotted said State to raise. Could they be assured this would be the Case (which they not only are willing, but wish should) they will immediately adopt and grant to us all the privileges granted their other Troops.

After thus briefly and generally describing our Situation, we have to intreat of your Excellency, that you would use your Influence with the hon’ble the Congress, setting forth our Situation as now represented to your Excellency, that they may, either themselves grant us the like privileges with other Officers and Soldiers from the same State or cause the Assembly of said State to be inform’d that we shall be esteem’d as a part of the Quota allotted them to raise as above mentioned; that thus our Soldiers may experience the same Benefits enjoyed by those of the said fifteen Battalions and we be freed from the many solicitous & affecting Applications from Men in distress; deserving a better Fate.

We cannot at this time but mention our disagreable Situation as Officers and beg your Excellency’s Interposition in our Behalf; at present as three Regiments we have several Companies without a Commisioned Officer belonging to them; several with but one and not a Company with it’s Complement. This Situation your Excellency must know, to say the least, cannot be pleasing; We have been inform’d that the three Regiments were to be reduced to one, this Consideration has kept us contented; expecting e’er long to see an End to our present Situation, we mention this wishing your Excellency to procure the expediting the Arrangement if there is one, if none that there may be one or the Vacancies in the Regiments filled up.4

Having thus concisely laid before your Excellency the Situation of ourselves & our Soldiers we have only to add our hearty desire for a speedy and full Completion of our Wishes for Releif and Assistance; & having full Confidence in your Excellency’s readiness to afford every Aid in your Power to the distress’d of every degree, we doubt not of receiving such an Answer to this as will be perfectly agreable and acceptable both to Ourselves and our Soldiers.5 We have the Honor to be (in Behalf of the Officers & Soldiers of said Detachment) with the greatest Respect and Esteem—Yr Excellency’s most Obedt & Humble Servts


H: Jackson
Lem. Trescott
J. Hobby
Saml Cogswell
Thos Edwards

LS, enclosed in GW to John Jay, 20 March 1779, DNA:PCC, item 78. The cover is addressed to “His Excellency General Washington per Express.”

John Hobby (1749–1802) joined Jackson’s Additional Continental Regiment as a lieutenant in February 1777 and was commissioned captain-lieutenant in April 1779. He transferred to the 9th Massachusetts Regiment in January 1781, became a captain that July, and then transferred to the 3d Massachusetts Regiment in May 1782. Hobby was retained in the 1st American Regiment in November 1783 and remained in the army until 20 June 1784. He subsequently moved to Portland, Maine, served as U.S. marshal for the District of Maine, 1793–98, suffered financial reverses, and died impoverished.

Samuel Cogswell (1754–1790) joined Col. William R. Lee’s Additional Continental Regiment as a lieutenant in July 1777. Due to consolidation, Cogswell transferred to Jackson’s Additional Regiment, which was designated the 16th Massachusetts Regiment on 23 July 1780. He served in three other Massachusetts regiments before completing his army service in November 1783. Cogswell died in a hunting accident near Lansingburg, New York.

Thomas Edwards (1753–1806) joined Jackson’s Additional Regiment as a lieutenant in May 1777. A Harvard graduate who read law before the war, he was appointed deputy judge-advocate in April 1780 and judge-advocate in October 1782. He served in the army until November 1783 and then practiced law in Boston.

1Jackson and his compatriots are referring to resolutions that passed the Massachusetts Council on 1 May 1778. The first resolution authorized “gratuity” payments to the officers and men in “the Fifteen Battalions raised in this State, and who were in Camp on or before the Fifteenth day of August last” (“Mass. Council Journal,” Aug. 1777–Oct. 1778 sess description begins In Journals, Minutes, and Proceedings, State of Massachusetts Bay, 1775–1780. (Microfilm Collection of Early State Records.) description ends ., 519). Designated sums were of $150 to each field officer; $120 to each captain, subaltern, and staff officer; and $100 to each non-commissioned officer and private. To fund this initiative, the second resolution authorized “a Lottery or Lotteries” to raise “a Sum not exceeding Seven hundred and fifty Thousand Dollars” (“Mass. Council Journal,” Aug. 1777–Oct. 1778 sess description begins In Journals, Minutes, and Proceedings, State of Massachusetts Bay, 1775–1780. (Microfilm Collection of Early State Records.) description ends ., 519–20). Another resolution was passed on 26 Sept. directing that the officers and soldiers be paid their gratuities by 1 Dec. 1778 (see “Mass. Council Journal,” Aug. 1777–Oct. 1778 sess description begins In Journals, Minutes, and Proceedings, State of Massachusetts Bay, 1775–1780. (Microfilm Collection of Early State Records.) description ends ., 644).

2Jackson and his compatriots are referring here to a resolution that passed the Massachusetts Council on 4 Feb. 1779 that directed town officials “to supply the Families of all Non-Commissioned Officers and private Soldiers enlisted from their respective Towns or Plantations (for three years or during the War in the Fifteen Battalions raised by this State) with Necessaries in manner directed by a Resolve of the Great and General Court of this State” passed on 10 Oct. 1777, “And to keep an exact account of all such Supplies to the intent, that the Towns may finally have the same paid by the State and also that such Supplies may be Charged to the said Non-Commissioned Officers and private Soldiers when their Pay, on which they entered the Service, shall be made good to them as is hereinafter provided.” Towns that failed to comply with the directives to assist families would be assessed a penalty tax. To benefit the families of commissioned and staff officers, the resolution provided on a defined schedule £300 to each eligible field officer, £200 to each eligible captain, chaplain, surgeon, and surgeon’s mate, and £150 to each eligible subaltern. Additionally, this resolution committed the Massachusetts government “at the close of the present War” to pay officers and soldiers, or their heirs, sums to offset the depreciation of their wages unless “Congress shall make the Wages of said Officers and Soldiers good to them” (“Mass. Council Journal,” Oct. 1778–Sept. 1779 sess., 75–77; resolution misdated 6 Feb. 1779 in Mass. Resolves 1778–79, 100). For the resolution that the Massachusetts Council approved on 10 Oct. 1777 to have the towns of the state supply, “at reasonable rates, the Families of such Non-Commissioned Officers and private Soldiers as have engaged in the Continental Army,” see “Mass. Council Journal,” Feb.–Oct. 1777 sess description begins In Journals, Minutes, and Proceedings, State of Massachusetts Bay, 1775–1780. (Microfilm Collection of Early State Records.) description ends ., 102–4.

3Jackson and his compatriots probably are referring to the petition delivered on 15 Jan. 1779 to the Massachusetts House of Representatives by Maj. John Steel Tyler “in behalf of the Officers” of the Additional Continental Regiments commanded by colonels Jackson, David Henley, and William Raymond Lee “praying the Court to grant them the same Privileges that the Officers of the fifteen Battalions raised in this State are intitled to by a Resolve of the 1st of May last” (Mass. House of Rep. Journal, May 1778–May 1779 sess., 100). For the gratuity payments authorized by the resolution of 1 May 1778, see n.1.

4The Additional Regiments of colonels Henley and Lee were ordered consolidated into Jackson’s Additional Regiment on 22 April 1779.

5Congress passed a resolution on 15 March to address the concerns described by Jackson and his fellow officers, whose grievances were similar to those of other Additional Continental Regiments (see 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 , 13:316–18; see also John Jay to GW, 15 March, and n.1 to that document, and 24 March [first letter]). GW replied to Jackson in a letter of 19 March.

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