George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Major General John Sullivan, 9 March 1779

From Major General John Sullivan

Providence March 9th 1779,

Dear General,

I have the hono’r to inform your Excellency, that some time after Colo. Jacksons Corps arriv’d in this department, a number of his Officers presented a Memorial to me, setting forth, that, Colo. Jackson did not behave as He shoud have done in the Action of Monmouth, and expressing their dissatisfaction, in being commanded by an Officer, whose Courage and Conduct, they had powerful reasons to dispute; They likewise, requested, that a Court of Inquiry shou’d be immediately appointed, and they might be heard upon the occasion.1 As this Event took place but a few days before our March to Rhode Island, I in consequence, calld the General officers together, and they unanimously coincided with me in opinion that, however well founded the Charges alledg’d might prove on examination, the application at that time, was improper, and it wou’d (then) have been as improper in me, to have comply’d with their Prayer. My Answer to the Memorialists, was agreeable to this Sentiment; Since which, I have heard nothing on the Subject before this day; when, Colo. Jackson waited upon, and assurd me, that it was originally his intention, from the Moment he was appriz’d of the Report, to have demanded a Court of Inquiry, but delayd it, for reasons, which, He assignd me, and which, He proposes laying before the Court. As those Objections are now obviated, and his Accusers are Still under his immediate Command, or in the nieghbourhood, He has requested me, to beg your Excellency, to direct, that a Court be held, at a short date, in this department; or wherever, your Excellency may think proper.2 I have the hono’r to subscribe myself with all imaginable Esteem Yr Excellency’s, very hble Servt

Jno. Sullivan


1Sullivan is referring to a petition of 26 July 1778 to him from sixteen officers who were upset that “many Gentlemen of General Washington’s Army have very freely deliver’d Sentiments unfavourable to the Detachments under the Command of Colo. Henry Jackson respecting their Conduct at the Battle of Monmouth” and desired the appointment of a court of inquiry to investigate their presumption of Jackson’s “Misconduct Confusion and Disobedience of Orders” (Hammond, Sullivan Papers description begins Otis G. Hammond, ed. Letters and Papers of Major-General John Sullivan, Continental Army. 3 vols. Concord, 1930-39. In Collections of the New Hampshire Historical Society, vols. 13–15. description ends , 2:124–25).

2For GW’s response that the matter did not merit his attention because a lower-ranking general could order this court, see his letter to Sullivan of 19 March, and n.3; see also GW to Nathaniel Jarvis, 13 June 1778, General Orders, 16 June 1778, and Henry Jackson to GW, that date.

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