George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Captain Isaac Craig, 18 March 1779

From Captain Isaac Craig

Philada March 18th 1779

May it please your Excellency

In Consequence of your Letter to Col: Procter1 the Officers of his Regiment received Orders to State their several Claims to promotion And in Order that the Validity of each may appear with the greater perspicuity we are directed to draw them up in as explicit a Manner as possible.

It is with reluctance I give your Excellency and further Trouble respecting my Claim than stating the rank I have the Honor to hold at present in the Regiment—But lest it should be necessary that my former Rank and Service be enquired into I beg Leave to lay before your Excellency the following facts—At the beginning of the Contest I was one of the first that stept forth to Assert and defend the rights of my Country And was early thought worthy a Command in the Militia—The Twenty ninth of November 1775 I had the Command of a Company of Marines conferred on me and served in that Capacity on Board the Andrew Doria near ten Months soon after my return to this Port in November 1776 I was ordered with my own and some other Companies of Marines to join the Army under your Excellency’s immediate Command and continued doing the Duty of Infantry during all the severity of that Winter’s Campaign.—In February we were ordered to join the Artillery and learn that Duty which Orders I gladly received As I had already acquired a considerable Knowledge both in the Theory and Practice of Gunnery and Projectives—Arts, I always delighted in—The third of March 1777 The Honorable Council of this State were pleased to appoint me a Captain of Artillery in the Regiment then forming under the Command of Colonel Thomas Procter in Consequence of which I applied to his Excellency John Hancock then President of the Marine Committe for Permission of removal from the Marine Service into the Artillery which was accordingly granted—I received my appointment in the Artillery still considering myself intitled to rank from the Date of my Marine Commission which I still hold and by which I have alway taken Rank on Courts-Martial as provided by a resolve of Congress that Officers of Marines shall rank as Officers of Infantry2—I presume it is unnecessary to point out the Manner I discharged my Duty—I hope it will be sufficient to say the Honorable General Knox is acquainted both with my Abilities and Diligence as an Officer of Artillery—To your Excellency’s Candid determination I beg Leave to submit my Claims & to subscribe myself Your Excellency’s devoted And most Obedt humble Servant

I. Craig Capt.


Isaac Craig (c.1742–1826) was born to Presbyterian parents near Hillsborough in County Down, Northern Ireland, and immigrated about 1766 to Philadelphia, where he worked as a house carpenter before the Revolutionary War. Appointed a first lieutenant in the Continental marines in November 1775, Craig was promoted to captain in October 1776 shortly before the marines joined GW’s army (see Craig to GW, 23 Feb. 1782, DLC:GW). In March 1777, as Craig says in this letter, he became a captain in Col. Thomas Proctor’s 4th Continental Artillery Regiment (see Pa. Archives description begins Samuel Hazard et al., eds. Pennsylvania Archives. 9 ser., 138 vols. Philadelphia and Harrisburg, 1852–1949. description ends , 5th ser., 3:972, 1011). Although Craig was designated as major in the new arrangement of Proctor’s regiment that the Board of War approved in early June 1779, he was denied promotion at that time on grounds that he was the most senior captain only in his regiment, not in the whole artillery corps as the artillery promotion rules required (see Peter Scull to GW, 2 June 1779; GW to the Board of War, 6 June 1779; Craig to GW, 23 Feb. 1782; Andrew Porter to GW, 2 March 1782; and GW to Craig, 16 March 1782, all DLC:GW; see also the petition that Craig and other Pennsylvania artillery officers wrote to the Pennsylvania Supreme Executive Council on 20 March 1780, objecting to that mode of promotion, DLC:GW). Craig was promoted to major of the regiment in March 1782 with a commission backdated to 7 Oct. 1781 (see Pa. Col. Records description begins Colonial Records of Pennsylvania. 16 vols. Harrisburg, 1840–53. description ends , 13:223, 233). He served in Proctor’s regiment until it was furloughed in June 1783, but he often was on detached duty. From February to August 1778 Craig was posted at the ammunition laboratory at Carlisle, Pa., to learn about munitions manufacturing, and from April to June 1779 he commanded the fort at Billingsport (now Paulsboro), N.J., about twelve miles down the Delaware River from Philadelphia. During the summer of 1779, Craig served with Proctor’s regiment on Maj. Gen. John Sullivan’s expedition against the Six Nations. In April 1780 Craig was ordered to march a detachment of artillery and artillery artificers to Fort Pitt, where he was stationed for the remainder of the war (see the Board of War’s two letters to Craig of 20 April 1780 in Pa. Archives description begins Samuel Hazard et al., eds. Pennsylvania Archives. 9 ser., 138 vols. Philadelphia and Harrisburg, 1852–1949. description ends , 3:966–67). Craig returned briefly to Philadelphia in the spring of 1781 to obtain ordnance stores for Brig. Gen. George Rogers Clark’s abortive expedition against Detroit, on which he served from July to November 1781 (see Isaac Craig to GW, 15 April and 7 Dec. 1781, and GW to Craig, 25 April 1781, all DLC:GW). During the summer of 1782, Craig supervised extensive repairs to Fort Pitt (see William Irvine to GW, 29 Oct. 1782, DLC:GW). At the end of the war, Craig settled in the newly established town of Pittsburgh, where he became a prominent business and civic leader. He was elected a member of the American Philosophical Society in 1787, and from 1791 to 1800 he was deputy quartermaster general and military storekeeper at Pittsburgh for the U.S. Army. In 1796 Craig assisted GW in advertising the sale of his western lands (see GW to Craig, 13 Feb. 1796, ICHi, and Craig to GW, 8 March 1796, DLC:GW). Craig and James O’Hara established in Pittsburgh the first glass factory west of the Alleghenies in 1797, and during the War of 1812, Craig helped to manufacture munitions for the U.S. Army (for more on Craig’s life, see Neville B. Craig, Sketch of the Life and Services of Isaac Craig... [Pittsburgh, Pa., 1854]).

2Congress passed this resolution on 30 Oct. 1776 (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 , 6:913).

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