To Colonel Otho Holland Williams et al.
Head Quarters [Middlebrook] May the 10th 1779
I have been favoured with Your Arrangement of the Maryland line from the Captains to the Ensigns inclusive, and with your Letter of the 4th Instant to General Smallwood upon the subject.1 I find by comparing it with the Arrangement made by the Board of General Officers,2 that there is a difference as you express. In the Latter, Captains Oldham & Gishline have arranged as the 26 & 27 Captains; whereas in Yours the first is Numbered the 30th and the last the 33d, Sundry Captains not named by the Board of General Officers being placed respectively before them.3
As those Two Officers (Oldham & Gishline) were commissioned by the State and stand in the Arrangement made by the Board of General Officers No. 26 & 27 in the list of Captains; You will be pleased to report the causes which induced you to think, that they ought to be postponed respectively to Captns—Morris—Williams—Gaither—Grace—prawl and Walker; and which prevented the Latter from receiving Commissions and being arranged before them till this period.4 You have only observed in general terms—that you were of Opinion that several of the first Lieutenants (under which description these Gentlemen were) were entitled to Companies before some Captains mentioned in the Arran⟨gem⟩ent of the Board of General Officers ⟨a⟩nd therefore had arranged them accordingly. I must request your earliest attention to this business, it being my earnest wish to complete the arrangement as soon as it can be done—upon the best plan that circumstances will admit of.5
You will be pleased to return me All the papers I transmit. I am Gentlemen with great regard & esteem Yr Most Obedt servt
LS, in Robert Hanson Harrison’s writing, PHi: Dreer Collection; Df, DLC:GW; Varick transcript, DLC:GW. The letter was addressed to Williams, lieutenant colonels Peter Adams and Thomas Woolford, and majors John Eager Howard and John Steward.
1. The arrangement and letter to Brig. Gen. William Smallwood have not been identified.
2. For the background of this project to settle rank in the Maryland line, and the disputes over GW’s authority to determine rank, see Nathaniel Ewing to GW, 9 March, and notes 4 and 5 to that document. On 2 March, GW asked Smallwood and the commanders of the Maryland Continental regiments to consider the officers’ ranks, and on 8 April he appointed a Board of General Officers to come up with a final arrangement. The Board sent its arrangement to GW five days later and recommended that a committee of officers be appointed to consider “the relative rank & promotions of all Subalterns.” GW wrote to Smallwood on 15 April enclosing the report, and asked him to appoint the committee on subalterns. Williams chaired that committee. (See GW to William Smallwood and the Field Officers of the Maryland Line, 2 March; General Orders, 8 April; GW to Thomas Johnson, 8 April; GW to a Board of General Officers, 9 April; GW to Daniel of St. Thomas Jenifer and William Fitzhugh, 10 April; a Board of General Officers to GW, 13 April; and GW to William Smallwood, 15 April).
3. Edward Oldham (1756–1798) served as a first lieutenant in the Maryland militia in May 1776 and as a first lieutenant in the 1st Maryland Battalion of the flying camp, July–December 1776. He joined the 4th Maryland Regiment in December 1776 and was promoted to captain in May 1777. Oldham transferred to the 5th Maryland Regiment in January 1781 and to the 1st Maryland Regiment in January 1783, and served until the end of the war. John Ghiselin (1754–1809) served in 1776 as a first lieutenant in the Frederick County, Md., militia, and in the 1st Maryland Battalion of the flying camp, and was appointed a captain in the 6th Maryland Regiment in July 1777. He resigned his commission in June 1779.
4. Jonathan Morris (b. 1753), who had served as a sergeant and second lieutenant in the Frederick County, Md., militia, 1775–76, was appointed a first lieutenant in the 7th Maryland Regiment in December 1776, and was promoted to captain in December 1777 with a commission backdated to April 1777. Wounded and taken prisoner at the Battle of Camden in August 1780, Morris subsequently was exchanged and transferred to the 2d Maryland Regiment in January 1781, remaining in the service until April 1783. Henry Gaither (c.1751–1811) was appointed an ensign in Col. William Smallwood’s Maryland Regiment in January 1776 and served later that year as a first lieutenant in the 1st Maryland Battalion of the flying camp. He was appointed a first lieutenant in the 1st Maryland Regiment in December 1776 and was promoted to captain in April 1777. Gaither transferred to the 4th Maryland Regiment in January 1781 and returned to the 1st Maryland Regiment in January 1783, serving until April of that year. He was appointed a major in the U.S. Army in April 1792, became a lieutenant colonel in October 1793, and left the army in June 1802. “Walker” apparently is a mistaken reference to Capt. Walker Muse of the 1st Maryland Regiment; see n.5.
5. Williams and his fellow officers replied on 11 May: “The Committee of Field Officers for the settlement of Rank of the Subalterns in the Maryland line, in answer to His Excelly General Washington’s letter of the 10th Instant beg leave to Report That Lieutenant John Smith was entitled to a Captaincy in the 3rd Regiment the 1st Jany 1777 in place of Chew who never accepted, previous to Captn Hawkins appointment by Assembly.
“That Lieut. Jonathan Morris was Entitled to a Captaincy the 14 April 77 on Desertion of Deams.
“That Lieut. Lilburn Williams was entitled to a Captaincy in the 2nd Regiment 17th April 77 on promotion of Steward.
“That Lieutenant Henry Gaither was entitled to a Captcy in the 1st Regiment the 17th April 77 in place of Dent who never accepted.
“That Lieutenant Richard Grace was entitled to a Captcy in the 2nd Regiment in place of Dent who never accepted—All previous to the Date of Captain Oldhams Commission who was appointed on Resignation of Yates.
“That Lt Edward Prawl was entitled to a Captaincy on the 10th June 77 on Resignation of Harwood and That Lieut. Walter Muse was entitled to a Captaincy on the same Day on the Resignation of Murray both previous to the Date of Captn Ghiselins Commission granted by Assembly.
“That this Committee have left Captain Dorsey out of their arrangement because he has been Releas’d from Captivity almost two Years and has never join’d or signified his intentions of joining the Regiment into which he was appointed.
“This Committee cannot answer ‘What prevented these Lieutenants from Receiving Commissions and being arranged before the Captains ’till this Period.’ But are of Opinion it was omitted for the same reasons which induced the Assembly of Maryland to refer the settlement of Rank to Your Excellency and bec⟨ause⟩ of the general irregularity and Confusion wh⟨ich⟩ have so long prevented regular promotions ⟨to⟩ take place in the Maryland line” (DNA: RG 93, War Dept.; the letter was signed by Williams, Adams, and Woolford). A Board of General Officers confirmed this report on 20 May (see GW to a Board of General Officers, that date). For further documents concerning the arrangement of the Maryland Continental officers, see General Orders, 19 May; GW to a Board of General Officers, 20 May; to William Smallwood et al., 21 May; to Thomas Johnson, 28 May; and to the Board of War, 30 May.