George Washington Papers

To George Washington from James Duane, 15 May 1779

From James Duane

Philad. 15th May 1779.

Dear Sir

I find myself under the necessity of expressing my wishes that it may be agreeable to your Excellency to transfer the non commissiond officers and Privates, Citizens of New York, late of Col. Malcolms Regiment, to one of the Battallions of that State. after the Resolution to the same Effect in favour of the Pensylvania Companies,1 of which at the time I much disapproved, it is difficult to assign any good Reason for a distinction among Troops of the same Corpse, & under Circumstances altogether similar: and we may be censured for not attempting at least to put them on an equal Footing: However had not the Men expressed so much dissatisfaction at being constrained to serve in the reformed Battallion, after so many of their officers had retir’d, I should have been silent: for your Excellency will do me the Justice to believe that I do great violence to my Feelings, & to the Maxim I have endeavor’d to inculcate when I in the most distant Degree interpose in a matter to which you alone, from a thorough knowledge of all it’s Consequences, are competent. I am uncertain whether a formal Act of Congress is necessary, I rather presume your Power’s are adequate: but however this may be, from a Reluctance to embarrass you on any Occasion, I shoud not reconcile it to myself to take any Step to accomplish the transfer without having previously consulted you.

If the obstacles are important in your Opinion, I flatter myself that the State of which I am a Citizen will be contented, from the unreservd Confidence they Justly repose in your wisdom Impartiality and attention to the general Interest, as well as from the lively Sense they entertain of your unwearied Exertions for their own more immediate Protection.2 I have the Honour to be—with every Sentiment of Respect and Affection—Sir your Excellency’s most Obedient & very humble Servant

Jas Duane


1Congress had resolved on 13 Jan. “That the regiment lately commanded by Colonel Patton, (Captain M’Lane, his subalterns and men raised in the Delaware State excepted,) and the independent companies raised in Pensylvania and afterwards annexed to Colonel Malcom’s regiment, be incorporated with Colonel Hartley’s regiment; the whole to form a complete battalion upon the new establishment, and be added to the Pensylvania line as the eleventh regiment of that State; that the several officers be arranged by the Board of War, and enjoy their rank according to their commissions or appointments respectively” (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 , 13:58).

2GW replied on 26 May, declining Duane’s request.

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