George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Captain John Copp, 16 May 1779

From Captain John Copp

Fort Stanwyx [N.Y.]
May 16th 1779.

May it please your Excellency,

To excuse the Liberty I take as an injured Officer in representing my Situation to your Notice.

Since the Commencement of the War I have had the Honor to act in the Continental Service as a Subaltern—’till the 16th of April 1776, when I was in Canada appointed Captain of a Company in Colonel John Nicholson’s Regiment: Shortly after which Appointment, I was by the Committ⟨ee of the Pro⟩vincial Congress for arranging the Officers of this Sta⟨te enrolled⟩ in Colonel Goose Van Schaick’s Regiment, senior in ⟨rank to Cap⟩tains Hicks & Wendell of the same Regiment,1 in w⟨hich⟩ we are still continued.

These Gentlemen, since the 21st of November 1776 have served under me without Complaint, & are notwithstanding mentioned before me in the late Arrangement for the new Establishment.

If my being in Service before them, or the Arrangement by which I have hitherto commanded them, is of any Consequence, I have not the least Doubt of being reinstated in my former Rank, should your Excellency be pleased to notice my Situation. I have the Honor to be, with the greatest Respect, Your Excellency’s most obedt hume Sert

John Copp Captn 1st New York Regt


Robert Hanson Harrison docketed the letter “vide Answer within” and wrote on an attached sheet: “Colo. Vanschaick—’Captain Copp being ranked in the state line arrangement, before Captains Hicks & Wendell who held Commissions in the Continental Army of an Elder date, is the reason they are now placed before Captain Copp in this Arrangement.” Copp, of Schenectady, N.Y., had been appointed a first lieutenant in the 1st New York Regiment in June 1775, became a captain in Col. John Nicholson’s New York Regiment in April 1776, and was appointed a captain in the 1st New York Regiment in December 1776 with a commission dating from the previous month. An attempt to leave him out of the army arrangement in September 1778 led to vociferous protests to Gov. George Clinton (see Hastings and Holden, Clinton Papers description begins Hugh Hastings and J. A. Holden, eds. Public Papers of George Clinton, First Governor of New York, 1777–1795, 1801–1804. 10 vols. 1899–1914. Reprint. New York, 1973. description ends , 3:722–24, 4:8–9, 26); Copp’s disappointment at his subsequent placement behind captains Benjamin Hicks and John H. Wendell led him to resign in July 1779 (see GW to Goose Van Schaick, 22 July, CSmH).

1Benjamin Hicks (d. 1833) was appointed captain of a company of Albany County, N.Y., militia in June 1775, and in November 1776 he was appointed a captain of the 1st New York Regiment with a commission dating from February of that year. He left the army in June 1783.

John Harmanus Wendell (c.1744–1832) of Albany County, N.Y., was appointed a captain in Col. Cornelius Wynkoop’s New York Regiment in March 1776, and he became a captain in the 1st New York Regiment in November of that year. He left the army in April 1781, and after the war became a brigadier general of the state militia and a delegate to the state legislature from Albany County.

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