George Washington Papers

From George Washington to a Board of General Officers, 20 May 1779

To a Board of General Officers

Head Qrs [Middlebrook] May 20th 1779


I have the Honor to transmit you such papers respecting the rank & Arrangement of the Maryland Officers, as concern the points meant to be referred by Yesterday’s Orders to Your consideration.1 After Your report and Arrangement on the 13th of April (No. 6 & 7)2—the matters unfinished by you were submitted to a Committee of Field-Officers in that line. The papers No. 1 & 2 contain their Report & arrangement—& No. 4 their reasons more at large in Answer to My Letter No. 3 for some few alterations in the line of Captains as arranged by you.3

You will perceive that the Committee have added to their list, the only one that requires your attention, and given those so added—precedence of some arranged by you. The Instances in which they have done it, are No. 24 John Smith over John Hawkins; This they found on the Nonacceptance of a Commission by a Capn Chew.4

over Oldham
No. 26 John Morris
27 Lilburn Williams
28 Henry Gaither
29 Richard Grace
over Ghisenlin
31 Edward prawl
32 Walker Muse

The promotions of the above Gentn over Oldham & Ghiselin respectively the Committee found on vacancies that happened between their appointments as Lieutenants and those of Oldham & Ghiselin, as Captains which did not take place on a general arrangemt nor till some time after. The Two Latter do not appear by the Genl Roster of rank No. 55—dated the 1st of April 1777—to have been appointed Captains—and it would seem from the dates affixed to their Commissions in both arrangements (the same in this respect) that they obtained Captaincies by special appointments—after the vacancies to which the Others are reported to have had a right and after the General arrangement. I have the Honor to be with great respect & esteem Gentn


P.S. You’l be pleased to return all the papers with your report as soon as you have finished.6

Df, in Robert Hanson Harrison’s writing, DLC:GW; Varick transcript, DLC:GW.

3The report and arrangement submitted to GW by the officers committee under Col. Otho Holland Williams have not been identified, but for GW’s letter “No. 3” and the committee’s reply “No. 4,” see GW to Otho Holland Williams et al., 10 May, and n.5 to that document.

4John Smith (1747–1832) served in 1776 as a second lieutenant in the Maryland flying camp and was appointed a first lieutenant in the 3d Maryland Regiment in December 1776. He later became a captain with a commission dating from January 1777 and was wounded and taken prisoner at the Battle of Camden on 16 Aug. 1780. He remained a prisoner on parole for the rest of the war, but was transferred to the rolls of the 5th Maryland Regiment in January 1781.

John Hawkins (d. 1786) served in 1776 as a first lieutenant in the Maryland flying camp and was appointed a first lieutenant in the 5th Maryland Regiment in December 1776. He was later appointed captain with a commission dating from February 1777, and he left the army in June 1781. Samuel Lloyd Chew (1755–1785) served in 1776 as a first lieutenant in the Maryland flying camp. He was offered a commission as captain in the 5th Maryland Regiment in December 1776 but declined.

5The roster of rank has not been identified.

6The Board of General officers’ reply, dated 20 May at Middlebrook and signed by major generals Nathanael Greene and Johann Kalb, and brigadier generals Henry Knox and William Woodford, reads: “We the Board of General Officers directed to set for the purpose of deciding upon a Report made by a Committee of Field Officers in the Maryland Line for the settlement of the Rank of the Subaltern Officers of that Line. Report That if the facts stated by the Committee are right, Then the Captains which are there introduced upon a principle of vacancy is agreable to the Resolution of Congress for that purpose. We conceive their claim not only admissable upon a principle of Justice; but because the grade which they now claim from the right of vacancy works no injury to persons holding superior Rank. We therefore confirm the Arrangement made by the Committee of Field Officers” (DNA: RG 93).

Index Entries