George Washington Papers

From George Washington to John Jay, 30 June 1779

To John Jay

Head Quarters New Windsor June 30th 79.


Col. Morgan of the Virginia troops, who waits on Congress with his resignation will have the honor of delivering you this—I cannot in justice avoid mentioning him as a very valuable officer who has rendered a series of important services and distinguished himself upon several occasions. I have the honor to be With the greatest respect & esteem Yr Excellency’s Most Obedt ser.

Go: Washington

LS, in Alexander Hamilton’s writing, DNA:PCC, item 152; copy, DNA:PCC, item 169; copy, NHi: Gates Papers; copy, NN: Myers Collection, Daniel Morgan Papers.

The LS of this letter from GW to Jay was enclosed with a letter of this date from GW’s aide-de-camp Richard Kidder Meade to Col. Daniel Morgan at Smiths Clove, New York. Meade’s letter reads: “Agreeable to your request I have the pleasure to inclose you a letter from his Excellency to the President of Congress, on the subject of your resignation—It is concise, but in justice to your merit makes handsome mention of your services. It were much to be wished that you could have reconc⟨ile⟩d a longer continu⟨ance in⟩ the service.

“The General approves ⟨the⟩ steps you have taken with respect to ⟨the⟩ six men, deserted from the Corps formerly under your command, and desires they may be sent down as you propose to join the light Infantry, but that inquiry may be first made whether their times of service really expired as they say” (NN: Myers Collection, Daniel Morgan Papers; material in angle brackets is supplied from Meade’s draft manuscript in DLC:GW).

Congress read GW’s letter to Jay, and a letter from Morgan to Jay dated 18 July, on 19 July and referred them to the Board of War (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 14:854). Morgan’s letter reads: “I beg leave herewith to present to Congress, the commission with which I have been Honored in the army of the united states, Not doubting but the reasons which I shall assign, will induce them to except of my resignation without censuring my conduct—In the spring of the year 1775 I was appointed to the command of a company in the continantal army, with which I marchd to country—and shortly after to Quebec—there I was ordered to lead the Van of Genl Arnold Detachment into the city, which I was happy in effecting, though unfortunately taken prisoner through want of proper support—I cheerfully obayed every order I recd—I with pleasure underwent every hardship, not doubting but my faithfulness would recommend me to my country, and my merits meet with thare just reward—when I returnd from captivity I saw many appointed to rank above me In which however, I cheerfully acquecd, attributing it to Necessity of haveing officers to command the new rais’d troops—As soon as exchanged I exerted myself in raising my regt, and in a few Days after my arrival at camp, was honored by his excellency the commander in chief, with the command of a select corps of light troops consisting of 500 men—which was after increased by annexing to it a greater number, in particular when to the Northward under the command of genl Gates—thare my command amounted from nine to twelve hundred in chosen men And I believe every candid man, who served in that army will do me the justice to acknowledge that with this corps I did more than was or could be expected from thair numbers—during the time I commanded that corps I often attact the enemy with success I at all time lay close round them, I never was surprised or lost any troops through negligence or inattention—from these considerations I could not but flatter myself, that if at any time a respectable corps of light troops should be form’d I should be honored with the command of it—my experience as a partizan and the services I had done my country in that way I thought justified my expectations—I am however disappointed, shuch a corps has been form’d and the command of it given to another—As it is generally known that I commanded the light troops of our army and that this command is now taken from me, it will Naturally be judged that this chang of officers has taken place either on account of some misconduct in me, or on account my want of capacity—I cannot therefore but feel deeply effected with this injury done my reputation, by reduceing me from a respectable station in the army, which I believe None will say I did Not fill with propriety to the Command of a few men—it may perhaps be offerred that my rank in the army did not intitle me to such a command, to which I beg leave to observe that I am an older officer than either of the gentlemen who have succeeded me—that at the time when thay ware enjoying the sweets of Domestick life—I was engaged in Actual service and undergoing the hardships of war.

I can with sincerity declare that I engaged in the service of my country with a full determination to continue in it as long as my services ware wanting—I must conclude from what has happend, that my country has no more occasion for me, I therefore beg leave to retire” (DNA:PCC, item 78). Morgan’s remarks targeted Brig. Gen. Anthony Wayne, whom GW had named commander of the light infantry corps, and apparently Col. Richard Butler, who commanded in Wayne’s absence (see General Orders, 12 and 21 June, and GW to Wayne, 21 June, source note and n.1). For GW’s displeasure with Morgan’s withdrawal from the army at that time, see his letter to Joseph Jones, 22 July 1780 (PPRF); see also 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 17:518–19; Higginbotham, Daniel Morgan, description begins Don Higginbotham. Daniel Morgan: Revolutionary Rifleman. Chapel Hill, N.C., 1961. description ends 95–98; and Callahan, Daniel Morgan, 182–86.

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