To John Armstrong
Head Qrs New Windsor July 13th 1779
I have been favoured with your Letter of the 7th Instant. From the character of Major Nichols as a good Officer I should have been happy—if he had remained in service—but he could not be reintroduced now even with his former rank as the vacancy occasioned by his resignation has been filled and sundry consequent arrangements made much less with the rank he requires. I have no power to appoint Officers—either by giving an Actual command or by conferring Brevets. And if I had, I should not think myself at liberty, after the decision of so respectable and disinterested a Board as the One which determined in his case to comply with his wishes.1 I am persuaded it would occasion great uneasiness and such as policy—to say nothing of the justice or injustice of the measure, forbids us to excite. Brevets, altho they do not give an actual and immediate command—yet they give rank, which must dissatisfy those whose interests are affected by them. I am sorry to add that Captain Kearsley’s readmission is also impracticable. I had written him to this effect, previous to the receipt of your Letter, having found that his appearance at Wyoming and the apprehension of his resuming his command, after his resignation and the arrangements in consequence, had thrown the Officers into the greatest confusion.2 It is a matter of concern3 that good Officers should adopt hasty resolutions to put themselves out of the service.
I have seen the Charles Town papers of the 29th of May & 4th of June containing accounts of the operations in that quarter.4
My Official Letter to Congress will give you all the public intelligence I have—and will inform you of the wanton and unprecedented devastations of the Enemy, at least since the times of modern— civilized War.5 I am Dr sir with great truth Yr Affect. & Obligd Hb. st
Df, in Robert Hanson Harrison’s writing, DLC:GW; Varick transcript, DLC:GW.
1. For the resignation of Francis Nichols, formerly major in the 9th Pennsylvania Regiment, see Board of General Officers to GW, 23 April, and n.2 to that document; see also Peter Scull to GW, 22 Feb., n.1.
3. At this place on the draft manuscript, Harrison initially wrote “pity.” He then struck out that word and wrote “matter of concern” above the line.
4. GW apparently read newspapers from Charleston, S.C., which have not been identified. For the long account dated 29 May, which covered military actions during Maj. Gen. Augustine Prevost’s expedition against Charleston in May, and the much briefer notice dated 4 June, on the dispositions of Prevost’s army after its withdrawal, see The Independent Chronicle and the Universal Advertiser (Boston), and The American Journal, and General Advertiser (Providence), both 22 July; see also GW to John Jay, 26 May, n.1. Several northern newspapers printed the items dated 29 May and 4 June.