George Washington Papers

From George Washington to Brigadier Generals William Woodford and Peter Muhlenberg, 18 September 1779

To Brigadier Generals William
Woodford and Peter Muhlenberg

West point Septembr the 18th 1779


I have just received the Arrangement of the Virginia line from the Board of War—as settled at Middle Brook in March—which I inclose with a Copy of the Board’s Letter of the 10th Instant.1 By this Arrangement you will find, that the Vacancies which had happened in the line of Captains and more Inferior Officers, previous to the making of it and subsequent to that at the White plains in September, were left open in the respective Regiments for their Officers in captivity—and as this principle was pursued with respect to the Captains—and Subalterns—and the Memorandum on the 3d leaf of the Arrangement is in general terms “that all vacancies for prisoners subsequent to the Arrangement at White plains were left open for them,” I cannot account for the same not being done in the case of the Field Officers as far as it was practicable the reason being the same, unless the resignation of Lt. Colo. Fleming, which was the only one in the line of Field Officers that had taken place at the time, was then unknown.2 These are not the only contrarieties that occur. For you will perceive notwithstanding this Arrangement by which the Commissions are said by the Board of War in their Letter to have been issued, and the Memorandum referred to above, that they supposed Major Cabell & Capn Waggoner entitled to promotion on the resignation of Lt Colo. Richeson. There has certainly been some great misconception in this business. You and the Field Officers will examine the matter and place it on the right footing—transmitting me the Arrangement under your signature & those of the Officers concerned in makg it, after which I will procure such new Commissions as may be wanted.3

If the plan adopted at White plains is still to prevail—Major Cabell will rank as Lt Colonel from the resignation of Lt Colo. Flemming on the 15th of Decr and Captain Waggoner as Major from the same time. That matters may be facilitated I also inclose a List of all the Resignations that have come to my knowledge since September. I also forward sundry Commissions, which if right, I request you to deliver.4 There came two for Major Cabell & Capn Waggoner; but as they are wrong in their date, if the Arrangement is to be conducted on the principle adopted at the White plains—as I have already observed—and are premature if it is conducted on that pursued at Middle Brook—I do not send them. The sooner the Arrangement can be properly and explicitly adjusted the better. Where there are to be promotions—and which are the only cases where New Commissions will be wanted—they will be particularly noted—that as little unnecessary trouble as possible may be occasioned. I am Gentlemen with great regard Yr Most Obedt sert


N.B. You will return me the Arrangement which I inclose.

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

In early July, Col. William Davies, commander of the consolidated 1st and 10th Virginia Regiments, had written to GW’s secretary Robert Hanson Harrison regarding aspects of some of the issues in the arrangement of the Virginia line that GW addresses in this letter. Davies’s letter, dated 2 July, is in DNA:RG93, Manuscript File, no. 16958.

A letter of this date from GW to Woodford, originally written as the first paragraph of this letter and then marked out, reads: “I received Your Letter of the 12th some days ago and approve of your sending Major Webb to Philadelphia for the purposes you mention” (Df, in Robert Hanson Harrison’s writing, DLC:GW; Varick transcript, DLC:GW). Woodford’s letter of 12 Sept. has not been found.

1This letter has not been found. The arrangement has not been identified.

2Charles Fleming (died c.1793) commanded a company of minutemen from Cumberland County, Va., before being appointed a captain in the 7th Virginia Regiment with a commission dating from February 1776. He was commissioned a major in the 4th Virginia Regiment in June 1777 and became lieutenant colonel of the 3d Virginia Regiment in June 1778. He transferred to the 8th Virginia Regiment in September 1778 and subsequently resigned with an effective date in December 1778.

On 29 June, GW’s aide-de-camp Richard Kidder Meade wrote to Fleming from headquarters: “Your letter of the 12th Inst. came to hand yesterday & the contents were immediately communicated to his Excellency, who does not insist on your joining the Army, but consents to your resignation (agreeable to the terms of yr furlough) taking place from the time of your arrival in Virginia the 15th day Decemr 1778. Your resignation will be entered accordingly—You will be pleased to consider this as a sufficient discharge” (DLC:GW). Fleming commanded some Virginia militia for a time during the winter of 1780–81.

3The field officers of the Virginia Continental regiments met at Woodford’s quarters on 23 Sept. to revise the arrangement (Orderly Book, Virginia Regiments, 11 Sept.–5 Dec., ViHi). GW received the revised arrangement on 28 Sept. and transmitted it to the Board of War for issuance of revised commissions three days later (see GW to Woodford and Muhlenberg, 28 Sept., and GW to the Board of War, 1 Oct.).

4These enclosures have not been identified.

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