To Henry Knox
Philadelphia February 19th 1793.
I have given due consideration to the papers annexed.1
If the usage of the Army has been, that the Officer next in seniority has not only the right to fill the vacancy which is occasioned by death—Resignation—or dismission; but also2 (if adjudged worthy of promotion) to have his Commission dated at the time the said vacancy happened: And; as it appears that the resignation of Captn Mercer of the first Regiment did actually take place on the 26th of November 1790 (although for certain considerations his pay was continued until April following) and notice thereof was officially Receivd at the War Office on the 5th of January3 then next ensuing I can see no principle on which the Memorialists whose military existence as Captns did not take place until the 4th of March is founded; and therefore under the statement which is exhibited to me—do give it as my opinion that Captn Armstrong ought to take Rank of the Memorialists.4
ADfS, DLC:GW; LB, DLC:GW; copy, PHi: Large Miscellaneous Volumes.
1. Tobias Lear added a symbol and the words “Turn over” at this place in GW’s draft to indicate the existence of a note on the back that reads, “The papers annexed were—a memorial of several Captains in the Army of the U.S. against the Rank of Capt. [John] Armstrong—Ext. of a lettr from Genl [Josiah] Harmar respectg Capt. [John] Mercer’s resignation—and the opinion of the Secy of War on the memorial.” For the text of the memorial, see Knox to GW, 18 Feb. 1793 (second letter), n.1. For Knox’s opinion and the extract of Harmar’s letter, see Knox to GW, 18 Feb. 1793 (second letter), and note 3.
2. At this place in the draft, GW wrote and then crossed out the phrase “to step into it.”
3. At this point on the draft manuscript, GW first wrote “following as appears by the annexed papers”; he then struck this phrase and inserted “then next following” above the line.
4. Knox informed Gen. Anthony Wayne of the president’s decision regarding Armstrong’s rank in a letter of 5 Mar. (Knopf, Wayne, description begins Richard C. Knopf, ed. Anthony Wayne, a Name in Arms: Soldier, Diplomat, Defender of Expansion Westward of a Nation; The Wayne-Knox-Pickering-McHenry Correspondence. Pittsburgh, 1960. description ends 200). In the meantime GW already had named Armstrong as a potential major, with the captain’s promotion being contingent upon his acquittal of charges brought against him by Gen. James Wilkinson (GW to U.S. Senate, 22 Feb. [second letter]; JPP, description begins Dorothy Twohig, ed. The Journal of the Proceedings of the President, 1793–1797. Charlottesville, Va., 1981. description ends 59, n.6). Armstrong, however, resigned on 3 Mar. (Wayne to Knox, 20 April 1793, in Knopf, Wayne, description begins Richard C. Knopf, ed. Anthony Wayne, a Name in Arms: Soldier, Diplomat, Defender of Expansion Westward of a Nation; The Wayne-Knox-Pickering-McHenry Correspondence. Pittsburgh, 1960. description ends 226).