George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Samuel Huntington, 27 January 1781

Philadelphia January 27. 1781


Your Excellency will receive herewith enclosed, a Petition from George Wright & others, with an Act of Congress of this Day referring the Petition to your Excellency to take such Measures thereon as you may think proper.

By the enclosed Copy of the 23d Instant you will be informed that Congress approves of the Proposals made by Colonel Armand for equipping his Legion, and have granted him leave to proceed to France for that Purpose—That the Remains of his Legion for the Purpose of Discipline at such Place as you shall direct. Colonel Armand hath also requested that Lieut. Colonel Ternant may be appointed Lieut. Colonel of his Legion: the Board of War having reported in favour of his Request, Congress have thought it expedient to refer the same to your Excellency.

I have also enclosed for your Information a Resolve of the 26th Instant correcting some Anachronisms respecting the Time fixed with Regard to the Officers therein mentioned when their additional Pay shall commence in the new Emissions and for retained Rations &c.; fixing the Time to the first of August last conformable to the Pay in the Line of the Army. I have the Honor to be with the highest Respect your Excellency’s most obedient & most humble Servant

Sam. Huntington President

P.S. I have been Honourd with your favour of the 23d instant.

DLC: Papers of George Washington.


Long Island November 5th 1780

To the Honourable, the Representatives of the United States of North America, in General Congress Assembled.


We whose names are hereto subscrib’d, Citizens of America, and at this time, prisoners, within the British lines, being compel’d by various distresses, and particularly, by the cruel neglect, we experience in the present Exchange, to cry for releif, request your favourable Attention, to the following circumstances.

Whatever inactivity our present charactars may seem to imply, we can with truth, severally assert, that we have at all times, from the earliest period of the contest, attended with alacrity to the call of our country, on every emergency. Most of us held commissions, but happen’d to be out of Service when taken. The British demand Officers in exchange, not only for those who are in these circumstances, but likewise for those who have formerly been Officers; but who being neither commission’d nor in actual Service when taken, have most assuredly, no claim to Military rank. This demand, the American Commissary General deems unreasonable; a discussion of the disagreement is therefore defer’d till another opportunity, and the unfortunate subjects of it, are in the Meantime to languish in Captivity.

We beg leave now express our Apprehension, that whenever a future exchange may be set on foot, the same impractibility of ascertaining our ranks, will subsist, unless by a previous examination, the difficulty is removed. This, Gentlemen, is what we earnestly request you will find expedient to ordr.

Sensible that more important affairs demand your attention, we declind recapitulating minute distresses, and shall only add a few words respecting the injustice, as well as the Impolicy, of our being denied a part of the publick supplies. We entertain a perfect consideration for the Gentlemen of the Army, & are sensible that Virtue, and publick spirit only, are the motives of their conduct: but we trust that we shall do them no injustice, when we say that we conceive the Citizen to be as worthy & as usefull a Charactar as the Soldier. Why then, we should be utterly neglected, when we have the misfortune to be made prisoners, we cannot conceive, unless the Maxim must be verify’d, "that a claim to services from others must be attended with a Capacity to serve them"—This Capacity we have lost by the chance of war which has at the same time enabled our Country to restore & command it.

To prove the impolicy of this distinction, we need only mention the discouragement it must give the Militia, when they reflect, that if they should happen to be made prisoners, but the day after they are discharged from actual service, they must languish out their term of captivity in unpitied want.

We now ardently beg that the Grievances we here complain of may be redress’d as speedily as possible & beg leave to subscribe ourselves Gentlemen Your most Obedient, and Devoted Servants

Pennya: George Wright

Jno. Wm Annis

Jacob Sommer

Jersey: Garrit Van Wagener

duke Wikoff

Matthias Ward

Delaware: Robert Hondgson

Silas Snow


19 January 1781

Extract of a report from the Board of War dated January 19th 1781

"That Lieutenant Colonel Ternant be appointed Lieutenant Colonel of Colonel Armand’s Legion and take his rank and command therein when exchanged."

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