George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Horatio Gates, 29 April 1781

Philadelphia 29th April 1781


The last Letter I had the Honour to write Your Excellency was from Berkeley in Virginia the 15th of January. I wish it was discovered by what Artifice your Dispatches of the 8th of October were detain’d Sixty Four days with Evident Marks of their having been open’d before they reach’d me, as I already mention’d in my last Letter; The Injuries which the Public, as well as myself may have suffered from that interception, are of Greater consequence than is Generally imagined.

I am inform’d that my Letter of the 24th Instant to the president of Congress, entreating that Honourable Body to protect me against Standing, though Vague accusations, is referred to Your Excellency. I cannot believe that I shall be Doom’d to remain an Useless Officer, Stain’d with Disgracefull Imputations, unless they be supported by Legal Charges—The Precedent would point out to Our Enemies, how they ought to direct Slander to much Greater Advantage. The British Generals must be stupid indeed, if they did not avail themselves of such promising Opportunities for Obtaining Success, with a prodigious Saving of Blood, and Money.

Since our first Exertions in this Arduous Contest to this day, your Excellency has experienced many Deficiencies in Men, and Things. To Descant on these, as far as they Affect me, would be an injudicious Recrimination. The Fault of Others can exculpate no Offender and the Innocent stands in no need of such Resources. when I shall be pointedly charged, I will Answer, and I trust to the satisfaction of my Superiors but I hope it will not be my unhappy Lot to continue Stigmatized until I shall have proved a Negative.

Major Thomas Pinkney one of my Aides de Camp, having been wounded in ths action near Camden, was taken, and lies a prisoner with a Fractured Leg in Charlestown. From the beginning of the War, he Distinguished himself in most of the Engagements we have had with the Enemy to the Southwards, and is a Major in the South Carolina Line of The Federal Army He most Earnestly requests me to Solicit his Exchange, his Life being in imminent Danger, unless he be Speedily removed. He is a young Gentleman of Great Merit; & I am confident that if you were acquainted with Him, you would feel a Singular Pleasure in conferring upon him the Favour he intreats from your Excellency. I am not insensible of the Situation of other deserving Officers, who may claim a prior Title to their exchange; but in extraordinary Cases general Rules may be dispensed with. If the requested Favour can be Granted, I shall be equally gratefull—as if I were personally benefitted by it. I have the Honour to be with Great Respect Sir Your Excellencys most Obedient and most Humble Servant

Horatio Gates

DLC: Papers of George Washington.

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