George Washington Papers

From George Washington to Horatio Gates, 12 May 1781

Head Quarters New Windsor 12th May 1781


Your favor of the 29th of April from Philada was delivered to me on the 9th Instant by Colo. Stewart. That of the 15h of January from Berkely in Virginia reached me in due time. I should be sorry to think that either the public or yourself should have suffered from the unaccountable delay of my letter of the 8th of October—and I should with the greatest readiness set about an enquiry into the causes of it, did it appear practicable to make any discoveries after so much time has elapsed.

Your letter of the 24th of April to the president of Congress was, as you have been informed, transmitted to me with the following endorsement by the secretary "Ordered to be transmitted to the Commander in Chief" without any further instructions on the matter. As that letter contained an appeal to Congress and a request that they would themselves proceed upon the Enquiry which they had ordered to be held upon your Conduct, I could only, in answer, advise them of the steps which had been taken to endeavour to bring it in at the southern Army, and with the Reasons which operated against it at the time, and which, I suppose, from the unsettled State of affairs in that quarter, are still likely to exist. I informed them, likewise, that only two modes remained of bringing the matter to an issue in a military way—ordering the enquiry to be held with the southern army immediately and at all events—or taking Depositions there and producing them in Evidence to a Court here.

I hope you are assured that nothing has been neglected on my part, which could tend to carry the orders of Congress into Execution. The cause of delay hitherto you are acquainted with. No particular Charges having been lodged with me, I neither had nor have I any to make. The Court, if they do meet, can only proceed upon the Resolve of the 5th of October which directs in general terms—an enquiry into your conduct as Commander of the southern Army.

Although I have not the pleasure of being personally acquainted with Major Pinkney, I was no stranger to his character before your warm recommendation of him. I cannot, without infringing a general Rule of Conduct, which has lately been enforced by a Resolve of Congress, give directions for the exchange of any officer out of his turn, but I can, on account of the Major’s peculiar situation, with propriety desire General Greene to interest himself in obtaining his parole—This I will do, the first time I have occasion to write to him. I have the honor to be Sir Your most obt and hble Servt

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NHi: Gates Papers.

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