George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Alexander McDougall, 13 June 1782

West Point 13th June 1782.


Conscious to myself that I have studiously oeconomized in discharging the public trust committed to me, as well in my disposition of the troops under my Care, as the public Stores committed to it; I was astonished to learn, that a Report had been made to your Excellency, of my having a Number of Invalids at work for me at Robinsons Farm. This must be founded on Mistake, if not on a baser Motive.

The fact with respect to the Invalids, in question stands thus. The last year, I hired that Farm; the Public by the hospital, consumed almost every species of produce raised on it, not even the Garden excepted; for which I have received no kind of Consideration; altho the farm was taxed triple the amount of any in the Precinct. When the Vegetables came on this Season; and for want of forage, I sent my horses there to pasture, I was obliged for the preservation of the one, and the Care of the other, to send over part of my Guard, of the Corps of Invalids. The Number that is there, with those I have on the Point, are three less than the Complement, allowed me by the Regulations. Those of them at Robinsons have no orders, or directions from me, or any person under me to work; unless they voluntarily Assist in the Garden; for which they are allowed to take Vegetables. If my being in arrest, does not deprive me of the priviledge of a Guard, I conceive I have a right to dispose of it, as I please for the protection of my Property; if it is within alarming distance of the Post, or Camp to which they are attached: And I imagined, that a Guard from that Corps, would be more advancive of the Service, than one from the marching Regiments.

It is the Vicinity of the Army, which renders a Guard there necessary; and if I was not entite[l]led to any Guard; I might expect one in the Center of the Army, for the Safety of my property as a faithful Citizen; which is commonly given from all Armies, to prevent the irregularity which is too incident to Armies.

Fields of Corn & Orchards are often guarded near the Army, when they are endangered by their Neighborhood: But if my being in Arrest, should in the Opinion of the Commander in Chief, forfeit my Right to a Guard, whenever he shall please to signify such his opinion, or any other Reason, those Invalids will be called off. I have the honor to be, Your Excellencys most obedient and most humble Servant

Alexr McDougall

P.S. Besides the Considerations above mentioned, the Army have burnt and destroyed the enclosures, and the public does not furnish Money for forage or pasture, were I to put my horses at a distance in pasture, where they would be safe, without a Guard; I must discharge the pasturage my self. And a Guard has been allowed for the Officers horses, in a position where they were in danger from thieves, where the enclosures were good & the public paid for the pasturage in the first instance. So that part of my Guard being put to those purposes, is neither unusual, nor injurious to the public Service. For whether it is part there, and part here, or the whole here, is in my humble opinion immaterial to the public; in point of expence, or efficient Service; as they are within alarming distance.

DLC: Papers of George Washington.

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