George Washington Papers

From George Washington to William Heath, 22 June 1782

Newburgh June 22d 1782.

Dear Sir,

In answer to your private letter of the 19th, I have to observe that it was not my intention by the Order of the 4th of April, to call in question, or to deprive you, of any part of the Command which was confirmed in the subsequent one of the 9th Instt.

The Order of the 9th (last mentioned) did not proceed from any doubt in my mind of the meaning of the first, but because different interpretations was put on it by others—because confusion and disorder was about to ensue—and because I had understood from the Adjutt Genl that you, yourself, required an explanation of it to the Army; to prevent those evils which were resulting from misconception—had I known that Captn Williams was in arrest, and to be tried on the merits of that order, I certainly should not, at the time I did, have issued the explanatory one of the 9th; which was, in some measure, prejudging for the Court; as it was upon the construction of the order of the 4th of April that the Matter, ultimately, would rest.

As you are pleased to ask my opinion on the propriety of dropping, or prosecuting the point in dispute, I shall give it in favor of the latter; because I have too good an opinion of Colo. Putnams sense, and knowledge of Discipline, to suppose he would have forbid the Brigade Majr Williams to comply with your order (thereby incurring responsibility) unless he had conceived himself justified under the order of the 4th of April. I am—Dr Sir Yr Most Obt Hble Servt

Go: Washington


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