George Washington Papers

From George Washington to Horatio Gates, 10 February 1783

Head Quarters Feby 10th 1783


Your favor of the 9th covering an application from Brigadr General Putnam for leave of absence until the 15th of April has been handed to me this morning.

I beg you will be pleased, Sir, to inform that Officer I do not consider myself at liberty to comply with his request—for it appears to me (considering the small number of General Officers with the Army, Genl Howe having also in consequence of a previous promise just before his application obtained leave of absence) that it would be absolutely improper and injurious to service, under the present circumstances to give the permission he sollicits; and that I cannot be answerable for a faithful discharge of the trust reposed in me by my Country, unless a proper number of Officers are constantly retained with the Army to pay that incessant attention to the Police of it, which is indispensably necessary—this, I think, will be sufficient for his satisfaction, without mentioning a consideration which only affects me personally, and that is, the additional and almost insupportable weight of business & trouble which the absence of so many General Officers continues to impose upon me.

But taking the matter in another point of view, and I cannot help expressing my surprize that General Putnam, who has been absent the whole Campaign (for however important & proper the business may have been on which he was employed, the Troops of his Command suffered not the less for the want of his presence) and who has been in Camp but a few Weeks; should imagine his services could be dispensed with until the 15th of April—If the Law Suit he mentions renders it essential he should be absent about the last of March, it is probable he may be spared from the Army with less inconvenience then, than at present, as some of the Genl Officers now absent will have returned before that time. I am Sir With great regard & esteem Your Most Obedt Servant

Go: Washington

NHi: Gates Papers.

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