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To George Washington from Sergeant John Cambridge, 20 February 1780

From Sergeant John Cambridge

Head-Quarters Morris Town Feby 20th 1780


The petition of John Cambridge Serjt Colo: Henry Sherburne’s Regiment, in your Execellency’s Army as my Colo: is Absent and on Furlow at present and before he want away, I want unto him, and he told me, he Could not do it, without your Excellency Approbation. Which Causeth me at present to Apply to your Execellency for a Discharge. I have hired one Of the Soldiers that belonge to the Same Regt which hast been in the service ever Since this war Commenced, which he Can be Recommended for his good behaver, and is an able boded Soldier; his Time of Service that he was inlisted for it up the 4th of march, and Mine the Tenth of Sept. I Should have not have Troubled your Excellency, but Necessaty make me do it, as in duty bund to my Family. my wife is Secly and is not able to help her Self. Trusting that your Excellency will Accept of him, and Discharge me, Which I Shall be in duty bund to pray for your Excellency prosperity in this world, and your Eternal Felicity in the world to Come,

John Cambridge Serjt

ALS, DLC:GW. The letter is endorsed by Lt. Ephraim Cary of Col. Henry Sherburne’s Additional Continental Regiment. Cary testified: “I am personally knowing the Circumstances of the Petitioners Family is as set forth in the Petition.” The letter is docketed “From Captn Trafton & others,” suggesting that it was delivered with the letter of 24 Feb. from Capt. Joshua Trafton and two other officers (see below).

John Cambridge (1757–1829) of Rhode Island enlisted in Col. Daniel Hitchcock’s 2d Rhode Island Regiment in April 1775 and transferred to Hitchcock’s newly formed 11th Continental Regiment in January 1776. In September 1777, Cambridge enlisted for three years as a sergeant in Sherburne’s Additional Continental Regiment. During his service, Cambridge participated in the Canadian expedition of 1775–76, the Battle of White Plains in October 1776, the Rhode Island expedition of 1778, and the attack on Staten Island in January 1780. He left the army in March 1780.

On 24 Feb., Trafton, Lt. Benjamin Sherburne, and Ensign Henry Shearman wrote to GW from “Camp Near Morristown”: “This May Certify his Exellency that Serjt Jno. Cambridge of Colo. Sherburne’s Regt whose Inlistment will expire the 10th of Sept. 1780, And that he has engaged Saml Sabens, Soldier in the Same Regt & Same Company to Serve the Above Mention’d term in Sd Cambridges Place. Sd Sabens time of Service will Expire the 4th Day of march Next, & we the Subscribers do Recommend Sd Sabens to be A Good & Faithful Soldier.

“And Considering the Circumstances of the Sd Serjt Cambridges Family Do highly Recommend him for A Discharge when Sd Above time Expires” (DS, DLC:GW).

Benjamin Sherburne (c.1759–1828) of Newport, R.I., served as a private and corporal in the 1st Rhode Island Regiment in 1775. After a brief period of service in the 5th Massachusetts Regiment in late 1776, he joined Sherburne’s Additional Continental Regiment as an ensign in January 1777. He became a lieutenant the following September. In January 1781, Sherburne transferred to the 1st Rhode Island Regiment, and when the state’s regiments were consolidated in May 1781, he was retained in the Rhode Island Regiment. He left the army in December 1783. Sherburne later served in the War of 1812.

Henry Shearman (Sherman; c.1759–1829) of Washington County, R.I., joined Sherburne’s Additional Continental Regiment as an ensign in September 1777. Taken prisoner at Paramus, N.J., in April 1780, Shearman was exchanged in January 1781 and then rejoined the army as a lieutenant in the consolidated Rhode Island Regiment. He continued to serve in the regiment until he left the army in November 1783.

In 1781, Samuel Sabens (Sabins; born c.1758) of Freetown, Bristol County, Mass., enlisted for the war in the consolidated Rhode Island Regiment, serving as a corporal and a private.

On 24 Feb., GW’s secretary Robert Hanson Harrison replied to Trafton: “Serjeant John Cambridge of Colonel Sherburne’s Regiment has represented to His Excellency the Commander in Chief that his Inlistment will expire the 10th of Sepr next, and that from the peculiarity of his circumstances he wishes to obtain a discharge; but not without engaging a good Soldier to supply his place & to serve for that time. He has informed the General that Samuel Sabens of the Regiment answers this description—that his time of service will expire the 4th of next month—and that he is willing to enlist to serve till the 10th of Septr in His room, on certain conditions agreed on between them. The Account Serjeant Cambridge has given appears to be confirmed by a Certificate under your signature & those of Lt Sherburne’s & Ensign Shearmans. If the facts he represents are true, His Excellency on Saml Saben’s previously inlisting to serve in his room for the time he is engaged, will have no objection to your giving Cambridge a discharge” (DLC:GW).

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