George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Colonel John Gunby, 18 December 1777

From Colonel John Gunby

[c.18 December 1777]

Dear General

I beg leave to Troble your Excellency with those few lines by way of Informing in what Manner I claim Rank of Colo. Stone on Ower first astablishment & Raising Troops in the State of Maryland, I was appointed Second Capt. of an Independant Company, Colo. Stone was appointed first Capt. in Colol Smallwoods Regiment that then was, & by a resolve of that State at the time we took owr Commissions the Independant Captains All took Rank of the Capts. in Colo. Smallwoods Regiment, larst Campeign when the flying Camp troops war Sent out, Capt. Bell who Commanded the first Independant Company war appointed Brigatar to the flying Camp, by which means I became the Eldest Capt. belonging to the State, & Commanded Colo. Stone all the last Campaign1 on the 10th of Decmr 1776. Colo. Stone & my Self Receved Lt Colos. Commissions both of the Saim Day and Date, last april the Legislature of owr State in the ungust & Confused manner in many Instances they Gave Commissions in, Contrived to gave Colo. Stone the Rank of Sixth Colo. & my Self the Rank of the Seventh, upon which I refused taking a commision on any Such terms at length they Told me if I would take the Commission agreable to the present appointment that they would Refer the Settlement of the Rank to your Excellency when we Should arive at Camp on those terms I took charge of the Regiment & Came out when the army lay Down at willmington2 I particioned your Excellency through Genl Sullivan to have an Inquierry in the Matter your answer was that time Just then wold not purmit but that you would have the matter Inquired in to the first oppertunity & that you had been Informed that Colo. Stone was a Lt Colo. when I was only a Capt. who Eiver informed your Excellency of that new nothing at all of the matter3 I wrote Colo. Stone Since your Order for the Colos. to gave in their pretentions to Rank informing him of the order, & if he thought him Self Intitiled to hold Rank of me to Send in his Clam in writing but as Colo. Stone is not her nor cant be here I should be Very well Satisfied that Genrl Smallwood Should Stat Every Clam to Rank that Ither of us can have as he is better aqunted with the Rank the officers ought to hold from that State then any one Else That I know of4 if this proposiel be admited I very Chearfully will acquace with your Excellencys Determination or any Bord you Shall appoint for that purpose. From your Very Humble Survt

Jno. Gunby

ALS, PHi: Gratz Collection. Gunby likely wrote this letter, which is without date or location but docketed “Decbr 1777,” after learning that his regiment would not remain with the main Continental army but instead would march for Wilmington, Del. (see General Orders, this date, and GW to William Smallwood, 19 Dec.).

1Gunby states correctly the ranks given to him, John Hoskins Stone, and Rezin Beall by the Maryland convention on 14 Jan. 1776 (Maryland Convention Proceedings description begins Proceedings of the Convention of the Province of Maryland, Held at the City of Annapolis, on Thursday the seventh of December, 1775. Annapolis, 1775 or 1776. description ends , 42–44), but the convention’s resolution of the following day ranked the officers “according to the number of the battalion to which they belong; and if they should not belong to any battalion, then next after the officers holding in battalions the like commissions as themselves” (ibid., 53).

2Gunby and Stone received their lieutenant colonelcies on 10 Dec. 1776, but the arrangement of officers reported by a committee of the Maryland convention on 25 Mar. 1777 ranked Stone above Gunby. The two men subsequently were designated to fill vacant colonelcies, Stone as colonel of the 6th Maryland Regiment on 1 April and Gunby as colonel of the 7th Maryland on 17 April 1777 (Md. Senate Votes and Proceedings description begins Votes and Proceedings of the Senate of the State of Maryland. February Session, 1777. Being the First Session of this Assembly. [Annapolis, 1777]. description ends , 5 Feb.—20 April 1777 sess., 26–29, 32–33). GW headquartered at Wilmington, Del., from 25 Aug. to 6 Sept. 1777.

3Neither Gunby’s petition through Maj. Gen. John Sullivan nor an answer from GW has been identified.

4Gunby’s letter to Stone has not been identified, but the order to which he refers was issued in general orders on 26 November. Stone had been wounded at the Battle of Germantown in October 1777 and was recuperating in Baltimore.

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