George Washington Papers
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To George Washington from Brigadier General John Armstrong, 8 April 1777

From Brigadier General John Armstrong

Philadelphia 8th April 1777

Dear General

The bearer Mr Saml Kersley is One under the Nomination of a Captain in the minute I left yr Excely1 an assiduous & every way well disposed Young man—who after laying out what money he had of his Own in recruiting & coming to this City to be replenished (for which I thought my Certificate expressly grounded on your Authority wou’d have been Sufficient) Congress will not grant nor admit a Shilling until your Warrt to the pay master General is produced—they say they don’t doubt the Certificate, but can’t deviate from a certain resolve, so that altho’ the Substance be here & moral certainty of the fact, the want of form must Stop the Service & Subject the Young Man to a journey of near two hundred miles extraordinary—but I wish not to complain—His going up will I hope prevent the same disappointment happening to the Other three Gentn who no doubt may soon be expected here on the Same errand, as of the remaining three also, I hope Your Warrt will make particular mention. Here give me leave to correct a mistake which might otherwise happen—Mr David Aspey (the first in yr list) has wrote me he cannot accept, but I guarded this at the first, by sending a Seperate proposal to Mr John Wilkins, who does accept and has raised about twenty Men, so that Aspey must be erazed & Wilkins inserted2—Whether you will think proper at this time to give Mr Kersley his Commission & Send with him those of the Others I must submit.

Notwithstanding the prevailing Sentiment here—the N. River & a junction &c. I cannot fully divest myself of a different Object, and the advantages they may propose by being first Over & gaining the Dellaware. I am with perfect respect yr Excellencys Affectionate humbl. Servt

John Armstrong

Shou’d Mr Kersley to Save the journey rather think of letting this go by the first Express as Congress have proposed—The Warrant as early as possible inclosed to the President will be equal.3



1This document has not been identified. GW in February had put at Armstrong’s disposal four captains’ commissions in the additional Continental regiments (see Armstrong to GW, 22 Feb., and GW to Armstrong, 5 Mar. 1777). Samuel Kearsley (1750–1830) of Carlisle, Pa., was commissioned a captain of an independent company with a date of rank of 28 Feb. 1777 (see GW to Hancock, 10 April), and on 13 Oct. 1777 Kearsley’s company was incorporated in Col. William Malcom’s Additional Continental Regiment (see General Orders, that date). When Kearsley was transferred in April 1779 to Col. Oliver Spencer’s Additional Continental Regiment, he promptly resigned his captaincy rather than be separated from “Brother Officers grown dear to me by Adherence to the Common cause, long acquaintance in the service & mutual Sacrifice of Interest” (Kearsley to GW, 25 April 1779, DLC:GW; see also GW to Kearsley, 29 April 1779, DLC:GW, and Kearsley to GW, 8 May 1779, DNA: RG 93, manuscript file no. 18287). Kearsley’s subsequent attempt to withdraw his resignation and continue in Continental service came too late to be accepted by GW (see Kearsley to GW, 4 June 1779, PHi: Dreer Collection, and GW to Kearsley, 9 July 1779, DLC:GW).

2John Wilkins (1733–1809) of Bedford County, Pa., who had served as a delegate in the Pennsylvania Constitutional Convention of 1776, received a commission in Col. Oliver Spencer’s Additional Continental Regiment with a date of rank of 27 Feb. 1777. He resigned his commission in April 1778. After the war Wilkins moved to Pittsburgh, where he became an associate judge and a member of the state’s supreme executive council. The other two captains nominated by Armstrong were John Steel and Matthew Irvine (see GW to Hancock, 10 April).

3For GW’s resolution of this problem, see his letter to Hancock of 10 April.

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