George Washington Papers
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From George Washington to Samuel Huntington, 17 October 1779

To Samuel Huntington

Head Quarters [West Point] 17th October 1779

Sir

Upon an application similar to the inclosed, I did not look upon myself at liberty to grant the request, as the furlough was to extend beyond the limits of the United States.1 I therefore referred Capt. Stoddard, the former applicant, to Congress. They were pleased to grant his petition,2 and from the recommendation I have had of Capt. Lieut. Vandyke, I would beg leave to request a similar indulgence for him.3 I have the Honor to be with great Respect Sir Your most obt Servt

Go: Washington

LS, in Tench Tilghman’s writing, DNA:PCC, item 152; copy, DNA:PCC, item 169. GW signed the cover of the LS. Congress read this letter on 5 Nov. and referred it to the Board of War (JCC, description begins Worthington Chauncey Ford et al., eds. Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774-1789. 34 vols. Washington, D.C., 1904–37. description ends 15:1240).

1The enclosed document, a statement by John Cochran, surgeon general of the army in the middle department, signed by him and dated 15 Oct. at “West Point Camp,” reads: “Captain Lieutt John Van Dike of the Artillery has long laboured under frequent Relapses of an Intermittent and belious Fevers, which have produced Obstructions in his Liver & spleen, and rendered him unfit for Duty, for the space of a Year, for which Complaints, a variety of Remedies have been applied, without the wished for Success; I would therefore recommend, a Voyage to sea as the most probable Means of his recovery.” Following Cochran’s statement was a statement by Brig. Gen. Henry Knox, dated 16 Oct. at West Point and signed by him, reading: “In addition to the above I certify that Mr Vandyke has done no duty for near a year past and that I have no objection to his solliciting his Excellency Genl Washington for a furlough in order to make a Voyage to sea” (DNA:PCC, item 152).

2See GW to John Jay and Jay to GW, both 27 Jan.; see also JCC, description begins Worthington Chauncey Ford et al., eds. Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774-1789. 34 vols. Washington, D.C., 1904–37. description ends 13:117, and GW to Josiah Stoddard, 27 Jan.).

3On recommendation from the Board of War, Congress granted Lt. John Van Dyke an eight-month furlough on 6 Nov. (see Huntington’s reply to GW of 11 Nov. [DLC:GW] and JCC, description begins Worthington Chauncey Ford et al., eds. Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774-1789. 34 vols. Washington, D.C., 1904–37. description ends 15:1246–47; see also Huntington to Van Dyke, 6 Nov. 1779, DNA:PCC, item 14).

John Van Dyke, of Elizabeth, N.J., joined the 2d Continental Artillery Regiment as a first lieutenant in January 1777 and became captain lieutenant of the regiment in 1779. Van Dyke later wrote that he went to sea, but that two days out his ship was captured, and he was sent to the British prison hulk Jersey in the East River. He was later exchanged (John Van Dyke, “Narrative of confinement in the Jersey Prison Ship by John Van Dyke, Captain in Lambs Regiment … ,” Historical Magazine, vol. 7 [1863]: 147–151). After the war, Van Dyke lived in New York City.

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