George Washington Papers
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From George Washington to Brigadier General William Smallwood and the Officers of the Maryland Line, 16 February 1779

To Brigadier General William Smallwood and the Officers of the Maryland Line

Head Quarters Middle Brook 16th Feby 1779

Gentlemen

The Business, upon which I have called you together, is, to request you to scrutinize1 the terms upon which the old Soldiers of the Maryland line were inlisted, in order that justice may be done to the public and to those individuals who are really intitled to the Bounty of Congress upon reinlisting for the War.

I always understood, and reported accordingly to Congress, that a much greater number of the Soldiers of the Maryland line were inlisted for the War, than I find now returned for that Term. I have never had a clear or full representation of the matter, but I am informed that the difference2 arises upon a doubt of the interpretation of the Words in the inlistments of numbers of the Men, which specify that they are to serve for three Years or during theWar. To determine the true intent and meaning of those words it will be necessary to recur to the orders issued by the State to the Officers who were employed to recruit, and also to endeavour to find out the precise Ideas of the State at the time. That is, whether the term of the Service was to be at the option of the public or the Individual. In short I would wish you to make every possible inquiry by examining carefully into the original inlistments—into the Regimental and Company Boo⟨ks, (by⟩ which it will appear how those Men were considered before the Bounty brought the matter into dispute3) and by such other means as your judgments shall direct. When you have come to a determination, be pleased to direct Lists to be made out in the several Regiments of such Men as are clearly in your opinions at liberty to reinlist for the War. I am with great Respect Gentlemen Your most obt Servt

Go: Washington

LS, in Tench Tilghman’s writing, PWacD: Sol Feinstone Collection, on deposit at PPAmP; Df, DLC:GW; Varick transcript, DLC:GW. GW franked the cover of the LS, which Tilghman addressed: “To Brigadier Genl Smallwood—The Feild Officers and Commandants of Regiments in the Maryland Line.” Smallwood wrote an undated letter or order on the LS manuscript.

1At this place on the draft manuscript, Tilghman first wrote “take into consideration.” He then struck out that phrase and inserted: “request you to scrutinize strictly.”

2At this place on the draft manuscript, Tilghman first wrote “a doubt.” He then struck out those words and wrote “the difference” above the line.

3At this place on the draft manuscript, Tilghman first wrote “consideration.” He then struck out that word and wrote “dispute” above the line.

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