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Report and Remarks, 3 April 1781

New Windsor 3d April 1781.

Report of a Committee of Congress, with

General Washington’s remarks, at their request.

Report.

1st That Battalion promotions in the Infantry to the Rank of Commanding Officer inclusive, where such Battalion is annexed to any State shall be in the line of such State.

Remarks.

1st. Approved.


Report

2d. That in Regiments of Infantry not annexed to any particular States, promotions to the Rank of commanding Officer inclusive be Regimental.

Remarks

2d. That in Regiments of Infantry or Legionary Corps not annexed to any particular States, promotions to the rank of commanding Officer [   ] be Regimental or Legionary.


Report

3d. That Regimental promotions in the Artillery to the Rank of commanding Officer inclusive shall be in the line of Artillery at large.

Remarks

3d. That promotions in the Artillery be regimental to the rank of Captain, and from thence to the rank of commanding Officer in the line of the Artillery at large, as is the present mode. My reasons are [these:] To make it wholly regimental might be injurious to the senior Captains, and would certainly be so to the Service; as the presumption of merit & knowledge must be in favor of those who have seen most Service—a lineal rise throughout will be attended with insuperable disadvantages & inconveniences—The regiments are and will be at the extremities of the States, and if a Captain or Subaltern must be obliged to go from the one to the other to take his place in the Regiment to which he may be promoted, he will probably resign, rather than incur the immense expence attending it—and the promotion of Subs.—& from Subs. to Captns being very frequent, these changes of place will also become frequent—The promotions of Field Officers being rare, they will not only be enabled better to bear the expence than the others, but the public may make them some allowance for the charges of making the exchange of Corps—Another, and a very material reason for prefering the line of promotion I have recommended is, that the regiments being dispersed it will be extremely difficult to keep a roster of Rank, and to know who are entitled to succession.


Report

4th: That Regimental promotions, in the Cavalry to the Rank of Commanding Officer inclusive shall be in the line of Cavalry at large.

Remarks

4th. That promotions in the four established Regiments of Cavalry be regimental to the rank of Captain, & from thence to the rank of Commanding Officer in the line of the four regiments at large—My reasons the same as those offered upon the promotion of the Artillery.


Report

5th: With respect to promoting Battalion Officers to the Rank of Brigadiers, your Committee beg leave to report as their opinion &c. &c.

Remarks

5th—Classing of States for the purpose of forming Brigades and giving Brigadiers, [is] not so agreeable to my ideas of Military propriety as either of the modes [   ] pointed out in my letter of the 20th of December; nor do I see how the smaller States can be excluded, by the mode there mentioned, from giving a Brigadier, when the Colonels belonging to them are the Senior Officers, and have an act of Congress in their favor as a rule of promotion.

Brigades, from the nature of Service, are liable to alteration, & must take different forms according to the strength of the Corps—the disposition of the Army, the order of Battle—and other circumstances; which often are the result of necessity and of the moment, and of which none but the Officer commanding is supposed to be a judge. To determine therefore by act of Congress, that certain Corps shall form Brigades is, in my opinion, striking at the essential priviledges of command, and embarrassing the Officer at the head of the Army.

If the resolve simply means that, New Hampshire and Massachusetts are to give four Brigadiers—that these four Brigadiers shall be compleated from the oldest Colonels in these two States (and so in like manner with respect to the other Classes)—and it shall be explicitly declared that this is only intended to fix the principle of promotion for the Colonels, & not meant to interfere with the manner, & mode of Brigading the Troops, then my objections, in great measure, will cease.


Report

6th: That in the Cavalry and Artillery Brigadiers shall be made from the eldest Regimental Officers in these Corps respectively.

Remarks

6th—Approved.


Report

7th That Majors General shall be made from the eldest Brigadiers in the Army whether belonging to the Infantry. Cavalry or Artillery.

Remarks

7th—Approved.


Report

8th That all Brigadiers hereafter made shall take relative Rank agreeable to the date of their last Battalion Commission.

Remarks8th—To obviate all disputes which might arise upon the construction of the resolve as it stands on the other side—I would propose the following "That should two or more Brigadiers be hereafter made upon the same day—they shall rank with each other according to the dates of their last Battalion Commissions"—for if appointments of older date are called in question or to be affected by them, it will give much uneasiness, & create great confusion.


Report

9th and 10th That Tench Tilghman Esq: receive the Commission of Lieut. Colonel to take Rank from   and Doctor McHenry the Commission of Major to take Rank from  .

Remarks

9th—and 10th—Mr Tilghmans Commission to be dated the 1st of april 1777. Mr McHenrys from the time at which Genl Greene applied in his favr—(last Octobr).


Report

11th: That Officers in Commission not annexed to any line serving in the family of the Commanr in Chief or those serving as Aides de Camp with other General Officers retain the same Rank they now hold and shall be intitled to promotion when they become the eldest Officers of that Rank in the line of the Army.

Remarks

11th—After the words now hold, I would propose to insert—and be eligible to command upon detachments when the Commander in chief or Commanding Officer of a department shall think proper.

I also think that if there are any Aids of old standing and uniform Service who have not been Commd that they ought to be.

Report

12th: That Officers reduced by the late arrangement may at any time previous to the 1st day of January next exchange Commissions with Officers of the same State and of the same Rank in the Army under the direction and with the approbation of the Commander in Chief.

Remarks

12th—Should this practice be admissible, it would not only injure the Service, but derange & convulse the whole Army. It is presumed that, by the late reform, we have retained the best Officers in Service (exceptg in a few instances)—therefore to give the reformed such an oppertunity of coming in, would, in general, be exchanging for the worse—disputes of Rank which are now pretty well settled would be revived, and the registers of the Army which have been lately transmitted to the Board of War, and which are the proper references for future promotions, would be thereby so mutilated that they would encrease confusion instead of throwing light upon the matter. Besides these—The Commander in Chief would have the disagreeable task of giving his judgment upon the propriety of readmitting the applicant into the Army.


Report

13th: That Volunteers serving one Campaign may with the approbation of the Commander in Chief receive Brevet Commissions in the lowest Grades of Subalterns, not to receive pay till placed in command, and shall not be intitled to half pay for life—till annexed to some Line. agreed.

Remarks

13th—Reasonable and useful, in every respect but that of obliging them to wait twelve months before they can fill vacancies & derive the benefits arisg from Commissions in the lines of States. Had not the limitation better be take[n] off, and the time left to that of recommendation by the Commander in Chief or Commanding Officer of a seperate Army?


Report

14th: All Officers not connected with Corps and now intitled to Rank in the Army by this arrangement shall be considered as reduced and receive half pay so long as they reside within the United States or owe allegiance to them.

Remarks

14th—The number of Officers under this description are now reduced to a few, and I therefore do not think the saving intended by the measure ought to be put in competition with the injury wch may be involved in it. There are particularly some Foreigners of Merit (Colo. Jemat Galvan and several serving to the Southward whose names I do not remember) who have been recommended by the present and former Minister, and by Officers of high rank & character in France who would be affected by it. As would some valuable Officers of our own, acting in the Military Staff. Besides, if some reservation is not made, your Resolve, as it now stands, would exclude all Aides de Camp not belonging to State lines, or Corps in Service.

Report

15th: That the Commander in Chief may employ such reduced Officers as he shall think proper in the Military Staff or in the inspectors department who are constantly to attend their duty in the Army.

Remarks

15th—Should a resolve of this nature be made public, the applications to the Commander in chief would be numberless, and would lay him under the disagreeable necessity of informing many that they were not fit to fill the places for wch they applied.

I would rather let the matter rest, and would prefer making a particular application to Congress in favor of an Officer of uncommon merit and ability, to opening a door by which all would endeavor to intrude.


Report

16th: That all Officers who are Hostages &ca &ca.

Remarks

16th—Reasonable & proper.


Report

17th: That Colo. Dayton of the Jersey Line be promoted to the Rank of Brigadier General in the Army of the United States.

Remarks

17th—Upon the principle of Classing Colo. Dayton must be excluded, because Van Schaick and (I believe) Hazen are both older Colonels than him. The principle therefore would be violated in the moment of its adoption, should he be promoted.

Note,

There is a matter respecting rank, which may, if not well understood and settled by an act of Congress, hereafter involve disagreeable disputes.

It is, whether Officers commanding Regimts under the denomination of Lieutt Colonels Commandant, acquire a new rank when they come to such appointment—and take command of those who are simply Lieutt Colonels in Regiments commanded by full Colonels—altho’ the latter may be older Lieutenant Colonels in the line of the Army than they are.

The Committee are undoubtedly acquainted with the reasons for abolishing the rank of Colonel in our Army. It was to put us upon a footing with the enemy in point of Exchanges—(they having few or none of that rank in service in this Country)—The Officers of the Army, and even those who are immediately interested in the matter, [put different] constructions upon it—The Lieutt Colonels Commandant, generally, think they acquire a grade by that appointment, and some Lieutt Colonels submit to it, Others again observe that, after the resolve abolishing the rank of Colonel in the Army, they only acquire the property of certain Regiments in the lines to which they may belong, but no encrease of Rank--for say they--there being no intermediate rank (and if there was exchanges wd be rendered more difficult) between a Lieutt Colo. and a full Colonel, they must be one or the other in fact—And they ask, if it should be determined that they are not considered simply as Lieutt Colonels, whether the enemy will not hold them as full Colonels, and thereby defeat the intention of the resolve?

It is true new Commissions have been issued to Lieutt Colonels Commandant bearing date at the time which they came to the Command of Regiments—But whether this has been done by order, or by the construction wch the Board of War have put upon the matter, I do not know.

I have stated the matter just as it now stands and would wish, for very particular reasons that Congress would decide upon the point without refering it to me.

The Committee will find herewith the Copy of a letter from General Knox to me, offering very cogent reasons for making new appointments in the Artillery depend upon recommendations from the Colonels to the General Officer Commanding it—and from him to Congress—The Corps of Artillery is, at present, upon a very respectable footing as to its officers; and I should wish to see every possible method pursued to improve it further—The mode pointed out by General Knox appears to me an eligible one—You will find my ideas of promotion in that Corps, are consonant to his.

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DNA: Item 152, Letters from George Washington, PCC—Papers of the Continental Congress.

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