George Washington Papers
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From George Washington to the President of the Maryland Senate and the Speaker of the Maryland House of Delegates, 5 October 1778

To the President of the Maryland Senate and the Speaker of the Maryland House of Delegates

Head Qrs Octor 5: 1778

Gentlemen

Among the various disputes upon the subject of rank in the Army, there have not been found any more difficult to settle, than the claims of this nature, in the Maryland line. These have been matter of employment for a Board of General Officers for several days,1 and, after all their care and assiduity, I fear, no arrangement that they can make, will prove entirely satisfactory. There is one point, about which the Board and myself have doubts, Viz. the construction and extent of the powers with which the Assembly were pleased to honor me, by their Resolution of the 11th of April 1778, transmitted in a Letter of the 18th of the same month.2 Neither they nor I know with the precision we could wish, whether the Resolution meant to confer powers for changing the appointment of any Officer made by the Assembly, by adding or taking away a grade where it might appear right; or whether it only intended to authorise an alteration in the instance of precedence, among those of similar rank, where it should be found, that mistakes had taken place in that respect. Satisfaction in these points, may affect the decision of the Board—and make a material difference in the Arrangement. I shall be happy to receive such Answer, as you may think proper to honor me with by the earliest opportunity, as nothing will contribute more to the service, than a speedy and final conclusion of the disputes upon this Head.3 I made some attempts in the course of the last year to have them adjusted, but without effect. I have the Honor to be with great respect & esteem Gentn Yr Most Obed. sert

G. Washington

Df, in Robert Hanson Harrison’s writing, DLC:GW; copy, DLC:GW; Varick transcript, DLC:GW. The draft is addressed: to “The Honble Danl of St Thomas Jenifer president of the senate & The Honble The Speaker of the House of Delegates of Maryland.” William Fitzhugh was speaker of the house from 1778 to 1779.

On 4 Oct. Harrison, who apparently had recently returned from Fishkill to John Kane’s house in Pawling ahead of GW and the rest of his staff, wrote Maj. Gen. Alexander McDougall: “There is a point respecting the Maryland arrangement, on which His Excellency [GW] desires to obtain your and Generals Parsons & Knox’s sentiments, as early as he can. As the papers are here—and the matter will soon be decided when you are together, I shall be happy if you can make it convenient to ride to Mr. Cane’s (the General’s Qurs) this forenoon; and that you will come with a determination to dine with me. I have written to Genls Parsons & Knox upon the subject.” (NHi: McDougall Papers). Harrison’s letters to Parsons and Knox have not been identified. GW returned to Kane’s house from Fishkill on 8 Oct. (see particularly GW to Charles Scott, 8 Oct.).

1For the appointment of this board of general officers on 18 Aug., and its report on 7 Sept., see General Orders, 18 Aug., and note 1 to that document.

2The year given here is incorrect. GW is referring to the Maryland general assembly’s resolution of 11 April 1777 arranging the ranks of the state’s Continental officers, which was enclosed in the letter that senate president Daniel of St. Thomas Jenifer and house speaker Nicholas Thomas wrote to GW on 18 April 1777. For the resolution, see Md. House Proc., Feb. 1777 description begins Votes and Proceedings of the House of Delegates of the State of Maryland. February Session, 1777. Being the First Session of this Assembly. [Annapolis, 1777]. description ends , 61–63, 82, and Md. Senate Proc., Feb. 1777 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 , 33, 47.

3For the Maryland assembly’s delayed action in settling these disputes over rank, see William Fitzhugh to GW, 24 Oct. 1778 and 2 Jan. 1779, DLC:GW, and the President of the Maryland Senate and the Speaker of the Maryland House of Delegates to GW, 8 Dec. 1778, DNA: RG 93, manuscript file no. 30145; and 26 Mar. 1779, DLC:GW.

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