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To George Washington from Brigadier General William Smallwood, 18 December 1779

From Brigadier General William Smallwood

Camp [Jockey Hollow] 18th December 1779.


The above is an Extract of the last Letter I have received from Colo. Richardson on the Subject of his Rank & Resignation,1 which you will observe fixes the latter on the 22d October 1779—and relinquishes Pay and Subsistence from the first of March last—but in a Letter antecedent to this (dated the first of July) on the above Subjects, he intimates, that he should wish to relinquish his Pay and Subsistance from the Time the Arrangement was approved and published, which with respect to the Rank of Field Officers and Captains took place not ’till the 16th April, and that of the Subalterns not ’till the 27 May following.

This Circumstance I imagine he was not acquainted with, but supposed the Arrangement was published on the 1st of March—in justice to him I have been induced to make this Remark, as I am satisfied he meant not to disclaim Pay & Subsistence ’till the Rank was published, & his Pretensions set aside—it will therefore rest with you to determine, and order on which of these dates his Pay and Subsistence shall cease—I have inclosed his Commission to be indorsed, and transmitted to him, and am with great Regard Yr Excellency’s Most Obedt Hble Servt

W. Smallwood

LS, DNA: RG 93, manuscript file no. 1575. GW’s secretary Robert Hanson Harrison wrote an undated note at the end of the LS: “Colo. Richardson allowed to draw pay & subsistence to 15 Apl.”

Harrison then wrote letters to the regimental paymaster and paymaster general. His letter of 20 Dec. to Lt. Jonathan Gibson, paymaster of the 5th Maryland Regiment, reads: “Colo. Richardson of the 5th Maryld Regiment having by Letter to Genl Smallwood, an Extract of which has been communicated to His Excellency the Commander in Chief—relinquished his pay & subsistence from last Spring—I have it in command to inform You—that All money drawn on his Account for pay and subsistence since the 16th of April last inclusive—is to be returned to the Deputy pay Mr Genl” (DLC:GW).

1The extract, which appears above Smallwood’s letter to GW, apparently came from Col. William Richardson’s letter to Smallwood written at Gilpin (Gilpins) Point, Caroline County, Md., on 22 October. That extract reads: “Your favor of 25th Ultimo was delivered me by Mr Woulds the 13th Inst. which gave much pleasure and the more so, as I had given over the Thoughts of hearing from you: I thank you very much for the inclosed Papers, I wanted greatly to see them. My Indignation is roused at the glaring Partialities gross Absurdities Childish Reasoning & palpable falsities set forth in the Report of the General Committee which sat on our Rank; but I decline for the present any further remarks on that singular performance, than to lament the loss, in our exalted Characters of those refined Sentiments of Justice which shone forth with so much lustre in the Ancient Roman Generals: hereafter I may furnish you with my Strictures on this affair.

“I readily admit that from the present Appearance of affairs in general many advantages might possibly result to me and mine by continuing in Service; but to continue under the Idea of suffering gross injustice is incompatible with my Notions of Honor, to which every other consideration with me must give way. Was Colo. [Thomas] Price out of the Service I might remain with a better grace Gists Promotion being within the rules of Congress.

“Before this can reach you, you will receive mine of the 18th or 20th September Covering one to the Baron DeKalb in answer to his Ordering me to join my Regiment. When I wrote I had been ill for several Weeks & was then but just able to set up Consequently in a fretful mood (as indeed I always am whenever any thing brings in my Mind the Settlement of our rank) from whence I conclude my Letter to the Baron was rather harsh—therefore shall be glad if you kept it up and gave in my resignation yourself. My relinquishing Pay & Subsistance from 1st of March last will I expect, wipe off any little mean dirty imputation respecting my long Absence; for poor as I am rendered by the Service, I want not to receive the public Money for sitting by my own Fire side, tho’ unable for a great part of my Absence to do Duty” (DNA: RG 93, manuscript file no. 1575; see also GW to the Board of War, 6 Dec.).

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