George Washington Papers

From George Washington to Jonathan Trumbull, Sr., 10 November 1776

To Jonathan Trumbull, Sr.

Head Quarters [White Plains] Novemr 10th 1776


I was yesterday1 favored with a Call from the Gentlemen appointed Commissioners from your State to arrange your Officers and to adopt some line of conduct for recruiting the Quota of men which you are to furnish.

In discussing this subject the gentlemen informed me that your Assembly, to induce their men to enlist more readily into the service, have passed a vote advancing their pay twenty shillings pr month over and above that allowed by Congress.2

It is seldom that I interfere in the determinations of any public body, or venture to hold forth any opinion contrary to the decisions which they form; but upon this occasion, and being requested by the Commissioners to give my sentiments, I must take the liberty to mention (especially as the influence of that vote will be general and Continental) that according to my ideas and those of every general Officer I have consulted with, a more mistaken policy could not have been adopted, or one that would, in its consequences, more effectually prevent the great object Congress have in view, and which the situation of our affairs so loudly calls for, the levying of a new Army—That the advance allowed by your State may be the means of raising your own Quota of men sooner than it otherwise would, perhaps may be true; but when it is considered that it will be an effectual bar to the other States raising their Quotas3—when it is certain that if their Quotas could be made up without this advance coming to their knowledge; that the moment they come to act with Troops who receive a higher pay, that jealousy, impatience and mutiny will immediately take place and occasion desertions, if not a total dissolution of the Army, it must be received4 in an injurious and fatal point of light. That Troops embarked in the same cause and doing the same duties will not long act together with harmony, for deficient pays must be obvious to every one.5 Experience has already proved it in this Army—Whether Congress will take up the matter and make the advance General is what I cannot undertake to determine; but I conceive there is but little probability of it, as the addition of a suit of cloathes to the former pay of the privates was long debated before it could be obtained.6

I could enumerate many ill consequences which must arise from the measure, which are omitted for want of opportunity. Those I have mentioned I am persuaded will appear obvious to you upon reflection, and I trust as they were dictated by a firm regard to the service, that they will not only have your attention but your pardon. I have the honor to be in haste Sir your most obedient Servant

Go: Washington

LB, Ct: Trumbull Papers; Df, DLC:GW; Varick transcript, DLC:GW. The last paragraph of the LB is omitted in both the draft and Varick transcript.

1The draft reads: “I was yesterday Evening.”

2The Connecticut general assembly during its 10 Oct.—7 Nov. session “ordered, that Roger Sherman, Abraham Davenport, Thaddeus Burr, and John Davenport, Esq’rs., or any three of them, should repair to the army, under the command of Gen. Washington, and with the advice of the general officers belonging to this State in said army, to arrange into regiments and companies, the officers appointed by the Assembly for said battalions to be raised in the State, and number their commissions according to their rank” (Hinman, Historical Collection description begins Royal R. Hinman, comp. A Historical Collection, from Official Records, Files &c., of the Part Sustained by Connecticut, during the War of the Revolution. Hartford, 1842. description ends , 240). For the assembly’s earlier appointment of officers for the state’s eight new regiments, see ibid., 234–36.

Upon learning during its session that Massachusetts intended to supplement the pay of its soldiers by twenty shillings a month from state funds, the Connecticut assembly resolved that the soldiers and noncommissioned officers who enlisted in the state’s new regiments “should have and receive from the State of Connecticut so much over and above the wages allowed and offered, or that should be allowed and offered by the Continental Congress, as would make up the pay of a soldier to £3 per month during said service, and the pay of a non-commissioned officer in proportion thereto” (ibid., 234; see also Hancock to GW, 9–c.12 Nov., and note 4, and Trumbull to GW, 13 November).

3The draft reads: “raising the Quotas from them.” The Varick transcript reads: “raising the Quotas exacted from them,” although the word “exacted” is struck out in the draft.

4The draft reads: “It must be viewed.”

5In the draft this sentence reads: “That Troops will never act together in the same cause and for different pay must be obvious to every one.”

6In the draft this sentence reads: “That Congress will take up the matter and make the advance generl, is a matter of which there can be but little probability as the addition of a Suit of Cloaths to the former pay of the privates was a long time debated before it could be obtained.”

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