George Washington Papers

To George Washington from John McKinly, 8 April 1777

From John McKinly

Wilmington [Del.] 8th April. 1777.


The General Assembly of this State having adjourned to a distant day some time before your favour of the 4th Ult., I could not have their assistance in the nomination of the Officers wanting in the Battalion of this state, which you were pleased to refer to me. I therefore called upon my Council with whose concurrence I made the appointment[s] specified in the enclosed list.1 My ardent wish to discharge this trust in such a manner, as to answer the interest, & expectations of the public, & give satisfaction to your excellency, has probably occasioned such a delay as to induce a suspicion of inattention in me, but be assured it has not been so. Some difficulties which it is unnecessary to trouble you with have been the cause. The present arrangement of officers is in the line of the Battalion & though their promotion has been rather rapid, I fondly hope they will support the character of the Regiment: There are no officers in this list above the rank of Ensign who were not commissioned in the same Battalion under the new regulations & of the Ensigns five were sergeants, & warmly recommended to me for their good conduct and fitness by other officers. The whole of this promotion is according to Seniority except as to Messrs Hearney & Stewart, whose Ranks & Merits justly entitled [them] to Companies, but as they were unfortunate, by [being] made prisoners on Long Island, & not yet exchanged, it was thought the public service required their being postponed for the present.2 The captains, Patton, Moore, & Hazard are on their march to Philada for equipment; with about 120 men as they inform me—the remaing 3 companies are under marching orders, but am uncertain of their number,3 & suspect they are not so forward. Our little State is filled with recruiting-parties, from every quarter, & we have lost a considerable number of inhabitants by a contagious distemper spread among us by the returning soldiers—I mentioned to Colo. Bedford and Major McDonagh your surprise of not hearing of their refusal to engage in the service again, untill my letter of the 28th February when I was told by the first gentleman that he had not received yours, making the offer of the regiment to him, for several weeks after it was dated that by the post marks thereon it appeared to have been carried to Baltimore returned to head quarters & brought back to Philadelphia that as soon after he had obtained Mr McDonaghs answer who lives at a distance from him, he had written to your excellency of their declining to accept: & intrusting the forwarding his letter to a Mr Tilghman of Philadelphia.4 I am further to inform your excellency of the receipt of a line of the 14th ult. from Colonels Tench Tilghman enclosing a letter for the commanding officer of the Delaware Battalion, which I delivered to Colo. Hall on his appointment.5 Your Excellency may rest assured of my utmost aid in every measure within my small circle. I have the honor to be with most respect Sir, Your most humble servant

John McKinly


1This list of officers nominated for the Delaware Regiment, which is dated 5 April, is in DLC:GW.

2Jonathan (Genethan) Harney (d. 1784), who was commissioned a first lieutenant in the Delaware Regiment on 16 Jan. 1776, and Alexander Stewart, who was made a second lieutenant in the regiment on 18 Jan. 1776 and was promoted to first lieutenant on 28 Nov. 1776, were captured at the Battle of Long Island on 27 Aug. 1776 (see Samuel John Atlee’s account of the battle in Force, American Archives description begins Peter Force, ed. American Archives. 9 vols. Washington, D.C., 1837–53. description ends , 5th ser., 1:1251–55). Both men are named first lieutenants in the enclosed list of Delaware officers. After their exchange sometime later this year, Harney rejoined the Delaware Regiment, but Stewart, disappointed at not being promoted to captain, did not return to duty (see Samuel John Atlee to Caesar Rodney, 6 April 1778, in Ryden, Rodney Letters description begins George Herbert Ryden, ed. Letters to and from Caesar Rodney, 1756–1784. Philadelphia, 1933. description ends , 259). Harney resigned his commission in September 1778 probably for the same reason.

3The eight companies in the Delaware Regiment were commanded by captains John Patten, Robert Kirkwood, James Moore, Enoch Anderson, Thomas Holland, John Learmonth, Cord Hazzard, and Peter Jaquett. John Patten (Patton; 1746–1800), who had been appointed a first lieutenant in the Delaware Regiment on 15 Jan. 1776, was commissioned a captain on 30 Nov. 1776. Promoted to major of the Delaware Regiment in December 1779, Patten was captured at the Battle of Camden on 16 Aug. 1780, and he spent the remainder of the war on parole. Patten was a delegate to the Continental Congress in 1786, and he served in the U.S. Congress between 1793 and 1797. James Moore was commissioned a first lieutenant in the Delaware Regiment on 19 Jan. 1776 and a captain on 2 Dec. 1776. Captured at Newtown Square, Pa., on 20 Jan. 1778, Moore was exchanged in December 1780. He then rejoined the regiment and served as a captain until 30 Sept. 1783, when he was brevetted a major. Cord Hazzard (1750–1831), who had become an ensign in the Delaware Regiment on 13 Jan. 1776, was wounded at the Battle of White Plains on 28 Oct. 1776. Promoted to first lieutenant on 30 Nov. 1776 and captain on 5 April 1777, Hazzard participated the following fall in the defense of Fort Mifflin, where an exploding shell rendered him so deaf that he was obliged to resign his commission in January 1778.

4For the offer of these appointments, see GW to Gunning Bedford, 9 Jan. 1777. Bedford’s reply has not been found.

5See Circular to the Colonels of Various Continental Regiments, 12 March. Tench Tilghman’s covering note to McKinly of 14 Mar. has not been identified. David Hall (1752–1817), a lawyer from Lewes, Del., was commissioned a captain in the Delaware Regiment on 16 Jan. 1777 and became its colonel on 5 April 1777. Severely wounded at the Battle of Germantown on 4 Oct. 1777, Hall was absent from his regiment for long periods of time because of ill health, but he retained his commission until May 1782, when he retired. Hall was governor of Delaware from 1802 to 1805.

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