George Washington Papers

General Orders, 21 May 1777

General Orders

Head-Quarters, Morristown May 21st 1777.

Parole: Cambridge.Countersign: Dorchester.

Michael Ryan Esqr: (late Brigade Major to the Garrison of Ticonderoga, and Fort Independence) is appointed to that duty in Brigadier Genl Wayne’s Brigade; and to be respected and obeyed as such.1

Varick transcript, DLC:GW.

1Michael Ryan (d. 1791), who had been commissioned a second lieutenant in the 4th Pennsylvania Regiment in January 1776, became adjutant of that regiment in March 1776 and brigade major to Gen. Arthur St. Clair in September 1776. Ryan served as Wayne’s brigade major until 29 Mar. 1778 when he was named inspector of the 1st Pennsylvania Brigade (see General Orders, that date). Appointed major of the 10th Pennsylvania Regiment in October 1777, Ryan had to relinquish that commission in February 1778 when a board of officers ruled that as a brigade major he could not also hold rank in the regimental line (see General Orders, 11, 15, 20 Feb., Ryan to GW, 9 April, and GW to Ryan, 10 April 1778, DLC:GW). In the spring of 1779, Ryan was obliged to quit serving as brigade inspector because new congressional resolutions required brigade inspectors to hold rank in the line as majors and he then could claim only a captaincy in the 5th Pennsylvania Regiment. Denied a brevet commission as major that would have let him remain a brigade inspector, Ryan resigned from the army in June 1779 (see Ryan to the Board of War, 28 May, Timothy Pickering to GW, 29 May, Arthur St. Clair to GW, 31 May [second letter], GW to St. Clair, 2 June, GW to the Board of War, 9 June 1779, DLC:GW; and Ryan to GW, 13 June 1779, DNA: RG 93, Commissions, 1775–78). In 1780 Ryan became inspector of the Pennsylvania militia with the rank of lieutenant colonel and brigade major of the 1st City Brigade of Philadelphia. After the war he moved to Virginia where he became involved in an abortive western land settlement scheme (see Ryan to GW, 23 Dec. 1787).

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