George Washington Papers

From George Washington to the Maryland Delegates of the Continental Congress, 17 August 1777

To the Maryland Delegates of the Continental Congress

Neshameni Camp [Pa.] August 17, 1777


I beg leave to trouble you with a few lines on a subject which I wish to have your attention. I was just now informed that Lieut. McNaire, of the Artillery, has been arrested, and stands bound over to the next Court to be held for Hertford County, for enlisting two men to serve in one of the Continental Regiments of Artillery. This, it is said, is in consequence of an Act of your Assembly, by which all Officers are prohibited from enlisting men within the State, unless they are of the Regiments belonging to it.1 I have never seen the Law, and therefore can not pretend to determine how far the prohibition extends, but should suppose, it was only designed to prevent the Officers of other States enlisting men to fill up the Regiments assigned as their Quota. So far, it appears to me, the Act would be founded in the strictest justice; but when there is an absolute necessity for Artillery Corps, when three such Regiments were ordered to be raised by Congress, without being apportioned on any particular State, certainly, each should furnish a proportion of them. This case is quite otherwise—All in this Line now with the Army have been enlisted in the New England States, a few excepted, ⟨and the⟩ greatest part in that of Massachusetts, over and above their ⟨Quota⟩ of the 88 Battalions first voted, and a proportion of the ad⟨dition⟩al 16. I will not say anything of the policy or impolicy ⟨of this⟩ Act, if it has a more extensive operation than I have s⟨upposed⟩ it to have, but I would take the liberty to observe, ⟨that⟩ in my opinion, it would be for the advantage of the State⟨s, if⟩ each of ’em had men employed in this important br⟨anch of⟩ war, not to add, that the whole ought to contribute ⟨equally⟩ to the filling of all Corps that are deemed essential ⟨and⟩ which are not allotted to any individual one—Cap⟨tn Lieut.⟩ McClure will deliver you this Letter,2 and I should hop⟨e,⟩ thro’ your application and intercession with the Court of Harford, so far as they may be consistent, that Lieut. McNa⟨ire⟩ may be discharged from his recognisance, if he has not offended in any other instance against the Laws of the State. I have the honor to be, with great respect, Gentlemen, Your most obedt servt

Go: Washington

LS, in Samuel Shaw’s writing, enclosed in William Paca to Thomas Johnson, 19 Aug. 1777, MdAA; Df, DLC:GW; Varick transcript, DLC:GW. The text in angle brackets is mutilated and supplied from the draft. Of the six Maryland delegates to the Continental Congress, only Samuel Chase, William Paca, and William Smith were in attendance at this time (see Smith, Letters of Delegates description begins Paul H. Smith et al., eds. Letters of Delegates to Congress, 1774–1789. 26 vols. Washington, D.C., 1976–2000. description ends , 7:xv-xvi).

1For the Maryland general assembly’s act of 29 June 1777 reinforcing the American army and restricting the enlistment of its citizens, see Mordecai Gist to GW, 8 July, and note 1. James McNaire (d. 1778) served as a lieutenant in Col. John Lamb’s 2d Continental Artillery Regiment from 1 Jan. 1777 until he was killed at the Battle on Monmouth on 28 June 1778.

2James McClure of New Hampshire, who had served as an adjutant in the New Hampshire militia in the fall of 1776, was commissioned a captain-lieutenant in the 2d Continental Artillery on 1 Jan. 1777. McClure served as a captain in the 4th Continental Artillery Regiment from April 1781 to 1 Jan. 1783, when he retired from the service.

Index Entries