To Robert Morris
Valley-forge Feby 10th 1778.
Your favor of the 19th Ulto by Colo. Armand came to my hands a few days ago.1 rest assured my good Sir, that that Gentn mis-conceives the matter exceedingly if he thinks my conduct towards him is influenced in the smallest degree by motives of resentment, arising from misrepresentn.
I have ever looked upon him as a spirited Officer, and every thing that was in my power to do for him (consistently with the great line of my duty) I have done; but the conduct which Congress unhappily adopted in the early part of this War by giving high rank to foreigners, who enjoyed little or none in their own Country, & in many instances of equivocal characters; has put it out of their power without convulsing the whole Military system, to employ these people now; for viewing rank relatively, the man who has been a Major for instance, in the French Service finding a Subaltern (there) a field Officer in ours, extends his views at once to a Brigade, or at least to a Regiment—and where is either of them to be found? without displacing, or disgusting our own Officers, whose pretensions would be injured by it, & whose natural interest in, & attachment to the cause of their Country, is more to be relied on than superior abilities in capricious foreigners; who are dissatisfied with any rank you can give them, while there is yet higher to attain.
With respect to the particular case of Colo. Armand, I have only to add, that if it was in my power to serve him, I would, notwithstanding he was influenced to resign in a pet. The Corps he commanded has, long since, been reduced to a mere handful of Men (under 50) & you are sensible that it is not in my power to raise any new ones without the authority of Congress.2
Mrs Washington who is now in Camp, desires me to offer her respectful complimts to Mrs Morris3 & yourself, to which be so good as to add those of Dr Sir, Yr Most Obedt Servt
ALS (photocopy), ViMtvL; ALS, sold by Stan V. Henkels, Philadelphia, 15 Dec. 1891, item 126. GW addressed the letter to Morris “at Manheim.”
1. This letter has not been found.
2. Col. Armand-Charles Tuffin, marquis de La Rouërie, whom Morris had recommended to GW on 10 May 1777, long had been angling for a commission as brigadier general and command of a reorganized partisan corps (see his letter to Congress of 28 Dec. 1777 and Laurens’s reply of 2 Jan. 1778, in DNA:PCC, items 164 and 13). Frustrated at the apparent indifference with which Congress greeted his proposals, Armand wrote the Board of War at the beginning of February proposing to resign his commission as colonel unless Congress immediately promoted him to brigadier general (DNA:PCC, item 164). With an alacrity that must have stunned the marquis, Congress immediately resolved to accept his resignation after reading his letter on 3 February. On the next day Armand thought the better of his resignation and “requested to keep his former commission, which was granted” (JCC description begins Worthington Chauncey Ford et al., eds. Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774-1789. 34 vols. Washington, D.C., 1904–37. description ends , 10:112). Armand’s suspicion of GW’s “motives of resentment, arising from misrepresentn,” may have originated in accusations made by civilians in September 1777 that Armand’s corps had been plundering homes near Head of Elk, Md. (see GW to Armand, 2 Sept. 1777, and Armand’s reply of the same date).
3. Mary White (1749–1827) married Robert Morris in 1769.