George Washington Papers

From George Washington to Brigadier General George Weedon, 15 March 1778

To Brigadier General George Weedon

Valley Forge March 15th 1778.

Dr Sir

The situation of the Army in respect to General Officers at this time—the anxiety of General Woodford to visit his family, and the fast approach of the period for opening the Campaign urge me to request, that you will return to Camp as soon as possible. It is unnecessary for me to enlarge upon this subject. Your precise and accurate knowledge of our circumstances, in this instance, will suggest to you at once, that your presence here is exceedingly material. A great number of Officers are now absent, and many more are pressing for the same purpose and must be indulged.1

Your claim of rank is not yet adjusted. It has been before a board of General Officers by request of the Committee of Congress. They declined determining the matter, but after considering your several pretensions reported, (I believe unanimously) that Genl Woodford ought to have been restored to his rank when he was appointed; and that Genls Muhlenberg and Scott should have been promoted next. The Committee have referred the question to Congress again, and it yet remains for their decision.2

I am heartily sorry that there should have been grounds for a dispute of this nature, and should be happy if the parties interested would chearfully acquiesce in whatever determination it may receive. This I have and would still advise—and if it should be against you, I really think, it will be more for your honor and reputation to do it—than to leave the service. The Gentlemen who have had the affair before them, and those who have it now, must be equally indifferent about your claims, and whatever judgement is given upon the occasion should be considered, as the result of an impartial enquiry and founded in justice. I have been told that if the point of precedence is settled in General Woodford, that Genl Muhlenberg as well as Genl Scot, will submit to it without hesitation. I am Dr Sir Your most obedient Servt

Go: Washington

LS, in Tench Tilghman’s writing, MnHi: Allyn K. Ford Collection; Df, DLC:GW; Varick transcript, DLC:GW. GW signed the cover of the LS, which was addressed to Weedon at Fredericksburg, Virginia.

1Lt. Col. John Cropper of the 11th Virginia Regiment testified to the severity of this problem in a letter to his wife of 13 Mar., writing that he “apply’d to Genl. Woodford for a recommendation to his Excellency for permission to visit my friends, upon which he gave Me the most repeated assurances of his willingness to serve Me, but at the same time, declar’d that ’twas impossible for Me to be spar’d, as so many officers in the Virga. line had either resign’d, or teaz’d his Excellency so as to gain leave of absence, at the expence of their reputation; upon seeing the brigade found out the truth of G. Woodford’s assertions, for there were not but two field officers, and Myself commdr. of the brigade” (Boyle, Writings from the Valley Forge Encampment description begins Joseph Lee Boyle, ed. Writings from the Valley Forge Encampment of the Continental Army, December 19, 1777–June 19, 1778. 3 vols. Bowie, Md., 2000–2002. description ends , 1:80).

2For the general officers’ report, see A Board of General Officers to GW, 4 March. For discussion of the dispute about the relative ranks of Virginia brigadier generals William Woodford, Peter Muhlenberg, Charles Scott, and Weedon, see GW to Henry Laurens, 1 Jan. 1778, and note 8.

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