George Washington Papers

From George Washington to Peter Scull, 19 March 1778

To Peter Scull

Head Quarters Valley Forge 19th March 1778


It having been judged expedient to appoint an1 inspector General with a proper number of Sub inspectors for the purpose of introducing a regular System of Discipline and Maneuvres into the Army; The Baron Steuben an Officer of great experience is pitched upon to execute that important Business,2 and as he is intirely unacquainted with the merits of the Gentlemen of the Army, he has desired me to fix upon such for his assistants as I shall judge properly qualifyed. As you are among the Number of those, who are, in my opinion, suitable to undertake this Business if it should be agreeable to you, I should be glad to see you at Camp as soon as possible, when you will be more fully informed of the nature and duties of the Office. I shall only add that you will retain your Rank in the line. If you do not incline to accept, I shall be glad to be informed of it,3 that I may look round for some person in your stead. Yrs &c.

G. W——n

Df, in Tench Tilghman’s writing, DLC:GW; Varick transcript, DLC:GW. Another letter to Scull, dated 20 Mar., was presumably drafted by Tilghman for the same purpose. It reads: “As I want to see you upon very particular Business, I shall be glad of your attendance at Camp as soon as possible. If your health or any other matter prevents you be pleased to inform me” (Df DLC:GW).

1Tilghman wrote “and” on the manuscript.

2Although Steuben’s appointment as inspector general was not officially announced until the general orders of 28 Mar., he apparently commenced his duties sooner. On 25 Mar., Col. Henry Beekman Livingston wrote to Robert R. Livingston, “We have a Prussian Lieutenant-General (arrived in Camp) and Knight of the Black Eagle &c . . . he is taken great notice of and is appointed Inspector General of the Army he is now Teaching the Most Simple Parts of the Exercise such as Positition and Marching of a Soldier in a Manner Quite different from that, they have been heretofore used to, In my oppinion more agreable to the Dictates of Reason & Common Sence than any Mode I have before seen . . . we are first Taught to March without Musick but the Time of March is given us Slow Time is a Medium between what was in our service Slow and Quick Time Quick Time about as Quick as a Common Country Dance” (NHi: Robert R. Livingston Papers). For another description of the new system, from Ens. George Ewing’s journal for 7 April, see Ewing, George Ewing description begins Thomas Ewing. George Ewing, Gentleman, a Soldier of Valley Forge. Yonkers, N.Y., 1928. description ends , 34.

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