To Colonel Lambert Cadwalader
H. Qers [White Plains] 4 Sepr 1778
I am pressed by a number of causes to beg your determination on a point which is likely to give rise to much disquietude in the Pennsylvania line. The officers consider the retention of your commission as an obstacle to their rise, while it is urged that you are not viewed by the enemy as a prisoner of war.1
It appears to me that the workings of a delicate sentiment should never be discouraged, tho we do not find men much inclined to favor its operation against their own rank. But this is not the principal consideration your liberty is supposed to be the price of General Prescots obligation to your Father which it is thought implied no inactivity whatsoever on your part.2 The circumstances of the transaction which came to my knowledge I must confess led me to think in the same manner—And The inclosed letter will also explain the judgement of the comissioners of arrangement on this subject.3 I wish to have your decision as soon as possible; and should it be to return to the army I shall consider it a fortunate circumstance to the service.4 I am Sir with much esteem your most Obt &.
Df, in James McHenry’s writing, DLC:GW; Varick transcript, DLC:GW.
1. Cadwalader had been captured on 16 Nov. 1776 and almost immediately released, but he had not been formally exchanged. Meanwhile, in December 1776 he had been appointed colonel of the 4th Pennsylvania Regiment.
2. On 30 Jan. 1776 Congress requested that Dr. Thomas Cadwalader (1708–1779) of Philadelphia, Lambert Cadwalader’s father, examine British brigadier general Richard Prescott, then a prisoner of war. Dr. Cadwalader’s reports led to Prescott’s removal from the jail to “proper lodging,” and later Prescott, who had been exchanged, was instrumental in securing Lambert Cadwalader’s release from captivity ( 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 , 4:101, 112).
4. The draft originally continued, “However if you are prevented by any delicacy of thinking I know it cannot be easily changed—But should it arise from an opinion that you are regarded by the enemy as their prisoner, I need not inform you that the proper steps to bring the matter to a certainty will be to desire an explanation from General Clinton or those who were immediately concerned in the transaction,” but after slightly revising that text, McHenry crossed it out.