George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Richard Peters, 20 January 1779

From Richard Peters

War Office [Philadelphia] Jany 20th 1779


I have the Honour of enclosing to your Excellency Copies of General St Clair’s Claim of Rank & of General Arnolds Letter in Consequence.1 Copies have also been interchangeably sent to the Parties. They are sent to your Excellency agreeably to the Usage in such Cases that you may take such Measures in the Matter as you shall deem expedient. I have the Honour to be with the greatest Respect your very obed. Servt

Richard Peters
In Behalf & By Order of the Board


1The enclosed copies of Maj. Gen. Arthur St. Clair’s memorial to the Board of War of 19 Jan. and Maj. Gen. Benedict Arnold’s letter to Richard Peters of the same date are in DLC:GW. Both officers were in Philadelphia at this time. St. Clair complained in his memorial about Congress’s resolution of 29 Nov. 1778 that had empowered GW to replace Arnold’s original 2 May 1778 commission as major general with one backdated to 17 Feb. 1777, two days before St. Clair’s appointment to that rank, thereby giving Arnold seniority over St. Clair and four other major generals whose rank was dated 19 Feb. 1777 (see Henry Laurens to GW, 30 Nov. 1777, and n.8; see also 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 , 7:133, 323; 9:981). Arnold defended his date of rank in his letter to Peters, saying: “I conceive that no Board has a Right to deprive me of my Rank—I cannot therefore consent to submit the matter to any Body of Men, except Congress who, as they have a right to appoint, have doubtless a right to dismiss any Officer of the Army—But tho that Honorable Body have the power, I do not conceive they have the Right to deprive any Officer of his Rank.” GW is not known to have taken any further action on this matter.

Index Entries