George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Captain Titus Watson, 13 February 1779

From Captain Titus Watson

Camp at Redding [Conn.]
Febr. 13th 1779

May it Please Your Exelency

When the Committe set at White planes For settleing the reletive rank of the Captains in the Continent line: Capt. Cleft was ranked before Capt. Troop and my Self when the matter was made Publick Capt. Troop was Dissatisfyed and applyed for A rehearing, which he Obtaind. I myself was Absent at that time on a Genll Cortmartial and Could not be present when the Committee set Capt. Troop was present and his appointment and mine ware the same day and both Commissioned Capt. the Same Day: I Supposed if the Committee Juged that Capt. Troop ought to have Rank of Capt. Cleft they would also arange me before him, as I was not Present the Committee Said nothing about me but gave rank to Capt. Troop, as it appeared on the Second hearing that Capt. Cleft had given in an antedated Commissioned.1

Genll Putnum has lately appointed Capt. Cleft A Major I waited on him and informed him of the circumstances and Desired A Cort of inquiry to Examin our pretencies: the Genll tells me it is to late to have the matter Examined as Cleft is appointed A Major: I felt myself inpained and am without remedy—Unless your Exelency would be pleased to appoint or order that a cort of inquiry be Apointed to exammin in to our pretentions anticedent to his being said to be A Major which is all I Desire on the subject.2 I am with Every Sentiment of Esteem and Respect your Exelencies most Obedient and Humble Servant.

AL, DLC:GW. The manuscript is docketed in part: “ansd 21” (see n.2).

Titus Watson (1746–1821) of Norfolk, Conn., who had served as a sergeant in the Lexington alarm in April 1775, had been appointed a second lieutenant in the 4th Connecticut Regiment on 1 May 1775 and a captain in Col. Charles Burrall’s Connecticut regiment on 19 Jan. 1776. Watson had transferred to the 7th Connecticut Regiment on 1 Jan. 1777. He resigned his commission on 12 Jan. 1780.

1Benjamin Throop had been promoted to major of the 4th Connecticut Regiment sometime during the fall of 1778 with a commission that apparently was backdated to 1 May 1778 (see Army Officers to Congress, 13 Sept. 1778, DNA:PCC, item 41, where Throop signs himself as a captain). Both Throop and Watson had been commissioned captains in Colonel Burrall’s regiment on 19 Jan. 1776. The only difference in their Continental service records is that on 1 May 1775, when Watson had become a second lieutenant in the 4th Connecticut Regiment, Throop had been appointed a first lieutenant in the 6th Connecticut Regiment.

2GW’s aide-de-camp Tench Tilghman replied to Watson on 21 Feb.: “Yours of the 13th instant came to His Excellency’s hands. He desires me to inform you that the Connecticut Arrangement will be sent to Reading in a few days for a final inspection. You will therefore state your Claims to the Board of Officers who shall be appointed to take it into consideration” (DLC:GW).

Watson’s dispute with Maj. Wills Clift was referred in March to a board composed of colonels Moses Hazen, Josiah Starr, and Giles Russell, who concluded that Watson had precedence in rank over Clift (see Starr and Russell’s certificate, 20 June 1779, DLC:GW). Maj. Gen. Israel Putnam, however, failed to forward that board’s report to GW, and on 26 June, Watson again wrote GW appealing his case (DLC:GW). In September 1779 GW ordered that a second board of field officers be appointed to consider the dispute, and it ruled in favor of Clift over Watson (see GW to William Heath, 6 and 8 Sept., both MHi: Heath Papers, and General Orders, 10 Sept. and 9 Oct.).

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