George Washington Papers

From George Washington to Major General John Sullivan, 22 February 1779

To Major General John Sullivan

Head Quarters Middle Brook 22d February 1779

Dear Sir

I have your favr of the 11th instant; and am pleased to hear of the success of your armed Vessel against the Enemy’s Foragers.1 I fear from the Complexion of General Glover’s letter that he will be under the necessity of leaving the Service, he had thoughts of this some time ago and it was with difficulty that he was prevailed upon to continue.2

Inclosed you have a Copy of the arrangement of the two Rhode Island Battalions, but as none of the dates are affixed I must desire you to convene the Officers and have that matter settled.3 Should any dispute of Rank arise it must be determined by the Regulations of Congress published in the General Orders of the 24th Novemr last: Copy of which has been transmitted to your Deputy Adjt General.4 Should any promotion arise from Resignation or otherwise it must take place Regimentally as high as Captains and from thence upwards in the line of the State. When proper dates are affixed be pleased to return the list to me that I may transmit it to the Board of War and have the Commissions issued, after which there will be no admission of any claims whatever.5 The arrangement of Webbs, Sherburnes, Henley’s, Lees and Jacksons are not yet compleated but I expect will be soon. I am Dear Sir Your most obt Servt

Go: Washington

LS, in Tench Tilghman’s writing, NhHi: Sullivan Papers; Df, DLC:GW; Varick transcript, DLC:GW.

1Sullivan’s letter to GW of 11 Feb. has not been found, but he gives the following account of the incident involving the British foragers in his letter to Maj. Gen. Nathanael Greene of the same date: “we have nothing new here Save that a party of the enemy went Lately to Elizabeth Island for Plunder they first Landed at Buzzards Bay (on the march took 17 Cattle drove them to the water Side killd them on the Shore the militia came upon them & Beat them off without any part of their Booty they then went to Elizabeth Island took two vessels Loaded with flour & one Loaded with Tobacco. I had from Spies on the Island got Intelligence of their going off & immediately Drafted fifty Seamen from the Army well officered & put them on Board a twelve gun privateer which retook all the prizes with the men put on Board & would have taken the whole of the Enemy had not a Frigate come to their Assistance” (Hammond, Sullivan Papers description begins Otis G. Hammond, ed. Letters and Papers of Major-General John Sullivan, Continental Army. 3 vols. Concord, 1930-39. In Collections of the New Hampshire Historical Society, vols. 13–15. description ends , 2:509–10).

2GW is referring to Brig. Gen. John Glover’s letter to him of 28 Jan., which apparently had been enclosed in the unfound letter from Sullivan to GW of 11 February. For Glover’s earlier request to be allowed to retire from the army because of poor health and his acquiesce to GW’s plea to remain on active service, see Glover to GW, 27 Jan., 29 March, and 15 May 1778, and GW to Glover, 18 Feb. 1778.

3This enclosure has not been identified.

4Congress adopted regulations for the settlement of rank on 24 Nov. 1778; they were published in the general orders for 18 December. William Peck served as deputy adjutant general in Rhode Island from the spring of 1777 to the fall of 1781.

5On the draft manuscript, Tilghman wrote the word “time” immediately following the word “which.” GW sent the completed Rhode Island arrangement to the Board of War on 4 April (see GW to Peter Scull, that date). Scull returned the arrangement to GW on 15 April, apparently with the officers’ commissions (DLC:GW; see also William Ellery to GW, 14 Feb.; Scull to GW, 13 April, DLC:GW; GW to Ellery, 22 April, DLC:GW; and Rhode Island Delegates to William Greene, 1 June, in Smith, Letters of Delegates description begins Paul H. Smith et al., eds. Letters of Delegates to Congress, 1774–1789. 26 vols. Washington, D.C., 1976–2000. description ends , 13:8–10).

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