George Washington Papers

From George Washington to Lieutenant Colonel Samuel Smith, 29 May 1779

To Lieutenant Colonel Samuel Smith

Head Quarters Middlebrook 29th May 1779.

Dr Sir

I can only lament that necessity which has produced your letter of the 10th, and obliges you to offer your resignation, at the opening of a campaign; at a crisis in which good officers might render the most essential services, by their example and continuance in the army.1

The proofs you have heretofore given, of your abilities, as a good and brave officer, I am happy in acknowleging; and could wish that the circumstances of your affairs were such, as to afford you the opportunity of closing the war with your military companions.

If you will transmit your commission, which you are desirous of retaining, I shall indorse upon it my concurrence in your resignation, and have it returned.

It is customary on officers leaving the service to bring in a certificate of having settled their public accounts—You will be pleased to have such a one forwarded with the commission, or as soon as possible.2 With great regard, I am Dr sir, your obedient and hble servt

Go: Washington

LS, in James McHenry’s writing, MdHi: Samuel Smith Papers; Df, DLC:GW; Varick transcript, DLC:GW.

1Smith had written to GW from Baltimore on 10 May: “Impress’d with a due sense of the Duty I owe my Country, it gives me the greatest uneasiness, that my Circumstances will not permit me to serve it longer; when I first enterd its service I thought my fortune sufficient to support me; I was mistaken. I have now scarce one half remaining & that so depreciated it would not support me one Campaign—Our state, I flatter myself should have done something towards enabling their Officers to remain in the service, they have done the contrary, they have rescinded ⟨the⟩ Resolve which was made for that purpose & given as a Reason for it, their not being able to bear the Expence. This shuts the Door effectually against ever a Hope of any such provision. I still hop’d I might on Examination be enabled by my own fortune to serve another Campaign. I find I am not, this is my Reason for so late a Resignation. I hope it will meet with your Excellency’s approbation & that I may still hold a place in your Esteem, It would be adding ⟨so much⟩ to my present Unhappiness at being oblig’d to leave the service should I also meet with your Disapprobation or Displeasure. I esteem myself under the greatest obligation to your Excelly for repeated favors I have had the Honor to receive from you & shall never forget how much I am indebted for them.

“I Beg your Excellys permission to keep my Commission not that I can expect any Rank from it, but that I wish to retain a Mark of so honorable an appointment” (DNA: RG 93, manuscript file no. 1579).

Smith wrote to GW again from Baltimore on 22 May: “I expected, to have sent my Resignation by Doctr skinner. he pass’d through this place without calling on me & it remain’d in my Hands untill the fleet came into this Bay. I then thought it my Duty to remain in the s⟨tate⟩ however it might injure me, & have arm’d the Recruits, the Militia are call’d in—my services are ask’d & I shall do everything in my power in Case of an Invasion, on this state, Having fully deter⟨mined⟩ resigning, I engag’d myself so deeply in Business that it would be impossible for me to extricate myself in less t⟨han⟩ a Month or six weeks. I cannot with propriety do Business & hold my Commission at the same time, I therefore send my Resignation & untill I have your Excellys answer shall keep the Command of the Recruits in Case of an Invasion here” (DNA: RG 93, manuscript file no. 1579).

2Smith replied on 2 July (MdHi: Samuel Smith Papers; see also GW to Smith, 30 July, DLC:GW).

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