George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Major Joseph Pettingill, 12 June 1779

From Major Joseph Pettingill

West-point June 12th 1779

May it Please Your Excellency

That whereas I was absent at the Time the Board of Officers Assembled which were appointed for the Settlement of the rank of the Field officers and eldest Captains of the Massachusetts Line1 My p⟨r⟩etensions were not properly Exhibited, by which means I am informed I stand arrainged the ninth Captain in said State and as there are some difficulty arrises in Consequence of the Majority of Colo. Wesson’s Regiment, being conferred upon me,2 I begg the liberty to lay before your Excellency my pretensions—which is a Captaincy from the Commencement of the present War—in the month of September 1777: the Majority of said regiment become vacant, from which time I have done duty as Major—Colo. Wesson made application to the Honble Council of the Massachusetts State soon after the Vacancy happened, and had a promise that I should be Commissioned—being in my duty in the Field I could not seek for what I esteem to be my right, but chearfully continued in my duty with full assurance that no difficulty would attend my Promotion than it hath severall other Gentlemen whose pretensions are no ways superior to mine Merit excepted, ever concluding that the date of the Vacancy would be Considered at which time I presume no one would have disputed my right to it—Last winter I was presented with a Majors Commission Dated 25th November 1777: at which time it appears I was appointed Major of Colo. Wesson’s Regiment by the Honble Council of the Massachusetts State—Being Confident your Excellency will see equal Justice done to one as well as to another of equal merit—I now wait on your Excellency desiring your direction in what Charracter I am to consider myself, and shall with Cheerfullness and pleasure conduct myself accordingly. I have the honor to be Your Excellency Most Obedient and very Humble Servent

Joseph Pettingill

N.B. I Consulted the Muster Master yestoday in what manner he should Muster me, he wished to have a Line from his Excellency directing him Respecting the matter—as I can not muster as Captain and Certify the Roll to be Right and Just—your Excellency’s Compliance with the above will greatly Oblige Your Humble Servent

J. Pettingill

ALS, DNA: RG 93, manuscript file no. 2093. The docket of this letter in the writing of GW’s secretary Robert Hanson Harrison reads: “promotion determ[ine]d irregular by Board of Officers.”

Peter Scull, secretary to the Board of War, enclosed Pettingill’s letter with one of his own to GW, dated 21 June: “I have the honour to inclose your Excellency a letter just receiv’d from a Mr Pettingill of one of the Massachusetts regiments relative to his rank in that line” (ALS, DNA: RG 93, manuscript file no. 2092).

2For the protest of the Massachusetts officers regarding Pettingill’s promotion, see Officers of the Massachusetts Line to GW, 13 June. For the completion of a final arrangement for the Massachusetts Line, which denied Pettingill’s claim and dated his commission as major 26 July 1779, see General Orders, 23 July and 2 Aug.; GW to William Heath and a Board of General Officers, 3 Aug. (MHi: Heath Papers); and GW to John Jay, 5 Aug. (first letter; DNA:PCC, item 152).

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