George Washington Papers

From George Washington to Oliver Clarke, 29 July 1779

To Oliver Clarke

Head Quarters West Point July 29th 1779


I have received your favour of the 29th of June1 which a multiplicity of business has prevented my answering before.

There can be no doubt that you are entitled to the year’s pay allowed to supernumerary officers—This is expressly provided for by a resolve of Congress of the 22d day of May 1779;2 agreeable to which I have requested General Gates to order you payment on application3— I am only sorry that a Gentleman who has your laudable disposition to persevere in the service to the end of the war, should have been unfortunately excluded, and that it is not in my power to make any other provision for you. When an officer is once arranged out of a Regiment, the remaining officers will not see him reintroduced without dissatisfaction; and no other method of providing for you occurs to me as practicable. I am Sir Your most Obedt humble servant

Go: W——n

Df, in Alexander Hamilton’s writing, DLC:GW; Varick transcript, DLC:GW.

Oliver Clarke (b. 1743) joined the 1st Rhode Island Regiment in May 1775 as a lieutenant and transferred to the 9th Continental Infantry Regiment as a captain in January 1776. He became a captain in the new 1st Rhode Island Regiment in February 1777 and was taken prisoner at Fort Mercer, N.J., on 22 Oct. (see Clarke to William Howe, 27 and 29 Oct. 1777, in Pennsylvania Evening Post [Philadelphia], 30 Oct. 1777). A subsequent arrangement of the Rhode Island regiments included an “N.B.” that Clarke would “be restored to his rank if released on the first vacancy” (“Arrangement of the Rhode Island Battalions,” Publications of the Rhode Island Historical Society, 2 [January 1895]: 216–17). A change in this determination after Clarke’s exchange apparently prompted his appeal to GW.

1This letter has not been found.

2See 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 14:630.

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