George Washington Papers

From George Washington to Lieutenant Vachel Burgess, 16 August 1779

To Lieutenant Vachel Burgess

Head Qrs [West Point] August 16: 1779


I received Your Letter of this date1 and am ⟨exceedingly⟩ sorry to find, that no arrangement that can be made whatever pains may be taken to effect it, can give general satisfaction. I wish you to consider the nature of your application—An Officer should not leave the service at least ⟨not⟩ at this time without the most powerful and cogent reasons. I do not know the Gentleman of whose promotion you complain, but conceive it a hard case that a pay Master, altho he should have served never so long—and with rank and reputation—(for rank they have had ever since 1776) can not be introduced into the line of the State, when there is an establishment for the purpose, without producing disgust. If it is your determination to resign2 you must send your Commission to Head Quarters with the certificates usual upon all such occasions, from the Commanding Officer of the Regiment & paymaster—when your resignation will be indorsed and the Commission returned.3 I am Sir, Yr Most Obedt & Most Hble sert


Df, in Robert Hanson Harrison’s writing, DLC:GW; Varick transcript, DLC:GW.

Vachel Burgess (1756–1824), of Anne Arundel County, Md., served as a corporal in the Maryland militia in 1776 before joining the 1st Maryland Regiment, also as a corporal, when that unit formed during the winter of 1776–77. Burgess became an ensign in the regiment the following April and was promoted to lieutenant in February 1778.

On 22 Aug. 1779, Burgess answered GW from Sandy Beach, N.Y.: “Being fully determined to quit a service, in which I’ve been repeatedly Ingured, I’ve enclosed you my Commission (with the certificates necessary on such occasions,) Shall esteem it a favour if your excellency will have my resignation indorsed, and returnd” (DNA: RG 93, Manuscript file no. 1565). The enclosures have not been identified.

1This letter has not been found.

2At this point, Harrison wrote “the General requests.” He then struck out the last two words, but he apparently meant to strike all three words.

3At this point on the draft, Harrison wrote and then crossed out the following text: “At the same time he wishes you to decline your application.”

4Harrison struck out his own signature and replaced it with GW’s initials.

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