George Washington Papers

From George Washington to Brigadier General Jedediah Huntington, 29 March 1780

To Brigadier General Jedediah Huntington

Head Quarters Morristown 29th March 1780

Dr Sir

I am pleased to hear by yours of yesterday of your arrival at Springfield.1 I have long wished and expected it. Governor Trumbull in his letter by you, requests that a number of commissioned and non commissioned officers may be immediately sent to Connecticut to assist in the business of recruiting: he mentions 50 or 60 if they can be spared.2 From my idea of the State of the several regiments in respect to officers present, that number would nearly include the whole upon the ground. That, none however, of the little time between this and the opening of the campaign may be lost, you will be pleased to inquire forthwith what further number of Captains and Subs., and good non-commissioned officers inlisted for the war, can be spared from the division, and let them be directed to proceed to the Governor and take his instructions. I imagine there are many officers yet in Connecticut upon furlough, who may perhaps request to remain there to recruit; but I think they had best be called in and others sent upon that service as they return, because if an officer goes to a part of the Country in which he is acquainted, to recruit, he has an opportunity in some degree of visiting his friends at the same time.

You are probably informed of the encouragements given by the late law to recruiting officers. I would wish you to acquaint those who encline to go upon that service that I am not authorised to allow any thing seperate from the provision made by the State as the requisition of Congress of the 9th of February makes none but leaves the mode to the States.3 I think it necessary that this matter should be clearly understood by the officers previous to their departure, lest they should afterwards complain, that they went out in obedience to orders and were unavoidably drawn into considerable expences in consequence.4 I am Dr Sir Your obt & hble ⟨servt⟩

Go: Washington

LS, in James McHenry’s writing, CtLHi; Df, DLC:GW; Varick transcript, DLC:GW. GW signed the cover of the LS, which is addressed to Huntington at Springfield, New Jersey.

1Huntington’s letter to GW of 28 March has not been found.

2See Jonathan Trumbull, Sr., to GW, 22 March. For related correspondence on Continental army recruiting in Connecticut, see Trumbull’s first letter to GW, 10 March, and GW to Trumbull, 25 March.

3The Connecticut legislature had adopted a resolution in January authorizing payments “to the several recruiting officers in this State … as may be necessary for the inlisting recruits” upon the presentation of proper documentation (Conn. Public Records description begins The Public Records of the State of Connecticut . . . with the Journal of the Council of Safety . . . and an Appendix. 18 vols. to date. Hartford, 1894–. description ends , 2:452–53). For the congressional legislation assigning troop quotas for each state, see 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 , 16:149–51; see also Samuel Huntington to GW, 10 Feb., and the notes to that document.

4Brigadier General Huntington acted to send recruiting officers and wrote GW from Springfield on 3 April: “There are some Officers appointed from this Division to repair to Connecticut agreeable to Governor Trumbulls Request & your Excellencys Directions—but it seems they are utterly unable to proceed for Want of Money; their Quarters & necessary Expences have got them considerably in Debt—if they could receive their Pay to this Time, it might enable them to clear off & set out, how they will get Home I don’t know” (ALS, DLC:GW).

GW replied to Huntington from Morristown on the same date: “I have recd yours of this date. If the paymasters to the Regiments to which the Officers going upon the recruiting service respectively belong will apply, I will grant them Warrants equivalent to the pay and subsistence of the Officers up to this time—One person, by bringing orders to receive the money for the rest, may execute the whole Business—As the Gentlemen go to Connecticut expressly upon the call of the State, I think it will be but reasonable in them to defray their necessary travelling expences, which in these times far out run the pay of an Officer of the highest Rank. … P.S. Be pleased to send Genl Phillips letter to Staten Island” (Df, in Tench Tilghman’s writing, DLC:GW; Varick transcript, DLC:GW). The letter mentioned in the postscript, presumably from British major general William Phillips, has not been identified, but it almost certainly involved matters related to the recent prisoner exchange negotiations (see both letters from the Commissioners for the Exchange of Prisoners to GW, 26 March [letter 1, letter 2]; see also James Robertson to Henry Clinton, 29 March, in Klein and Howard, Letter Book of Robertson description begins Milton M. Klein and Ronald W. Howard, eds. The Twilight of British Rule in Revolutionary America: The New York Letter Book of General James Robertson, 1780-1783. Cooperstown, N.Y., 1983. description ends , 84–88).

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