George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Pennsylvania Field Officers, 20 August 1780

From Pennsylvania Field Officers

Camp Orange Town August 20th 1780


When we the other Day had the Honor of a Conference with your Excellency, we were not a little mortified we so widely differed with you in Opinion with respect to the Manner in which Major Macpherson was introduced into his present Command.

We have maturely and candidly considered that Article of War which treats of Brevetts, and find it (in our opinion) no ways applicable to the present Case—And however your Excellency may refer to the Customs of War in other Armies, We cannot think (considering the Constitution and Circumstances of ours) they ever will or ought to justify an Establishment, which in its Consequences must prove injurious to the Feelings of every Officer fighting in the Cause we at present are.1

We are far from wishing to strike at any Authority absolutely necessary for the good Order and Subordination of all Armies, nevertheless we think it a Duty we owe to our Country, to enter our most Solemn Protest against establishing a precadent, which if followed must in it’s Consequences one Day or other prove fatal. And as we cannot see it in that Light of Propriety that your Excellency does, it would be Departing from the Line of Candor, and torturing our own Feelings to say we were Satisfied.

Impressed fully with this Idea, we on our Sacred Honor assure you nothing but a Sincere and inviolable Attachment to your Excellency, and a Regard for our distressed Country, has induced us to relinquish our Intentions of resigning for the present, nor could even these Considerations alone have induced us, only that we still possess the most Sanguine Hopes your Excellencies Candor and Justice will prompt you to remove the present Difficulty as early as possible, and prevent a Similar Inconvenience in future. We have the Honor to be Your Excellencies Most humble & obedt Servts

Fras Johnston Colonel 5th P. Regt
Jas Chambers Col. 1 P. Regt
Richd Humpton Colonel 10th Pen. Regt
Richd Butler Col. 9th P. Regt
T: Craig Colonel 3d P. Regt2


1For the article of war on brevet commissions and for GW’s arguments in favor of the appointment of Maj. William Macpherson to a command of Pennsylvania troops in the light infantry, see GW to Anthony Wayne and William Irvine, 11 Aug., and n.2 to that document.

2In addition to these five colonels, the LS is signed by eight lieutenant colonels and ten majors.

Index Entries