George Washington Papers

From George Washington to Thomas Sim Lee, 2 September 1780

To Thomas Sim Lee

Hd qrs [Bergen County] 2 Septr 1780


I beg leave to inform Your Excellency that the Commission of Colo. price of your line, has been transmitted to me in a Letter dated at Frederick Town of the 31st of April last, informing of his determination to resign. The Letter was a most unreasonable time on its way and by some means was not signed, but from the subject of it—and the circumstance of it’s inclosing his Commission without doubt it came from him.1 Your Excellency if You think proper will communicate this resignation to the Board of War, with your Certificates directing the promotion of the Officer who is to succeed in consequence, and such other promotions as the event must involve. The Officers promoted will be entitled to rank from the 31st of April.2

I also beg leave to inform Your Excellency, that I have within a few days past received a Letter from Major John Stewart of the Maryland line dated at Baltimore the 12th Ulto—in which he mentions “that the command of the Additional Regiment raising by the State, has been given to a Mr Jones, who was a Young Captain in the third Regiment and who resigned last Winter and suggesting that he had left the Officers of the line in a state of great dissatisfaction—and that he anticipitated the most fatal consequences from the Appointment whenever they should be informd of it.”3 From the experience I have had in cases which were similar I cannot but add that I am much afraid the event will be attended with great uneasiness and indeed disagreable convulsions. The making this communication is a matter of delicacy with me, but I confidently rely that I shall stand justified to Your Excellency & the State & that You will indulgently believe that I do it, not from a wish to interfere in the most distant manner with the Arrangements or Appointments they may think proper to make upon any occasion, but from motives of a very different nature. These I hope will at once occur and therefore I shall only add that I have the honor to be, With perfect respect & esteem Yr Excellency’s Most Obedt servant


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

1See Thomas Price to GW, 1 May, found at General Orders, 29 March, n.1.

2The Maryland Council wrote the Board of War on 29 Sept. selecting Lt. Col. Benjamin Ford “as Lieut. Colo. Commandant of the 2d Regiment” (Md. Archives description begins Archives of Maryland. 72 vols. Baltimore, 1883–1972. description ends , 43:308).

3Maj. John Steward wrote GW from Baltimore on 12 Aug.: “I beg leave to inform your Excelly that I left the Southern Army at Deep River N. Carolina the 17th July in pursuance of Orders from Major Genl the Baron De Kalb; to collect, and prepare to march all Recruits, Deserters, and Levies, that might be raised or apprehended: and for sundry other purposes.

“On my Arrival at Annapolis, I found many obstacles to the execution of the several Duties I was sent upon. the Recruits and Deserters, first raised or apprehended, are orderd to be incorporated as the Additional Regiment, to be raised by this State; the Command of which is given to a Mr Jones, some time a young Captain in our Third: this Gentleman resignd last Winter, and has reaped a reward by quitting the Servise, which we who have remaind stedfast, cannot but think, would have been as properly bestowd, on Rank actually existing, or on some Man who had persevered through every vicisitude.

“An Opportunity of doing Servise to our Country in the more Exalted military Stations is now the only hope of reward left us—to rob us of that we cannot but think an ungratefull return for near five Years Toil and Danger.

“I Anticipate the most fatal consequences to the Maryland line from this Appointment of the State, I Am sorry to asure your Excelly that I left the Officers in a state of great dissatisfaction, which will certainly be aggrevated when the[y] find themselves not only neglected by the State to which they belong; but Superceded by Men who in the Day of Trouble, relinquish’d their share of Duty, or by others who waited for the smiling Hour of Success, to snatch from us the ripen’d Harvest of Reward.

“I hope the intervention of your Excellencies Advice may yet prevent the mischiefs I forebode, which I must beg leave to request, and doubt not to obtain, when your Excellency will be pleased to call to Mind the Chearfullness and Allacrity with which we have through every change pursued the Fortunes of Our Country. All we request is not to be driven from her Banners like things despised. I hope Sir you will pardon this presumption in me, when I asure you that it arises from an earnest desire to procecute the Duties of my profession with Honor and satisfaction to myself and good to my Country” (ALS, DLC:GW; see also GW to Johann Kalb, 27 June, found at GW to Daniel of St. Thomas Jenifer and Josiah Beall, same date, n.2).

GW replied to Steward from headquarters in Bergen County on 2 Sept.: “I was a few days ago favored with yours of the 12th ulto from Baltimore. I am extremely sorry that an event should have taken place, which will in your opinion be likely to disturb the tranquility of your line—You must be sensible that it is a matter of great delicacy with me to interfere in the least degree with the arrangements of any of the States, when they do not clash with the established rules of promotion in the Army—I have however taken the liberty, upon the present occasion, of mentioning this affair to Governor Lee—and have suggested to him my apprehensions that very disagreeable consequences will probably result from the promotion in question.

“When you return again to the southward be pleased to make my Compliments to the Gentlemen of the line and assure them that as I feel myself interested in every thing which concerns them, I wish them that honor and success which their merit deserves” (Df, in Tench Tilghman’s writing, DLC:GW; Varick transcript, DLC:GW).

Samuel Jones served as a Maryland militia lieutenant in 1776. He became a lieutenant in the 3rd Maryland Regiment in December, rose to captain in August 1777, and resigned in February 1780. He became the Additional Maryland Battalion’s lieutenant colonel commandant that July, but on 1 Sept. the Maryland Council commissioned Alexander Lawson Smith “in the room of Saml Jones resigned” (Md. Archives description begins Archives of Maryland. 72 vols. Baltimore, 1883–1972. description ends , 43:272).

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