George Washington Papers

From George Washington to Brigadier Generals John Glover and John Paterson, 14 October 1780

To Brigadier Generals
John Glover and John Paterson

Head qrs [near Preakness] October 14th 1780


It has been suggested in several applications I have received of late, that by some means or other many Errors took place in the arrangement of Your line by the Board of General Officers who sat at West point in July & August 1779—in the line of Captains & in the instance of the Inferior Officers, principally in numbering some of the Captains wrong in the order of their precedence in the line, and in misplacing the Subalterns in their Regimental arrangements, and also in some instances in fixing wrong dates from which they were to rank. Circumstances seem now to permit an inquiry to take place with respect to these matters. I therefore transmit a Copy of the Arrangement of the Captains as it was then made—and also of the Regimental arrangement of the Subalterns,1 and request that You will as soon as possible examine into the matter and report under your hands—the order as to precedence in which the Captains should then have been arranged—and also the order in which the Subalterns should have been then regimentally placed, with such alterations in the periods from which they should have ranked—if any errors should be found to have taken place in that respect, as shall appear clear & just to the Board. I request their most accurate attention in this business. They will proceed in the matter as if the Original arrangement by the Board of Genl Officers took place just now—and every One named in it, were still in the Army & acting under the rank & precedence given them. This will prevent an infinity of trouble & an alteration of but few Commissions or Numbers.2 The Board will return All the papers I inclose them—as well as the Order in which they shall find the Captains & Subaltern’s should have been arranged.

While I am on this subject—I must mention an Error which Sundry Officers have complained of & remonstrated against as having taken place in the line in some instances—& to which I request the Board’s particular attention in order to rectify it. If it has actually taken place, it operates an injury to many Officers in the State line, as well as to Many Others in the line of the Army at large. Memorials which have been proferred suggest, that Several persons who were Serjeants & who have been appointed by the Board of General Officers, to Ensigncies & Lieutenancies—instead of their having rank from the time they were actually appointed—have by some mistake or other been so recommended, as to obtain Warrants or Certificates or Commissions in consequence, giving them rank from the time the vacancies happened, as if they had a right to fill them on a principle of succession. The Arrangement made by the Board of General Officers will lead to an easy correction of this error, as no Officer, not mentioned in it, can have rank from a date prior to it & in case of New appointments, but from the time the appointments were actually made. I have the Honor to be With great respect & esteem Gentn Yr Most Obedt st.

Df, in Robert Hanson Harrison’s writing, DLC:GW; Varick transcript, DLC:GW. The draft is addressed to “the Officers Commanding Regiments in the Massachusetts line in Camp,” in addition to Glover and Paterson.

GW again wrote Glover and Paterson from headquarters at Preakness on 16 Oct.: “As the Honble the Assembly of your State and the Committee of Congress in consequence of their proceedings, which You will have seen published in General Orders, have annexed Colo. Henry Jackso⟨n’s⟩ Regiment to the Massachusetts line—it is necessary that the precedence of the Captains of this Regiment, should have their stations fixed in the line of Captains belonging to the State. I forgot to mention this circumstance in my Letter to the Board on the 14 Instant, which they will now be pleased to make a subject of their attention & report the Nos. these Officers Commissions should bear in the line—and the alterations in the Nos. which this may occasion. Colo. Jackson will lay before the Board a List of the dates of their appointments and the periods from which they are to rank, according to the Arrangement which has been long since transmitted to the Board of War for Commissions” (Df, in Robert Hanson Harrison’s writing, DLC:GW; Varick transcript, DLC:GW; see also General Orders, 24 July).

1The enclosed arrangements have not been identified; see also GW to the Board of War, 12 October.

2On the draft, Harrison wrote “except such as are actually found to have been wrong” and then struck out this extension of the sentence.

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