George Washington Papers

From George Washington to Samuel Huntington, 26 November 1780

To Samuel Huntington

Head Quarters Prackness Novembr 26th 1780


I have the honor to Acknowledge your Excellency’s Letters of the 16th and 17th inst.1 I am much obliged to you for the intelligence transmitted from Governor Jefferson.

It is not in my power, at this time, to furnish the return required of the Officers of the Engineering department—I wait the arrival of General Du Portail—after which it shall be immediately forwarded.2

I have not yet published, to the Army, the New Plan for the Inspectors department. The delay has given time to know the sentiments of the Officers concerned. They all think the extra provision inadequate to the extra trouble—if it is not increased, I beleive most of the best of them will leave the Office, and it will not be possible to find others, who have necessary qualifications, willing to replace them. As this institution has been found of singular utility, I am afraid to see it deranged. I therefore take the liberty to mention the matter to Congress, that they may consider the propriety of an augmentation of the allowance, before an experiment is made of the establishment.

The Inspector General being absent, a derangement, at this time, would be more particularly injurious, and it would be severely felt at the commencement of the next Campaign, when, we shall again have the greatest part of the Army recruits.3 When we consider, that to former extensive duties of the Inspectorship are now added those of the Mustering department, the officers of which have been, in consequence, abolished, it will appear consonant both with œconomy and equity to enlarge the compensation—Though not extravagant, it would be desireable to have it so liberal as to be a motive with good Officers to undertake and continue.

As the subinspector will have a principal part of the drudgery, the extra allowance to him requires most to be augmented, to become an equivalent. ’tis not necessary there should be any material difference between his and that of the Inspector—The Office of Adjutant General and Assistant Inspector General is peculiarly laborious.4

In the new Arrangement of the Army no notice has been taken of the Corps of Maréchaussee, as this corps is upon a particular constitution, I immagine it was not intended to comprehend it among the corps to be reduced—I shall be happy to be informed on this subject—Its continuance appears to me necessary for a variety of useful purposes—As the States are to be credited for the men in these distinct Corps the keeping it on foot will not add to the quota of any.5

The death of that useful and valuable Officer—Mr Erskine, Geographer to the Army, makes it requisite that a successor should be appointed. I beg leave to recommend Mr Simeon De Witt, an assistant of his—His being in the department gives him a pretention, and his abilities a still better. From the character Mr Erskine always gave of him and from what I have seen of his performances, he seems to be extremely well qualified.6 I have the honor to be With the greatest respect and Esteem Your Excellency’s Most Obedt humbe servt

Go: Washington

LS, in Caleb Gibbs’s writing, DNA:PCC, item 152; Df, DLC:GW; copy, DNA:PCC, item 169; Varick transcript, DLC:GW. The draft and Varick transcript are dated 25 November. Congress read this letter on 30 Nov. and referred it to a three-member committee that included New Hampshire delegate John Sullivan (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 , 18:1108; see also GW to Sullivan, 25 Nov., and Sullivan to GW, 9 Dec.).

GW’s requests prompted congressional responses (see Huntington to GW, 6 Dec.).

2Brigadier General Duportail, a recently exchanged prisoner, had been in the southern department (see GW to the Board of War, 31 Oct., n.2, and to Nathanael Greene, 8 Nov., n.11).

3GW refers to Major General Steuben, who had been transferred to the southern department (see GW to Greene, and to Steuben, both 22 Oct.; see also GW to Huntington, same date).

4For Steuben’s displeasure over the congressional plan for the inspector general’s department, see his letter to GW, 23 Oct., and n.5 to that document.

5The Maréchaussée Corps remained in existence (see General Orders, 1 and 10 Nov.).

6Simeon DeWitt received the congressional appointment to succeed Robert Erskine (see DeWitt to GW, 23 Nov., and n.5 to that document).

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