George Washington Papers

To George Washington from La Luzerne, 14 December 1780

From La Luzerne

Philada 14th Decembr 1780


Colonel Fleury and the Chevr Duplessis who have had the honor to serve under the orders of your Excellency, are desirirous of being admitted to the Advantages which the Congress have allowed to those Officers, who not having an active employ in the Army by the new arrangement, are intitled to receive, after the peace, the Half pay, as well as those who are in immediate service.1 I have spoken about it to some Members of Congress, who have assured me, that those Gentlemen actually serving at this time in an Army employed in the common cause, may expect the same favors as those Officers who retire, if your Excellency pleases to prolong their Furlough, by a particular permission. Knowing, besides, that they have been so happy as to merit, by their conduct, your good opinion—I venture to interest myself in their behalf upon the present occasion, being well persuaded that they would exert themselves to the utmost to merit a continuation.2 You know the sentiments of Attachment with which I have the honor to be &.

Le Chevr de la Luzerne

Translation, in Tench Tilghman’s writing, DLC:GW; LS, in French, DLC:GW.

1Major General Lafayette sent the same appeal (see his letter to GW dated 13 Dec.). For congressional reform of the Continental army and the half-pay measure for officers upon retirement, see Samuel Huntington to GW, 26 Oct., n.1, and General Orders, 1 Nov., and n.8.

2GW replied to La Luzerne from New Windsor on 20 Dec.: “I had the honor to receive your Excellency’s favor of the 14th by the Chevr du Plessis. It is not in my power to determine whether it was the intent of Congress to extend the allowance of half pay for life to those Gentn who hold Brevet Commissions in the American Army and at the sametime retain their ranks and are actually employed in that of their own Country.

“Should it however be the sense of Congress—that Foreign Officers who come under the above description, are entitled to half ⟨pay at the expiration of the War,⟩ I shall take a particular pleasure in securing that allowan⟨ce⟩ to Colonels Fleury and du Pless⟨is⟩ not only on account of their singular merit, but becaus⟨e⟩ your Excellency has been ple⟨a⟩sed to interest yourself in their behalf” (ALS, FrPMAE; Df, DLC:GW; Varick transcript, DLC:GW; obscured material on the ALS is supplied in angle brackets from the draft, which is in the writing of GW’s aide-de-camp Tench Tilghman). For the visit of Senior Adjutant Mauduit du Plessis to GW, see GW to George Clinton, 19 Dec., found at GW’s second letter to James Clinton, same date, source note.

A congressional committee reported on 3 Oct. 1783 that Lieutenant Colonel Fleury should receive “the half pay or commutation and other emoluments allowed to officers continuing in the service to the end of the war, or deranged by Congress subsequent to the half pay establishment” (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 , 25:644).

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