George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Officers among the Sappers and Miners, 19 December 1780

From Officers among the Sappers and Miners

[West Point, 19 Dec. 1780]. Capt. Lt. David Bushnell and four other officers write about “the many disagreeable circumstances that attend us and the many embarrasments under which we labour.” They do not receive “equal priviledges with the rest of the Officers in the Continental Army,” and their service “has hitherto been such as not to entitle us to any great share of Military respect.” They complain particularly of being commanded by “Officers of the Corps of Engineers … who hold Commissions of an inferior rank.” The complainants seek opportunities to distinguish themselves and not to be considered simply as “a Corps of Artificers or common fatiguemen.” For a remedy, they ask GW to have the sappers and miners “annexed to some of the established Regiments.” If no remedy could be found, the officers request GW’s “interposition in favour of a dissolution of the Corps or if this cannot be granted that we may be permitted to retire to civil life.”

LS, DLC:GW. GW’s aide-de-camp Tench Tilghman wrote an undated note on the docket of this letter: “Verbal answer given.”

For an earlier expression of grievances from officers among the sappers and miners, see William McMurray et al. to GW, 26 May. The corps of sappers and miners remained in existence.

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