George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Lewis Ford Dunham, 20 December 1780

From Lewis Ford Dunham

Pompton [N.J.]
Decemr 20th 1780

May it please your Excellency—

As one of the Jersey Regts are about to be reduced of course it must make one Supernumery Surgeon.1

Barnet the Eldest Dunham the next & Elmer the 3rd Elmer wishes to Continue Barnet & Dunham agrees he should the contest between Barnet and Dunham which has the right of retireing Dunham claims it upon the principles of being the next youngest.2

If your multiplicity of more important matters will admitt of your leisure so far as to determine the dispute it shall be decissive on my part.

I cannot request a dismission from the Army without acquainting your Excelly Why—for which I would refer you to Doctor Cochran he knows my desire of rendering my Country service but my feminine Constitution will not admitt of it.3 I have the Honor to be your Excellys Most Obedient Humble servant

Lws Dunham surgeon 3rd Jersey Regt


Lewis Ford Dunham (1754–1821), son of Azariah Dunham, a prominent commissary officer in New Jersey, had apprenticed to the surgeon John Cochran before the start of the war. He served as surgeon in the 3d New Jersey Regiment from February 1776 until leaving the army in January 1781.

1The new establishment of the Continental army reduced the New Jersey line from three infantry regiments to two (see General Orders, 1 Nov.).

2William M. Barnet (Barnett; c.1750–1822) began as surgeon of the 1st New Jersey Regiment in December 1775 and apparently remained in the army until June 1782.

Ebenezer Elmer (1752–1843) served as ensign in the 3d New Jersey Regiment from February 1776 until his promotion to lieutenant that April. He then became surgeon’s mate in the 2d New Jersey Regiment that November before ascending to surgeon in June 1778. Elmer remained surgeon in the 2d New Jersey Regiment under the new establishment and stayed in the army until November 1783. For a journal he kept for a portion of his military service, see Sullivan Expedition Journals description begins Frederick Cook, ed., and George S. Conover, comp. Journals of the Military Expedition of Major General John Sullivan against the Six Nations of Indians in 1779 With Records of Centennial Celebrations. Auburn, N.Y., 1887. description ends , 80–85.

3GW replied to Dunham from headquarters at New Windsor on 29 Dec.: “I have recd your favr of the 20 th—If you and the other Surgeons of the line cannot accommodate the matter of retiring among yourselves, the mode pointed out by the Regulations must be adopted—that is—the youngest must go out, and the two others remain. But I think you and the other Gentleman who wishes to retire had best fall upon the method which several Officers in the line, under similar circumstances, have taken—decide the matter by Lot” (Df, in Tench Tilghman’s writing, DLC:GW, misfiled as Lewis F. Durham under 29 Nov. 1780; Varick transcript, DLC:GW).

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