George Washington Papers

From George Washington to Brigadier General Anthony Wayne, 27 January 1781

To Brigadier General Anthony Wayne

Ringwood [N.J.] Jany 27. 81

D. Sir,

I have just received your letter of the 21st—The affair of your line has been singularly mortifying and disagreeable in all its progress. Its influence threatens the whole army.1 You will have heard of the revolt of part of the Jersey line. Last night we marched a body of troops to their huts to compel an unconditional submission and make examples of some of the leader⟨s—⟩The execution of this measure ⟨bro⟩ught ⟨me⟩ here.2

I cannot now enter into the several subjects of your letter, but shall only give you my opinion concerning the Capt. Lieutenants. Congress I am persuaded did not intend to exclude or degrade any particular rank of officers—Previous to the late arrangement the Capt. Lieutenants commanded all the subalterns—I think it but just they should be continued with the same superiority in the present establishment—that is with the rank of senior Lieutenants where there are no vacancies of captaincies.3 The objection to this drawn from many younger lieutenants having been made Capt. Lieutenants, if valid, would in its consequences unmake many Captains who were in the same situation.

In other lines of the army the Captain4 Lieutenants are continued in the manner I mention—that is as Lieutenants with a precedency to all the other Lieutenants. I am with great regard D. Sir Yr most Obedient servt

Go: Washington

LS, in Alexander Hamilton’s writing, PHi: Wayne Papers; Df, DLC:GW; Varick transcript, DLC:GW. Mutilated portions of the LS are supplied in angle brackets from the draft, also in Hamilton’s writing. GW signed the cover of the LS, which was addressed to Wayne at Trenton.

1See Wayne to GW, 21 Jan.; see also Wayne to GW, 2 Jan., and the source note to that document.

3The new organization of the army had no provision for the rank of captain lieutenant in the infantry regiments; every infantry company had one captain and two subalterns, usually a lieutenant and an ensign (see General Orders, 1 Nov. 1780). In the previous organization of the army, that of 27 May 1778, the companies of the three field officers in an infantry regiment had no captains, and the lieutenant of the colonel’s company held the rank of captain lieutenant (see 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 , 11:538–39).

4Hamilton inadvertently wrote “Captan.”

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