George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Lieutenant Colonel Gouvion, 30 January 1781

From Lieutenant Colonel Gouvion

west point January 30th 178[1]


I have here ten men drafted from the pensilvania Line, into the Corps of Sappers, as they Are informed that General Wayne is now Settling the accounts of every Soldier of that line, and discharging those who have Just claims against the validity of their inlistement,1 they apply’d themselves to me yesterday to have two of them Sent to lay before the General the claim of every one, but I would not comply with their request without your Excellency’s approbation for that purpose. the Captain of the company they all belong to, proposed himself to me to go with these two men.

every one of them pretends to have been inlisted for three years only, but I will have the honour of representing to your Excellency, that they were drafted into the corps of Sappers as inlisted for during the war, they have been mustered So Since they are with me, and they never had the least objection against it, but Since they Know of Several men of their line being discharged.2 I am with the greatest Respect your Excellency’s the most obedient Servant


ALS, MH: Jared Sparks Collection. Gouvion mistakenly wrote the year as 1780; the ALS is docketed 1781.

2GW replied to Gouvion on this date: “Your favor of this day has just come to hand.

“I cannot consent that any of the Drafts from the Pennsylvania Line, with your Corps, should have permission to go to Trenton. All their Accounts may be settled as well in their absence as tho they were present, by having their Names, Companies, Claims &c. sent on. As to the Matter of discharge, it can be determined only by their Inlistments, the Captain to whom they belong may forward for them whatever Papers or Documents are necessary to throw light on the subject” (Df, in David Humphreys’s writing, DLC:GW; copy, PHi: Wayne Papers; Varick transcript, DLC:GW).

Capt. William McMurray wrote Brig. Gen. Anthony Wayne on 4 Feb.: “In consequence of a dissatisfied disposition in the men draughted from the Pennsylvania Line into the Corps of Sappers the whole of whom are in my Company Coll Gouvion who commands the Corps wrote to his Excellency. … In consequence of [GW’s] letter Colonel Gouvion ordered me to transmit to you the enclosed list in order to know whether they are or are not to be discharged. … I could wish how soon it would be convenient to let them know their destiny for if they are kept long in suspence its not at all improbable that the spirit of Desertion may take place amongst them” (PHi: Wayne Papers).

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