George Washington Papers

From George Washington to George Clinton, 8 February 1781

To George Clinton

⟨Head Quarters New Windsor Febry 8th 1781⟩

Dear Sir

I have been duly ⟨honored⟩ with Your Excellency’s favor of the ⟨31st of⟩ January. I have also conversed with ⟨your⟩ Brother, on the temper and dispo⟨sition of the⟩ Troops of New York, ⟨and from his represen⟩tation, am led to expect the discontents among them, which were so happily suppressed, will not revive again.

With respect to the mode your Excellency recommends for employing ⟨the In⟩valids of the New York line, I have ⟨the⟩ honor to observe—that altho, the form⟨ing⟩ these men into a Company under supernumerary Officers Might be attended with some good consequences, Yet I conceive (besides beng contrary to the spirit of the late Establishment of the Army, by which all Independent Corps are reduced) it would not, on every consideration, be an eligible Measure.1

If the Men are proper subjects ⟨for the Corps⟩ of Invalids, they are not ⟨to be⟩ discharged on any pretext whatever. ⟨If⟩ they are so entirely useless as to be discharged, and are reenlisted by any Recruiting Officer—by the pointed Orders on that subject, he will inevitably incur the loss of all the expence & bounty paid to such Recruits.2

I will only add, that from long experience, I have almost invariably found Independent Corps to be such an imposition upon, and moth3 to the Public, that I cannot consent to give any countenance to the revival of them. I have the honor to be With great esteem & respect Your Most Obed. Servt

Go: Washington

LS (partially burned), in David Humphreys’s writing, N-Ar: Clinton Papers; Df, DLC:GW; Varick transcript, DLC:GW. Burned portions of the LS are supplied in angle brackets from the draft, which Humphreys also penned.

1For the new establishment of the army, see General Orders, 1 Nov. 1780.

2For the instructions given to the recruiting officers, see General Orders, 5 Feb. 1781.

3A moth in this sense means: “Something that eats away, gnaws or wastes gradually and silently” (OED description begins James A. H. Murray et al., eds. The Oxford English Dictionary: Being a Corrected Re-Issue with an Introduction, Supplement, and Bibliography of A New English Dictionary on Historical Principles. 12 vols. 1933. Reprint. Oxford, England, 1970. description ends ).

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