George Washington Papers

From George Washington to Major General William Heath, 9 February 1781

To Major General William Heath

Head Quarters New Windsor Feby 9th 1781

Dear Sir

Under the particular circumstances mentioned in your Letter of the 7th Inst., I shall not hesitate to grant a discharge to Capt. Smart, upon the conditions therein proposed1—Altho I would not have it by any Means, considered as a precedent to deviate from the fixed rule of discharges.

The answer given to Sergt Larvey’s Petition in Novr last, was, that a transferrence could not be made from One Corps to another, without the consent of the Commanding Officer of each; in which case under certain circumstances it might be done; No encouragement of a discharge was hinted—In his Petition to you he sollicits a discharge upon procuring at his own expence a good able bodied American born Man in his room—this proposal may be complied with: but the idea which the Non Commissioned Officers, and Soldiers of our Army seem frequently to entertain, that by doing their duty faithfully, and refusing to enter into the service of the Enemy, they have Merited their dismission from ours; is exceedingly erroneous. Upon this principle, all our Troops; who shall at any time be taken Prisoners, after their exchang⟨e⟩ may claim their discharge.

All new appointments are to be made by the State—While the Regiments were extremely weak, before the reformation of the Army, it was not necessary that the vacancies should be filled, but upon the present Establishment, it will be expedient to have the Corps of Officers kept complete.

I shall speak to the Commissary Genl of Prisoners, respecting those at Fish-Kill.2 I am Dear Sir With great consideration Your Most Obed. Servt

Go: Washington

LS, in David Humphreys’s writing, MHi: Heath Papers; Df, DLC:GW; Varick transcript, DLC:GW.

2GW eventually approved construction of a new provost at a different location (see his letter to Heath, 15 April, MHi: Heath Papers).

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