George Washington Papers

From George Washington to Major General Samuel Holden Parsons, 11 February 1781

To Major General Samuel Holden Parsons

H. Quarters New Windsor Feby 11th 1781


Representation has been made to me, that in determining the Rank of Leiutenants in the New Arrangement of the Connecticut Line; regard hath only been paid to the time of their several appointments, as Leiutenants, without reference to the difference of rank as first or second Leiutenants.1 If there was a distinct grade between these Officers, as between a Colonel & Leiut. Colonel, (which, I beleive, there was understood to be by ourselves, in service, & am certain there was considered to be by the enemy, in exchange)2 it appears to me, that by confounding this distinction, the Senior Leiutenants may be superseded in many instances, by Junior Officers, who were actually commanded by them, at the time the arrangement was made—I am aware of the great irregularities which have been occasioned unavoidably by Regimental promotion; but at the same time, am of opinion, it will not be best to augment them; by setting up principles, which must operate partially, without being able to correct the former irregularity.

I have therefore enclosed the Connecticut Arrangement to you, that the rank of the Officers may be returned exactly as it stood at the time this new establishmt took place. I desire it may be returned as soon as possible.3 I am Sr.

Df, in David Humphreys’s writing, DLC:GW; Varick transcript, DLC:GW.

2GW refers to prisoner exchanges.

3On 16 Feb., Parsons wrote GW: “I herwith transmit you an Arrangment of the Connectt Line. I suppos’d it would have been best to have had all the Lines of the Army uniform in respect to their 2nd Lieuts.; and as Massachusetts Bay & some other States and the Sixteen Battalions, I had been informd, in the Arrangment in 78, had procurd Lieutenant’s Commissions for their 2nd Lieutenants from the Date of their first Appointment, I concluded it would be best to be uniform in our Principles. I don’t know, that other Lines have practiced in this Manner, but, I have been repeatedly informd so; and that Colo. Webb’s Regt one of the Sixteen have been commission’d in that Manner is certain I have seen & examind their Commissions—by the present Return the Dates of the Commissions in every Subaltern Rank is given” (ALS, DLC:GW). The enclosed arrangement has not been identified. Comparisons to “the Sixteen Battalions” refer to the Additional Continental Regiments.

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