George Washington Papers

From George Washington to Captain Job Sumner, 23 February 1781

To Captain Job Sumner

Head Quarters New Windsor 23d Feby 1781.


I was duly favd with yours of the 24th ulto, but I was at the time so much engaged with the affairs of the Army in Jersey1 that I could not attend to it2—I cannot undertake to say whether the kind of exchange you wish to accomplish will be ratified by the State to which you belong, but if it should, I conceive the concurrence of all the Captains of the line (and not those of your own Regt alone) must be obtained, because as they rise lineally to the rank of Feild Officers, all those, who are your juniors may, if they think proper, insist upon the Captain, with whom you exchange, coming in youngest—If affairs of this nature are not previously well understood, and settled to the content of all parties, they create infinite trouble and uneasiness, to me especially, as I am appealed to upon all cases of irregularity or difficulty—As to your second question—Whether the Officers of Colo. Livingston’s Regt are to depend upon the State of New York or Congress for their half pay? I cannot determine it—I am &.

Df, in Tench Tilghman’s writing, DLC:GW; Varick transcript, DLC:GW.

1GW alludes to the mutiny in the New Jersey line (see Israel Shreve to GW, 20 Jan., and the source note to that document). For his initial awareness of Sumner’s letter, see GW to William Heath, 25–29 Jan., postscript.

2On 24 Jan., Sumner had written GW from Verplanck Point, N.Y.: “Although I can easily conceive that the time of your Excelle[n]cy must be much engrossed by the important Affairs of these States, yet from your former Politness I am induced once more, as an Individual, to beg your Attention. I have an Inclination to exchange Places with a Captain of the late Colonel James Livingston’s Regiment, who is very desirous to continue in Service, but before the Matter is fully determined on my part, I could wish to know the Opinion of your Excellency, whether an Act of this Nature made with satisfaction to the Colonel and other Officers would be licit, and whether the Officer’s of that Regt are to depend on the Continent at large, or on the State of New York in particular, for their half Pay, or the Advantages of the Act of Congress on which they retire—your Answer as soon as is convenient will be most gratefully Acknowledged” (ALS, DLC:GW). Sumner evidently remained in the army. For his earlier appeal and GW’s response, see Sumner to GW, 23 Dec. 1780, and the source note to that document. For the half-pay retirement provisions for officers in the congressional reorganization of the army, see Samuel Huntington to GW, 26 Oct., n.1.

Index Entries