George Washington Papers

To George Washington from New Hampshire Rangers, c.25 February 1781

From New Hampshire Rangers

[c.25 Feb. 1781]1

To his Excellency George Washington Esquire
General and Commander in Chief of the Armies
of the United States of America.

The Memorial of the subscribers Humbly sheweth:

That your Excellencies memorialists have at different past periods, voluntarrily inlisted themselves as Soldiers into the Independant Companies of Rangers raised for the particular defence of the Northern frontiers and hitherto commanded by Major Benjamin Whitcomb.

That your memorialists in general being Inhabitants of aforsaid frontier, was the principle reason next to the cause of Liberty and Freedom, wherein we are all so obstinately contending which induced them freely & out of Choice to engage in said Campanys.

That altho’ your Excellencys memorialists at all times heretofore have been and still are ready and willing cheerfully, to sacrifice life and fortune—Domestic Ease and happiness, for the support and defence of the Independant Liberties of the United States of America, in any part or place thereof and under any Circumstances hasard difficult and perplexing agreeable to your Excellencys Orders and Directions.

Yet they hope that your Excellency will be pleased to suffer your humble memorialists to declare that it was with great grief and anxiety of heart that they heard the heavy tidings of their Companies being reduced and Orders for them to join the New Hampshire Line in the Southern Army2—and that your Excellency upon hearing of the farther reasons of your memorialists will be pleased to direct that they are still to be continued an Independant Corps of Rangers for the defence of the frontier aforsaid.

And First.

That they have received only a part of their Cloathing, and that the Commanding Officer has stopped a considerable part of their Wages, as pay for some Cloathing that they have received.

That many of them have families in the district of Country commonly known by the names of New Hampshire Grants, where the jurisdiction is Claimed by different States, but soldiers families provided for by none; and there is no Law but that of Nature or something worse; so that, their families would undoubtedly have perished were it not for some small attention and assistance, which they have been able to afford them—which upon their removal they must be deprived of.

That the Duty of your Excellencys memorialists has been exceeding hard and difficult—they have been constantly employed in long and dangerous Scouts into Canada and elsewhere, not only destructive to their bodily health, but also very prejudicial to their Cloathing more then doing Camp Duty They have likewise been active in almost every engagement in the northern department whereby their Corps have been much reduced. neither have they had the advantage of any States Store, where they might purchase necessaries at the stipulated prices, but have been obliged to purchase every necessary at a very extravagant price.

Thus circumstanced they think it impracticable if not impossible to march—and Duty dictated, that they should lay their particular Circumstances before your Excellency in hopes that your Excellency will be pleased to grant them redress.

Adding further the distressing situation of the inhabitants on this frontier, being alarmed this day, with the approach of a large body of the Enemy out of Canada, destined against this frontier their Tracks; or slotes of scouting parties have been discovered within about 25 miles of this place. The Inhabitants now mustering are laying upon their Arms—upon the removal of your Excellencys memorialists will be left entirely without any defence against the Enemy—Except the scattered Inhabitants of this Frontier.

Your Excellencys memorialists now embodied and upon active Duty, beg that your Excellency will not be pleased to view any thing in this memorial, or in the behaviour of your Excellencys Memorialists in a disagreeable light as tending in the least to any disaffection to your Excellencys person or Government by neglecting to march untill the foregoing Memorial may be laid before your Excellency—but that they hold themselves ready punctually, to obey every of your Excellencys Orders.

Therefore humbly pray your Excellency to take their present situation under your wise and Judicious consideration and grant them such relief as to your Excellency in great wisdom and prudence may appear most convenient and Your Excellencys memorialists as in duty bound shall ever pray.3

D, DLC:GW. The docket reads in part: “Memorial from Major Whetcombs Corps.” A list of the names of four sergeants and twenty-six other men, presumably privates, concludes the memorial.

1The document is undated but is associated with Brig. Gen. Jacob Bayley’s letter to GW of this date and may have been enclosed with that letter.

3GW could not comply with the petition’s request (see his letter to Bayley, 12 March, DLC:GW).

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