George Washington Papers

From George Washington to Benjamin Stoddert, 5 September 1780

Head Qrs near Hackinsac Bridge Septr 5: 1780


I have received Mr Stoddert’s Letter of the 28th of August, with a Copy of the Resolution of the 12th, to which it refers. I see, for the reasons mentioned, that there will be a good deal of difficulty in making out the List of the Officers directed by the Act—and I am sorry that I have it not in my power to give the Board the assistance I could wish; but such as I can render they shall not readily receive. I would however, previous to any interfering in this business in any degree, beg leave to suggest to them that it appears to me necessary, that it should be clearly and explicitly understood by the Board, which seems not to be the case by their Letter, what Officers are to be the Objects of their Report. If those are not designated, it may lead to injustice, which though eventually redressed, would nonetheless in the first instance excite great complaint and confusion. If the point should be left subject to various constructions and interpretations, this must be the consequence, as we may easily conclude from the very different conduct & treatment, which have been adopted by the different states and still prevail in many instances, with respect to the Officers & Corps which the Board mention. Indeed the present is a matter of a delicate nature—and it is to be wished for the sake of harmony—that it could be so settled, that All the Officers who are to have the depreciation of their pay made-up, could be described in One general arrangement. The mentioning of one set & postponing Another, though a provision should be afterwards made for them & equally intend[ed] when that for Others was determined, is the source of uneasiness and of apprehension that discriminations will obtain injuries to the latter.

Whether Aids de Camp & Secretaries who have not Regimental Commissions or Appointments should be part of the Officers, who are to be under the Board’s consideration, is a question I can not determine; but they are certainly as much Officers in the line of the Army as any Others and equally entitled to this just compensation, which I should also suppose must be the case, with respect to Officers of every description whether military or staff, who have served for a standing, fixed pay—which has not been encreased from time to time as the depreciation encreased. The doubt with the Board with respect to Aids cannot extend against the equity of their claim, but only I presume whether they are to be Objects of their Report—or are to come under the consideration of any other body—or of the Committee proposed by the Act of the 10th of April. I have the Honor to be with great respect Gentn

P.S. The Board’s Letter of the 25th Ulto came to hand the 2d Inst. with Commissions only for Moylan’s & Webb’s Regimts.

DLC: Papers of George Washington.

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