George Washington Papers

To George Washington from John Richardson, 6 February 1781

Philadelphia Feby 6th 1781


To your Excellency as the Father of your Officers, and the Guardian of their Rights and Honor, We the subscribers officers in the Pennsylvania Line are induced to represent our greivances and situation which on the first Veiw we are well convinc’d from your Excellencys known delicacy you will better conceive than we can express and therefore readily excuse this intrusion on your more important considerations.

We beg leave to inform your Excellency that we were amongst the first in support of our Countries Rights, and disregarding our domestic calls, encounter’d the dangers and hardships of the feild under your command, were unfortunately made Prisoners by the Enemy in the campain of Seventy Six where we suffer’d all the Severity of treatment a cruel and at that time an exulting Foe could inflict with that fortitude and perseverance recommended by your Excellency and which we promised ourselves should obtain the approbation of a gratefull Country and distinguish us as Men superior to Adversity and Misfortune in the Worst of times.

That during our captivity many resolves were enter’d into by the Legislature of our State, confirming our opinions "that we were entitled to all the Rank Pay and Emoluments of Officers in actual service" and "when Exchanged should be provided for." Notwithstanding which in May 1779 after our exchange, Congress were pleased to resolve, that all Officers that were Prisoners or had been exchanged and were not in the arrangement should be dismissed the Service with the trifling gratuity of one years pay advance and a reference to a former resolve of that honorable Body thanking a Number of officers (which it was thought propper to select as Supernumeraries on what occasion we know not) for thier pass’d Services.

That altho all the pay we had ever receiv’d and the year’s pay advance was very inadequate to our losses and expences in a long captivity, yet as we conceive it to be a measure adopted to avoid the confusion & difficulties which had taken place in the arrangement; we did not complain, conceiving it not affecting our reputation in particular as the dismission was general.

But on the last exchange taking place Congress have been pleased on the first of January last to Resolve, that it is the sense of that honorable body that all officers exchanged since the new arrangement should be entitled to the same Rank Pay and Emoluments as if they had been in active service, thereby making an invidious distinction between those officers exchanged previous to the last arrangement & those since exchanged, partially rescinding the resolve of May the 22d 1779 in favor of a part, where all in the said resolution described are equaly entitled to the benefits and advantages.

We consider ourselves much injur’d by a dismission and discrimination so peculiarly degrading, without a reason assigned for such a proceedure.

Your Excellency will please to pardon us for requesting your interferance in behalf of our Rights (when we assure you Sir, nothing but the greatest Violence done our feelings as Officers and Men of Honor could induce us to intrude our complaints when every Moment of your Excellencies time is engaged in the most important concerns) and that You will please to favor us with your concurrence in an application to the Honorable the Legislature of the State of Pensylvania which is now preparing. We are with the greatest Esteem Your Excellency’s most Obedient & Verry Humble Servants

N.B. Signed in behalf of ourselves & others the whole included not exceeding in number fifteen.

John Richardson Capt.

Dan. Brodhead jr Capt.

John Lawrence Capt. 6th

John Morgan Capt. 6th

Jno. Helm, Capt. 6th

Danl Topham 13th Captn

Robert Caldwell Capn 9th

Bernard Ward Capn 13th

Matths Wiederman Capt. 13th

DLC: Papers of George Washington.

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