George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Elias Dayton, 15 March 1782

Huts near Morris Town March 15th 1782


Altho’ the officers of the Jersey line are in want of every species of cloathing, and altho the Pay master generals notes would be a considerable relief, yet they are induced from motives of prudence & policy unanimously to decline accepting them. Necessitous as our circumstances are, we conceive it far more eligible to make this sacrifice than to hazzard the affects which our receiving the notes might make upon the minds of the men, and the disagreeable consequences, we are apprehensive would follow.

The soldiers, since the first of last January, have been expecting their pay with the most earnest solicitude, which by some means or other, they conceived they were about to receive regularly from that period; and their disappointment from time to time, without a prospect of relief, hath produced such uneasiness as has given pain & apprehension to every officer. We cannot but immagine that our being in more necessitous circumstances than they, and patiently enduring the same fate, as to pay, has hitherto prevented, & will be a principal check to those fatal disorders we have for some time past been alarmed with.

Notwithstanding these notes (as we suppose) were issued for the purpose of placing the officers on a footing with the soldiers in point of cloathing, yet we are sensible they will not be considered in that light; for many of the men have been heard to account for the goods we received at York town in that way. Should they view them in the light of pay, they will at once conclude, that they were intended to stop the mouths of the officers and prevent their rimonstrances upon that subject. We conceive, moreover, the measure will have a tendency to withdraw the confidence of the soldiers from their officers, and to prevent their looking up to them, as the means of redress, which otherwise perhaps they would do, when their interests & sufferings were the same. We forbear entering into a more particular detail of our situation; but we would beg leave to suggest to your Excellency, the policy of supplying the soldiers with some pay (be the portion ever so small) of which the officers will very chearfully accept their proportion.

We request your Excellency to be assured that they are the genuine reasons for our not receiving the notes. Considering the state of our finances, we have not a single objection against them as pay. To some of us they would be equal to the cash; and to all they would be a considerable relief. We are, with the sincerest respect and esteem Your Excellency’s most obedient and very humble servants

Signed in behalf, and at the request

of the officers of the Jersey line

Elias Dayton Comdt

DLC: Papers of George Washington.

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