June 24th 1782
To His Excellency George Washington Esqr Commander in Chief
The Undersigned, viewing with regret the situation of their Country, with respect to the prospect of Military operations, the ensuing Campaign, render’d more gloomy by the misfortune of the Count De Grasse, are led to immagine, that this season will be waisted in America with a degree of unavoidable Inactivity, which not corresponding with the professional Ideas of a Soldier, they request—that your Excellency will permit them to join the Combined Armies in the West Indies, who according to the received Opinion, have notwithstanding the unfortunate Action with Admiral Rodney, form’d a Junction at Cape Francois, & are making vigorous exertions to proceed with the seige of Jamaica.
This request they flatter themselves will meet with your approbation for the reason mentioned, Aided by this principle, that notwithstanding the favours received from our Great Ally, and the number of Gentlemen who have freely offer’d their Lives, for the service of our Country, very few, if any, of our Countrymen, have immitated their laudable Example, by returning the Complement.
The Undersigned, will consider themselves happy if their Request meets with your Approbation, not only by reason of their being the first that adopted this Line of Conduct—but that they may thereby be enabled to cancel in a small Degree (at this period of apparent Inactivity) the Obligations, they as Americans, feel themselves under to the generous Ally’s of their Country.
The Undersigned have made every necessary Arrangement, for putting this Plan in execution, provided they should be favour’d with your approving Voice, and hope to be enabled, to leave the Continent, in the Course of two—or three Weeks at farthest, & pursue the plan referr’d to, with Vigor and attention.
The particular Situation, & Policy of our Army, rendering it difficult for Gentlemen in our situation, to Obtain Commands suitable to our Rank, and urged by an anxiety to improve ourselves in the Art of War, are strong Reasons, that may be connected with the preceeding, and perhaps may contribute towards obtaining the Indulgence requested.
W.S. Smith Lt Colo.
M. Clarkson Major
DLC: Papers of George Washington.