Front Page Titles (by Subject) TO THE PRESIDENT OF CONGRESS. - The Writings of George Washington, vol. VI (1777-1778)
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TO THE PRESIDENT OF CONGRESS. - George Washington, The Writings of George Washington, vol. VI (1777-1778) 
The Writings of George Washington, collected and edited by Worthington Chauncey Ford (New York and London: G. P. Putnam’s Sons, 1890). Vol. VI (1777-1778).
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TO THE PRESIDENT OF CONGRESS.
Head-Quarters, 30 April, 1778.
The extensive ill consequences, arising from a want of uniformity in discipline and manœuvres throughout the army, have long occasioned me to wish for the establishment of a well organized inspectorship; and the concurrence of Congress in the same views has induced me to set on foot a temporary institution, which, from the success that has hitherto attended it, gives me the most flattering expectations, and will, I hope, obtain their approbation.
Baron de Steuben’s length of service in the first military school in Europe, and his former rank, pointed him out as a person peculiarly qualified to be at the head of this department. This appeared the least exceptionable way of introducing him into the army, and one that would give him the most ready opportunity of displaying his talents. I therefore proposed to him to undertake the office of inspector-general, which he agreed to with the greatest cheerfulness, and has performed the duties of it with a zeal and intelligence equal to our wishes. He has two ranks of inspectors under him; the lowest are officers charged with the inspection of brigades, with the title of brigade-inspectors; the others superintend several of these. They have written instructions relative to their several functions; and the manœuvres, which they are to practise, are illustrated by a company, which the Baron has taken the pains to train himself.1
The brigade-inspectors were chosen by the brigadier and commanding officers of regiments in each brigade. The inspectors are Lieutenant-Colonels Barber1 of Jersey, Brooks2 of Massachusetts, Davis3 of Virginia, and Monsieur Ternant, a French gentleman. The reason for employing him, apart [from] his intrinsic merit and abilities, was his possessing the French and English languages equally, which made him a necessary assistant to Baron de Steuben. He is content to serve without rank, until, after an experiment of his abilities, Congress shall determine what he is entitled to.
Upon the arrival of Lieutenant-Colonel Fleury in camp, as he was unemployed, and had exercised the office of aid-major in France, the Baron proposed to have him employed as an inspector; in which I readily acquiesced, as Congress had given him the rank and pay of lieutenant-colnel. There may be other foreign officers in Continental pay, idle for want of being attached to some corps, of whose services we might avail ourselves in this way, which is the only method of disposing of them, unless they could be formed into a distinct corps. From the extraordinary fatigue and close attention required of the officers employed in the inspectorship, I did not think it amiss to let them entertain hopes, that Congress would allow some addition to the pay, which they derive from their rank, and I take the liberty of recommending the measure. I would propose twenty dollars per month for the brigade-inspectors, and thirty for the inspectors, in addition to their pay in the line.
I should do injustice if I were to be longer silent with regard to the merits of the Baron de Steuben. His knowledge of his profession, added to the zeal which he has discovered since he began upon the functions of his office, leads me to consider him as an acquisition to the service, and to recommend him to the attention of Congress. His expectations with regard to rank extend to that of major-general. His finances, he ingenuously confesses, will not admit of his serving without the incident emoluments; and Congress, I presume, from his character, and their own knowledge of him, will without difficulty gratify him in these particulars.
The Baron is sensible, that our situation requires a few variations in the duties of his office from the general practice in Europe, and particularly that they must necessarily be more comprehensive; in which, as well as in his instructions, he has skilfully yielded to circumstances. The success, which has hitherto attended the plan, enables me to request with confidence the ratification of Congress, and is I think a pledge of the establishment of a well combined general system, which insurmountable obstacles have hitherto opposed. I have the honor to be, &c.1
[1 ]“I have had several long conversations with the Baron Steuben, who appears to me a man profound in the science of war, and well disposed to render his best services to the United States. In an interview between him and the general, at which I assisted in quality of interpreter, he declared that he had purposely waved making any contract with Congress, previous to his having made some acquaintance with the Commander in chief, in order that he might avoid giving offence to the officers of the army, and that the general might decide in what post he could be the most useful. If I have conceived rightly of his character and abilities, he would make us an excellent quarter master general, in the military part of the department; his office being confined to the choice of positions, regulation of marches, etc. But as the civil and military duties with us are blended, he can’t be disposed of in this way; his being a foreigner, unfitting him totally for the latter. I think he would be the properest man we could choose for the office of inspector general, and there are several good assistants that might be given him. I have the highest opinion of the service he would render in this line, as he seems to be perfectly aware of the disadvantages under which our army has labored from short enlistments and frequent changes; seems to understand what our subjects are capable of, and is not so staunch a systematist as to be averse from adapting established forms to stubborn circumstances. He will not give us the perfect instructions, absolutely speaking, but the best which we are in a condition to receive. We want some kind of general tutoring in this way so much, that as obnoxious as Conway is to most of the army, rather than take the field without the advantages that might be derived from a judicious exercise of his office, I would wish every motive of dissatisfaction respecting him for the present to be suppressed. The Baron proposes to take the rank of major general, with the pay, rations, &c. He does not wish for any actual command, as he is not acquainted with our language and the genius of our people.”—John Laurens to his Father, 28 February, 1778.
[1 ]Francis Barber.
[2 ]John Brooks.
[3 ]William Davis.
[1 ]“I had received the resolution of Congress of the 23d. extending my former powers. From your representation of the character of John Derrick, he seems a proper object to make an example of. You will be pleased to transmit me the proceedings of the court martial against him, that I may determine upon them. This I do not desire from the smallest doubt of the most conscientious rectitude and propriety of conduct on your part, being satisfied that this will be the case, but from an idea, and on reconsideration of the matter, that the powers delegated to me by Congress are of a personal nature, and should according to common usage in similar cases, at least in instances where life is concerned, be exercised and carried into execution by a personal decree. You are not to infer from hence that you are not to order court martials for the trial of offenders in the predicament of John Derrick &c, who have or may violate the resolutions you mention; but only that the proceedings in such cases, where capital punishments are denounced, must be sent to me for approbation or disapprobation.”—Washington to General Smallwood, 30 April, 1778.