Letter from Otho Holland Williams to Horatio Gates
Williams, Otho Holland, 1747-1790
Volume 14, Pages 716-717
COL. O. H. WILLIAMS TO MAJ. GENL. GATES.
Camp, 28th October, 1780.
An abuse has long prevail'd in the Army, which is much more injurious than is generally imagined. Gentlemen are sometimes
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indulg'd with waiters from the line; some times they detain Soldiers as Waiters, without permission, and sometimes the Soldiers, to get from their duty, offer their Services to any Body who has any pretentions to public pay or Privileges; and this kind of Conduct has been so long unnoticed and unpunish'd that a Soldier can now leave his Ranks with impunity, and is sure to find employment and a sort of clamorous protection from some Officer or other, who, because of the abominable custom, thinks himself entitled to the services of a man in pay of the public. At the time our line was most deranged many of our best men were taken as Bat-men and for other Extraordinary duties; and I find it impossible, without your interposition, to reclaim this abuse; therefore I beg you will be pleas'd to Order that no Continental Soldier be taken or retain'd from the line for any purpose whatever without the consent of the Commanding Officer of the Corps to which he belongs or a General order, and that such as are now absent from their Corps be immediately return'd. This will put it in my power to march all the Effective men, and in place of Bat-men, &c., of 6 feet and one Inch, put light Boys, who are as proper for Waiters.
Yr. M. Obedt. Hble. Servt.,
Q. H. WILLIAMS.