Letter from Howell Tatum to Jethro Sumner
Tatum, Howell, 1753-1822
Volume 14, Pages 799-800
CAPT. HOWELL TATUM TO GEN. JETHRO SUMNER.
April 3rd, 1780.
Necessity and not Inclination Obliges me to request your Acceptance of my Commission, a Commission which, Till now, I have ever flattered myself I should be able to hold with the Credit that every Officer of Delicacy would choose; how far I am not capable of not doing it, I leave you to judge. I Emerged in to the service of my Country sometime in 1775 with a sufficient Patrimoney, to have kept me from suffering so long as I continued to Conduct myself (in a retired life) with proper Econemy. That Patrimony from attempting some thing in the service of my country which I conceived, from duty, it was Entitled to, has reduced to little better than Poverty. In this situation I am called on to fulfill the duties annexed to my office, and that at a considerable distance from where I now am, with not a shilling and no prospect of
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getting a sufficient quantity to answer the demand I should have both before and after joining my regiment. No, not even a part of near three years pay due me for my past services. I hope, Sir, that you will not conclude that I repine at my fate, but rather give me leave to assure you that nothing more is meant than to prove to you the Impossibility of my continuing any longer in the service without disobeying your orders & bringing myself into contempt with other Officers of the line. Had I still wherewithall to support nature it should still go with the same freedom as ever; but Sir, I feel too sensibly that a want of property occasions a want of friends.
I am, Sir, with the highest esteem,
Your most obedt. & Humble Servt.,