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Letter from Hugh Williamson and William Blount to Alexander Martin
Williamson, Hugh, 1735-1819; Blount, William, 1749-1800
November 09, 1782
Volume 16, Pages 455-457

HON’S. HU. WILLIAMSON AND WILLIAM BLOUNT TO GOV. ALEX. MARTIN.
[From Executive Letter Book.]

Philadelphia, Nov. 9th, 1782.

Dear Sir:

The Resolutions of 3rd October and 10th December, 1781, have doubtless been forwarded to Government pressing the filling up the Continental Battalions by enlistments for three years or during the War. Since the dates of the above requisitions Congress have been urged by the dictates of necessity and prudence to make reforms in every department where money could be saved. The Resolves of August 7th, 1782, were in consequence of that plan & are a part of the system. It is clear that almost every Officer in the North Carolina Line would be deranged on the first of January in consequence of those Resolves & yet you will find, when the Journals are handed you, that Mr. Blount and myself did not think fit to oppose the measure on general ground nor to mar the Journals by unavailing Yeas and Nays. We yielded to the Storm of Necessity. A measure which the general good of the Army demanded, which had been recommended by the Commander-in-Chief & had been digested in Congress was not to be rashly opposed by a State, to whom they would certainly reply, that we had been absolutely inattentive to the Requisitions of Congress, while other States at a great expense were filling up their Battalions by long enlistments.

After two months when the business had subsided sufficiently we presumed that we might, without much opposition, obtain relief for the State, provided we could couch it under some colourable excuse.

Accordiugly, October 9th, 1782, on motion of Mr. Williamson, seconded by Mr. Blount, that a Committee be appointed to consider whether the Officers and Troops belonging to the Line of some States in the Union may not be so affected by the Resolves of August 7th respecting the Army as to injure the public service, the same was referred to Mr. Williamson, Mr. Montgomery & Mr. Bland. From what passed in Congress when the motion was made

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it was very clear that opposition would be made to every measure that might be attempted to give particular Indulgences, as they were called to particular States. However, as all that we desired was to obtain a Vote for keeping our Officers and Men on the establishment, you will observe the means by which we attempted it. The Report was drawn up in Terms which could hardly give offence to anybody; and being Chairman of the Committee I gave it in as soon as a report prevailed that the enemy were about to continue in Charlestown, for, by the way, it has always been questioned whether the enemy would evacuate that port. Their plan at least appeared doubtful. The Report of the Committee, after some debate, was referred to the Secretary at War to report. The Secretary reported that the general arrangement of the Army could not be materially injured by adopting the measure we had proposed. Whence the report, after a second debate, was agreed to in Congress on the 4th Instant. It was in these words, viz:

Whereas, it is represented that the State of North Carolina was zealously pressed by the Commander-in-Chief in the Southern Department at the last sitting of the General Assembly in May last to send immediate support to the Army under his Command whose situation was critical and dangerous, & that not being able with the necessary dispatch to raise a sufficient number of Troops for three years or during the War they caused 1,500 Men to be immediately draughted for eighteen months, &, whereas, the Southern States may be endangered while the enemy continue in that quarter by a sudden diminution of our Army.

Resolved:

That the Commander in the Southern Army be instructed to retain in the public Service so many of the eighteen months drafts of the State of North Carolina as he shall think the public safety may require, and that a proportional number of Officers shall be continued in full pay for the Command of those Troops while they are in the field, the Resolution of the 7th of August notwithstanding, and they retire on the same principles or emoluments on which they would have retired had not the operation of the said Resolve been postponed.

Thus you see our Troops continue on the same footing they would have stood if no Resolves on the Subject had passed. If the General

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needs them he will keep them in the Service, and if a Period should happen when good Troops are not wanted they will be requested to march home and try to replace the numerous Soldiers & Citizens we have lost during the War by getting more.

The Mother of Captain Asgel, on whom the Lot fell to be punished in retaliation for Captain Huddy, having petitioned the French Court for the life of her Son, the Count Vergennes, has requested at the intercession of the King and Queen of France that Captain Asgel be spared on the full persuasion that the enemy having disapproved and condemned the murder of Captain Huddy will not repeat such outrages. Congress on so respectable a request have discharged Captain Asgel, & beside requiring that Sir G. Carlton shall, as he has promised, make further attempts to discover and punish the murderers of Captain Huddy. They have given a General Instruction that the Commanding Officers of our several Armies whenever any outrages are committed by the enemy contrary to the Laws of War or practices of humanity, after demanding reparation, unless it is immediately made, they shall forthwith retaliate.

We have the honor to be, &c.,
HU. WILLIAMSON,
WM. BLOUNT.