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A Friend to Truth on Colonel Henry' s Resignation


Williamsburgh, March 15, 1776.

I am informed a report is prevailing throughout the Colony that the Committee of Safety were the cause of Colonel Henry' s resigning the command of his battalion, which it is supposed hath received confirmation from the Address of the Officers to that gentleman, in which they speak of a glaring indignity having been offered him, if it was not wholly derived from that source. That the good people of the country may be truly informed in this matter, the following state of facts is submitted, without comment, to the impartial judgment of the publick:

As soon as the last Convention had voted the raising seven new battalions of troops, besides augmenting the old ones, the Committee of Safety informed our Delegates to Congress of that vote, desiring they would use their best endeavours to have the whole supported at Continental expense; in answer to which a letter was received from the Delegates, dated the 30th of December, of which the following is an extract:

"The resolutions of Congress for taking our six additional (they would not agree to take the other two) battalions into Continental pay, and for permitting any exportation for supplying our countrymen with salt, are enclosed."


It was supposed, from hence, an intention prevailed in Congress to pass by the two old battalions and take six of the new ones into Continental pay, which, as it was said those officers would take precedency of Provincial ones of equal rank, was generally thought wrong, since it would degrade the officers of the first two battalions; and, to avoid this, the Convention came to a Resolution the 10th January, of which the following is part:

"Should the Congress adhere to their resolution of taking into Continental pay no more than six battalions, let it be earnestly recommended to them to suffer our two present battalions (to be completed as before-mentioned) to stand first in the arrangement, since otherwise the officers first appointed by this Convention, most of whom have already gone through a laborious and painful service, will be degraded in their ranks, and there is too much reason to apprehend that great confusion will ensue."

The worthy gentleman (not a member of the Committee of Safety) who proposed this Resolution, informed the Convention he had consulted some of the officers of the First Regiment, who wished to have their rank preserved, though it was foreseen the pay would be reduced.

The Committee of Safety, in a letter to the Delegates, dated the 25th of January, enclosing this Resolution, thus write:

"You have a list of the Field-Officers, as they stand recommended, and we doubt not receiving their commissions in the like order, with blanks for the proper number of Captains and Subalterns. If, however, the resolution of Congress should be unalterably fixed to allow us but six battalions, you will please to attend to that part of the resolve which recommends their being the first six, as a point of great consequence to our harmony, which may be involved in the good of the common cause."

The Committee of Safety afterwards received the commissions (wholly filled up) for the Field-Officers of six battalions, in the rank they stood recommended by the Convention, beginning with Colonel Henry, and ending with Colonel Buckner, of the Sixth Battalion, with directions to deliver them. Colonel Henry was accordingly offered his commission, which he declined accepting, and retired without assigning any reasons.

As to the General Officers, the Convention left them entirely to the choice of the Congress, without recommendation, nor did the Committee of Safety at all intermeddle in that choice.