The Papers of General Nathanael Greene


To Lieutenant William Eppes

Sir

I have your favor of this day.[1] No officer can rank but by an appointment in General orders or by his commision. I am a stranger to your claims and pretentions; nor have I a single doubt but that your rank will be confirmed when the arrangment is compleated. The order you refer to does not interfere with your right but only the exercise of that right for the time being. It is impossible upon any Military principles that you should exercise command different from that which you have by appointment in General orders or by commision.
Many Officers in this Army are doing duty upon their old commision notwithstanding their right of promotion is as incontestible as yours and nothing wanting but their commisions from the board of war. To comply with your request would introduce such an innovation in Military arrangment as would be productive of the greatest degree of confusion. I perswade my self when you consider the matter properly you will neither wish to resign or exercise command different from your commision; especially as it is a general principle which pervades the whole Army and which is universally agreed to from a principle of Military propriety. If these reasons are not satisfactory, I cannot help it, I shall sooner loose an officer than introduce precedent which can not be warranted either by reason or custom. No officer can leave the army with reputation under such circumstances, and more especially at a time when his Country has the most occasion for his services.[2] I am Sir

your humble Ser

N Greene

Autograph draft signed (MiU-C).
    [1.] Eppes's letter, dated 20 January, is at PGNG, 7: 164.
    [2.] Eppes resigned in a letter of 22 January (PGNG, 7: 169).