PRESIDENT GEORGE WASHINGTON - MANUSCRIPT DOCUMENT SIGNED 12/10/1783 - HFSID 350442
Ten days before Washington resigns his command as Commander in Chief, he discharges one of the last of his men in his personal guard.
Manuscript DS: "G: Washington", 1p, 9¼x14¾. "Given at Philadelphia", 1783 DECEMBER 10.TEXT IN THE HAND OF COLONEL DAVID COBB WHO HAS PENNED AND SIGNED IN THE LOWER LEFT: "By His Excellency/Command/David Cobb/Aid (sic) de Camp". In full: "By His Excellency George Washington Esqr General and Commander in Chief of the Forces of the United States of America. The Bearer ROBERT PAPPE CORPORAL IN THE INDEPENDENT TROOP OF HORSE COMMANDED BY MAJOR VAN HEER, being enlisted for the War, and having served the term of his engagement, consented to continue in SERVICE UNTILL (sic) the 31ST DAY OF DECEMBER inst, from which date he is hereby discharged the American Army. And in consequence of his Attention and Fidelity, the Commander in Chief being authorized by a Resolution of Congress, presents him with the Horse, Arms and Accoutrements now in his possession, as a gratuity." ON VERSO, COBB HAS PENNED: "Corporal Pappe's/Discharge". CAPTAIN (LATER MAJOR) BARTHOLOMEW VON HEER'S PROVOST TROOP OF LIGHT DRAGOONS WAS FORMED IN 1778. It was also named the Independent Troop of Horse, the Provosts, Provost Corps or Marchesie Corps. It was formed to maintain order in the rear of the main Army, picking up deserters and skulkers (soldiers who avoided performing their duties) and it also performed some of the duties of the modern military police. The troop was mounted, equipped as light dragoons and was comprised of about 63 men. On March 1, 1782, Von Heer recorded that Pappe (or Pape as the Pennsylvania Archives has documented the spelling of the name), was one of 11 of his enlisted men who had not as of that time received his bounty. IN SEPTEMBER 1782, THE PROVOST CORPS WAS ATTACHED TO GENERAL WASHINGTON'S LIFE GUARD, BUT NOT INCORPORATED INTO IT. Sometime between May 26 and September 1783, the Provosts were discharged butGeneral Washington persuaded a sergeant, a corporal and eight Provost soldiers to stay with him until October 3, 1783 to carry his dispatches. General Washington explained the situation regarding the ten Horse soldiers from Van Heer's Dragoons in an October 3, 1783 letter from Rocky Hill, New Jersey to Robert Morris, Superintendent of Finance. From the Washington Papers in the Library of Congress, in full: "When the Men inlisted (sic) for the War were sent home on furlough, not being able to do without a small detachment of Horse, a Sergeant, Corporal and Eight of Van Heer's Dragoons were prevailed on to remain a Month or two longer. They have been extremely faithful and serviceable; but their detention being much longer than was expected, and not receiving any immediate recompense for their voluntary service they begin to be uneasy; and without something is done for them will certainly quit me. As I cannot possibly do without them whilst I remain here, I could wish some little pay might be advanced them, say a couple of Months; the sum would be trifling, and would induce them to stay as long as they shall be wanted. What gives them an additional claim to this is they laid out the greatest part of their three Months pay in Cloathing (sic) which they are now expending in public Service." HISTORIANS HAVE SPECULATED THAT SOME OF THESE MEN MAY HAVE STAYED UNTIL NOVEMBER. THIS DOCUMENT IS PROOF THAT AT LEAST ONE OF THEM, ROBERT PAPPE, NOW THE CORPORAL, STAYED UNTIL AT LEAST DECEMBER 10, 1783, EVEN THOUGH HE HAD ENLISTED FOR THE WAR AND HAD ALREADY COMPLETED HIS REQUIRED TERM OF SERVICE. A SOLDIER'S HORSE, ARMS AND ACCOUTREMENTS WERE GOVERNMENT PROPERTY. BUT PAPPE RECEIVED THEM AS "GRATUITY" FOR HIS SERVICE. Washington was in Philadelphia after bidding a formal farewell to his officers on December 4 at Fraunces Tavern in New York. He stayed in Philadelphia from December 9 to 15 during which he signed this discharge. His Aide-de-Camp, Colonel (later Brigadier General) David Cobb prepared the document for signature. THE DOCUMENT WAS LIKELY ONE OF COBB'S FINAL DUTIES FOR WASHINGTON, who later wrote from Mt. Vernon to Robert Morris, Superintendent of Finance, on January 4, 1784: "Cobb I would not Suffer, (on Accot. of his domestic and other concerns) to proceed any further than Philadelphia with me but his distance from thence home, would be equal to those of Humprheys and Walkers from this place...." COBB, THEREFORE LEFT WASHINGTON'S SERVICE ON OR BEFORE DECEMBER 15, FIVE DAYS AFTER THIS DOCUMENT WAS WRITTEN. Washington continued on to Annapolis, Maryland where, on December 23, 1783, he presented himself to the United States in Congress assembled and resigned his commission as General and Commander in Chief of the Forces of the United States of America. He left Annapolis the following morning and arrived that evening, Christmas Eve, at his beloved Mount Vernon, where he thought he would spend the remainder of his days in retirement. COBB, who had served Washington as an aide since June of 1781 was a Harvard graduate (1766), who had studied medicine in Boston and practiced in Taunton, Massachusetts. He was a member of the Provincial Congress in 1775 and was Lieutenant Colonel of Jackson's regiment in 1777 and 1778, serving in Rhode Island and New Jersey. In 1786, Cobb was appointed Major General of Militia and rendered conspicuous service during Shay's Rebellion. He was a Federalist who represented Massachusetts in Congress from 1793-1795. In follow-up to ROBERT PAPPE, official files show he made application for a military pension in October of 1789. Uniformly tanned. The document was once folded and had separated at the folds but has been expertly repaired and reattached on the verso. All letters are intact. The first "G" in the signature was affected by a vertical separation but is reattached now with the appearance of a vertical fold touching it. Lightly creased. Light shading at repaired areas. Lightly nicked edges.
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