Lot 147

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George Washington Gives a Horse and Guns to His Loyal Guard 10 Days Before Resigning as Commander in Chief

Manuscript Document Signed, "G: Washington", 1p, 9 “x 15", Philadelphia, December 10, 1783. Text penned by David Cobb who has signed in lower left, "By His Excellency / Command / David Cobb / Aid de Camp". Expected toning not affecting dark writing and superb signature of Washington; expert restoration to folds and/or separations, mostly visible on verso and not detracting from document's very nice appearance. Very suitable for display!

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 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." Penned on verso, "Corporal Pappe's / Discharge".

Von Herr’s Light Dragoons was formed in 1778, also named “Troop of Horse”, which is interesting, in considering the gift of a horse. The troop was mounted, equipped as light dragoons and was comprised of about 63 men. Sometime between May 26 and September 1783, the Provosts were discharged, but General Washington persuaded a sergeant, a corporal and eight Provost soldiers to stay with him until October 3, 1783.

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 with original spelling unchanged, "When the Men inlisted 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 which they are now expending in public Service."

Some stayed till November as this document proves. Pappe stayed till December 10, exhibiting his loyalty. 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.

This item comes with a Certificate from John Reznikoff, a premier authenticator for both major 3rd party authentication services, PSA and JSA (James Spence Authentications), as well as numerous auction houses.


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February 1, 2023 11:00 AM EST
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