HONORABLE DISCHARGE SIGNED BY GENERAL GEORGE WASHINGTON IN JUNE 1783 AS COMMANDER-IN-CHIEF
(AMERICAN REVOLUTION) WASHINGTON, George. Document signed. Newburgh, New York: June 11, 1783. Folio, original ivory printed document (measures 8 by 13-1/2 inches) printed on both sides and finish by hand on the recto. WITH: two pay vouchers, each 6-1/2 by 8 inches, printed on recto and finished by hand. $28,000.
A fine example of a soldier's discharge, boldly signed "G. Washington," issued from his headquarters in June, 1783, near the end of the Revolutionary War, instructing that one "Jazaniah How, Sergeant" of the Invalid Corps, having served for six years and one month, is hereby discharged. It is said that Washington insisted on personally signing soldiers' discharges at the end of the war, wanting to display his appreciation for the sacrifices they made.
This rare June 11, 1783, official document, signed by Washington at his headquarters, comes just three months before the Treaty of Paris would officially end the American Revolutionary War. While the American victory at Yorktown in late 1781 had dealt a mortal blow to the British and effectively ended their offensive operations on the continent, the British still had 30,000 garrison troops occupying New York City, Charleston, and Savannah. Washington remained skeptical of British intentions and was wary of his army easing its guard. "He didn't know that on November 30, 1782 a preliminary peace treaty had been signed… As another icy winter loomed, Washington sensed deep discontent roiling his troops" and vowed to keep a watchful eye on his men (Chernow, 430). "With little fighting to do… only the hand of Washington kept the army from another revolution" (Clark, 11).
This document also speaks to the Continental Congress's June 1777 creation of an Invalid Corps, after the terrible losses at the Battle of Long Island. "They suffered overwhelming odds when the tally of losses was taken—records, though not exact in verification even up to this day, show that at least 1,100 were taken prisoner and approximately 300 were killed and 650 wounded. It was considered a great loss for that time when taking into account the number of combatants involved. Faced with this great loss, Gen. George Washington was more than determined to face the task of saving his remaining troops and this, fortunately, he was able to accomplish later. At that time, the idea of forming a different class of regiment occurred — soon to be known as the `Invalid Corps.' This idea, it seems, grew out of discussions and decisions which had been initiated concerning the number of disabilities and the problem of allowances and status of pensions after the battle. So many losses were precipitated during the Battle of Long Island — losses of arms and legs and other body parts — that something had to be done to alleviate the severity of the problems that arose. The plan that was devised was to help the Continental soldiers willing to enter battle, even at the risk of their own lives, and this was to offer what was to be the first American 'pension plan.' What Congress decided was to grant half-pay to the wounded and disabled, but also put forth the following caveat, that all such officers and soldiers who were found capable of doing guard or garrison duty should be formed into a `Corps of Invalids' and `subject into the said duty'" (Joan Brown Wettingfeld). Countersigned by J. Trumbull and Jonathan Pugh, the regiment's adjutant At the bottom of the document is the declaration that "The above Jazaniah How has been honored with the Badge of Merit for six Years faithful Service," signed by Lewis Nicola, who founded the Invalid Corps. Accompanying this discharge are two pay vouchers for How, each signed by Eleazer Wales and dated July 25, 1783, one recording the payment of "Sixteen pounds, six shillings and one penny" and the other "Thirty-seven pounds and six shillings"; Jazaniah How signed each document with an "X," noted as "his mark."
Expected fold lines. A wonderful Washington document in exceptionally fine condition, with one of the finest Washington signatures we have ever seen.