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selves, dishonorable to the service, and injurious to the officers of sentiment and delicacy, who remain behind to experience the rigors of resentment and distrust on their account, cannot be tolerated, whatever be the pretence.
I have made a point of sending those back, that have come under my observation; and I must desire you will do the same towards those who fall under yours.
A conduct of this kind demands that every measure should be taken, to deprive them of the benefit of their delinquency, and to compel their return.
REGULAR TROOPS, SUPERIOR TO MILITIA.
Regular troops alone are equal to the exigencies of modern war, as well for defence as offence; and, whenever a substitute is attempted, it must prove illusory and ruinous.
No Militia will ever acquire the habits necessary to resist a regular force. Even those nearest to the seat of war, are only valuable as light troops, to be scattered in the woods, and harass rather than do serious injury to the enemy.
The firmness requisite for the real business of
fighting, is only to be attained, by a constant course of discipline and service. I have never yet been witness to a single instance, that can justify a different opinion; and it is most earnestly to be wished, that the liberties of America may no longer be trusted, in any material degree, to so precarious a dependence.
I confess, I have felt myself greatly embarrassed, with respect to a vigorous exercise of military power. An ill-placed humanity, perhaps, and a reluctance to give distress, may have restrained me too far; but these were not all. I have been well aware of the present jealousy of military power; and that this has been considered as an evil much to be apprehended, even by the best and most sensible among us. Under this idea, I have been cautious, and wished to avoid, as much as possible, any act that might increase it. 1777.
The people at large are governed much by custom. To acts of legislation or civil authority they have ever been taught to yield a willing obedience, without reasoning about their propriety; on those of Military Power, whether immediate, or derived originally from another source, they have ever looked with a jealous and suspicious eye.
Extensive powers, not exercised as far as was neces
sary, have, I believe, scarcely ever failed to ruin the possessor.
I conceive it to be a right, inherent in command, to appoint particular officers for special purposes.
I beg, that you will be particularly careful, in seeing strict order observed among the soldiers. as that is the life of military discipline.
Do we not know, that every nation under the sun finds its account therein, and that, without it, no order or regularity can be observed? Why, then, should it be expected from us, who are all young and inexperienced, to govern and keep up a proper spirit of discipline, without laws, when the best and most experienced can scarcely do it with them? If we consult our interest, I am sure it loudly calls for them. 1755.
One circumstance in this important business ought to be cautiously guarded against; and that is, the Soldiers and Officers being too nearly on a level.
Discipline and Subordination add life and vigor to military movements.
The person commanded yields but a reluctant obedience, to those who, he conceives, are undeservedly made his superiors. The degrees of rank are frequently transferred from civil life into the departments of the army. The true criterion to judge by, when past services do not enter into the competition, is, to consider whether the candidate for office has a just pretension to the character of a gentleman, a proper sense of honor, and some reputation to lose.
A refusal to obey the commands of a superior officer, especially where the duty required was evidently calculated for the good of the service, cannot be justified, without involving consequences subversive of all military discipline. A precedent, manifestly too dangerous, would be established, of dispensing with orders, and subordination would be at an end, if men's ideas were not rectified in a case of this kind, and such notice taken, as has been, on my part.
IMPRUDENT CONVERSATION OF OFFICERS.
The custom, which many Officers have, of speaking freely of things, and reprobating measures, which, upon investigation, may be found to be unavoidable, is never productive of good, but often of very mischievous consequences.
When we consider, that the Pennsylvania levies who have now mutinied, are Recruits and Soldiers of a Day, who have not borne the heat and burden of the and who can have, in reality, very few hardships to complain of; and when we at the same time recollect, that those soldiers who have lately been furloughed from this army are the Veterans, who have patiently endured hunger, nakedness, and cold, who have suffered and bled without a murmur, and who, with perfect good order, have retired to their homes without a settlement of their accounts, or a farthing of money in their pockets; we shall be as much astonished at the virtues of the latter, as we are struck with horror and detestation at the proceedings of the former; and every candid mind, without indulging ill-grounded prejudices, will undoubtedly make the proper discrimination.
THE WESTERN INSURRECTION.
I exhort all individuals, officers, and bodies of men, to contemplate with abhorrence the measures leading, directly or indirectly, to those crimes which produce
* Combinations against the Constitution and laws of the United States, in the western counties of Pennsylvania, from opposition to duties upon spirits distilled within the United States, and upon stills.