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King’s Order settling rank and command

November 12, 2015 all-day


The king’s order of 12 Nov. 1754 for settling questions of rank and command between regular and provincial officers apparently reached Virginia with Braddock’s quartermaster, Sir John St. Clair, on 9 Jan. 1755.


Although somewhat confused in wording, it clearly confirmed most of the apprehensions about rank that had plagued GW during the past year. Under no circumstances could he as a Virginia colonel, even if he should regain that position with full powers, be on an absolutely equal footing with any regular colonel, lieutenant colonel, or major.


General and field officers commissioned by colonial officials, the king declared, “shall have no rank with” the general and field officers bearing his commission, and all regular captains, lieutenants, and ensigns “are . . . to command and take Post of . . . Provincial Officers of like Rank” when serving with them on detachments, court martials, and other assignments.


No particular mention was made of the relationship of provincial general and field officers to regular company officers, apparently because it was presumed that the senior colonial officers would “only have the Inspection, & Direction, of their Provincial Corps” (“Sketch of Regulations & Orders,” Nov. 1754 in Pargellis, Military Affairs in North America description begins Stanley Pargellis, ed. Military Affairs in North America, 1748–1765: Selected Documents from the Cumberland Papers in Windsor Castle. 1936. Reprint. Hamden, Conn., 1969. description ends , 36).


A printed copy of the king’s order on rank, endorsed by GW, is in DLC:GW, but it is not known when or how GW obtained it.



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