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Nicola, Lewis (1717-1807) to Henry Knox

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Gilder Lehrman Collection #: GLC02437.01702 Author/Creator: Nicola, Lewis (1717-1807) Place Written: Fishkill, New York Type: Autograph letter signed Date: 6 November 1782 Pagination: 3 p. : docket ; 23.3 x 17.9 cm.

Summary of Content: Written by Colonel Nicola of the Invalid Regiment to Major General Knox. Was disappointed he could not meet up with Knox at West Point last Monday. Expresses his consternation about the reduction of his Invalid regiment by Congress and the Secretary of War. Claims that the authorities say "the men & officers were a great expence to the States, & from whose services there was little benefit derived." The men and officers are to be examined to discover their situations -- when it will be decided if they are to be discharged with a pension or without one and if they are return to the field or the hospital. Says the officers will either get half-pay starting 1 January or something more, depending on their merits and service. Is disappointed he will not be able to spend the winter under Knox's command. Is disappointed in the reason for discharging the regiment saying "Invalids are maintained by the publick not for services to be performed but for those that have been rendered." Hopes that those that can return to garrison duty will be given that opportunity. Claims that saying the public has not benefited from the Invalids is a comment based on misinformation. Goes into some of the hardships they endured in the war. Encloses a Philadelphia newspaper that talks of "a new scheme for the post office" (not included here).

Background Information: Nicola is famous for his letter sent to George Washington on 22 May 1782 -- complaining of Congress's inability to keep the army supplied and funded and suggesting that a monarchy be ...established. See More

Full Transcript: [draft]
Fishkill 6th Novemr 1782

I was much disappointed at not having the pleasure of meeting you on the Point last monday, I requested Capt Lilly [inserted: to inform ...you] of the strong desire I had to be on the Point & the difficulties that occurred, at the same time I communicated a letter Capt [Hill] had recd from Lt Honeyman mentioning an intended reduction of the whole reg, which I found concerned by the following paragraph of a letter from Cap.t M.c Connel.
"The minister of war showed me the copy of a letter he wrote yesterday to Congress recommending [inserted: in] the most earnest terms the reduction of the whole [orgn]. - The plan, as near as I can recollect, is as follows. After first setting forth that from unavoidable circumstances the establishment did not answer the benevolent & beneficial purposes at first proposed by Congress, that the men & officers wore a great expence [sic] to the States, & from whose services there was little benefit desired, & the corps not so comfortably [subsisted] as could be wished or was at first intended, therefore that Congress should cause the regiment [inserted: officers] & men to be examined with the strictest scrutiny, to know each mans situation [2] both now & when he entered the regt. and the men should either be discharged with a pension or without, return to the field or hospital; the officers either to retire on half pay the first of January, or receive something more, as the nature of the case might be, respect being had to their merits, length of service, inability [&c].
As I have no doubt of Congress's complying with the generals proposal I look on all the satisfaction I proposed by spending the winter, at least, under your command at the Point vanished into smoak [sic]. I wish the minister of war had assigned other [strikeout] [inserted: motives] for the reduction of the reg.t for the following reasons; but, as every [inserted: person] cannot patiently submit to have his doing enticed, I request this may be only between us. Invalids are mentained [sic] by the publick [inserted: not] for services to be performed but for those that have been rendered, [&] as I was materially concerned in promoting the scheme I can affirm this was the motive that induced the then board of war to recommend it to congress. The publick has an undoubted right to the services of the persons it mentions, therefore such officers & men as [inserted: are incapacitated] for field but capable of garrison duty are usually so employed.
That the publick has little benefited by the services of the corps is an assertion founded on misinformation for I can with justice declare that it has done more duty, siting [sic] & marching excepted, than any other, for in upwards of four years the men have been above [three] on duty every second day, often half naked in the severest weather, & frequently half starved, at one period , in Philadelphia, they were between twenty & thirty days living on bread & water, they have like wise been very often employed on fatigues & sometimes on commands, duties never before required of Invalids. A reform of the corps was requisite because its original plan was not adhered to, many improper subjects being admitted, but humanity obliged the board of war to take this step, because the States refused or neglected to provide for the most desirable objects, many of whom begged about the streets of Philadelphia, but this reform in a great measure took place last september.
I spoke to Mr. [Loadon] about sending your letters [strikeout] to the Point, he told me the mode lately laid down could no longer take place as the post now passed through clove, while we exist as corps I shall send a man ever thursday
Inclosed is a Philadelphia paper [strikeout] a new scheme for the post office, the ignorance or inattention of some acquaintance in Philadelphia [put me] to 17/8 pence expence by putting one letter under a cover & inclosing the news paper in another
Do me the justice to believe that the civilities I have recd at your hands will be firmly rooted in my memo, with my [comps.] to Mrs. Knox permit are to assure you that I am with respect
S.r Your most obed. Servt
Lewis Nicola Col. Inv
from Colonel Nichola
[6] Nov 1782
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Historical Era: American Revolution, 1763-1783

Subjects: Revolutionary WarRevolutionary War GeneralImmigration and MigrationWest Point (US Military Academy)Continental ArmyContinental CongressCongressFinanceSoldier's PayPensionsHospitalHealth and MedicalJournalismPost Office

Sub Era: The War for Independence

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