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Wheaton, Joseph (1755-1828) [Letter to officers defending himself against accusations]

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Gilder Lehrman Collection #: GLC02437.02204 Author/Creator: Wheaton, Joseph (1755-1828) Place Written: s.l. Type: Autograph letter signed Date: 30 June 1783 Pagination: 27 p. ; 33 x 20.3 cm.

Written by Lieutenant Wheaton of the Rhode Island Battalion. Long letter describing his service in the army and denouncing the accusations made in "envy" against him. Says he has been in the army close to eight years and has not seen his family. Says the accusations stem from events in August 1782 when he was left in command of 2 companies and the garrison at Saratoga, New York. Says that a Lt. Pratt sent him "insulting and mutinous answers" to an order for him to sign the morning reports and attend to the duties of commanding officer. Claims he did nothing until General Baron Von Steuben returned from a tour of Canada, when he then reported the incident. Von Steuben approved of Wheaton's actions and wanted a court martial proceeding begun. But Wheaton said he felt that was too harsh and that Pratt should not be discharged for a lapse of judgment, so he interceded with Von Steuben and Pratt was let off after admitting his mistake. Says that Pratt was later influenced by other officers that "I [Wheaton] am in the wrong and thereby induced to prosecute[,] irritate[,] and wound me." Goes into great detail about further accusations. Mentions that when he eventually went to New York, his parents were gone to England and Nova Scotia. When in New York he made purchases of clothing for his unit that were later problematic. Goes on to describe how three illiterate men, including a black drummer named Thomas Brown, were used by Pratt to further the accusations against him. Complains of soldiers who drank on parade. Makes a reference to Lord Stirling looking into these matters on page 21, but that he ultimately did nothing. Would like satisfaction because "I have laid in the field like a horse or an Ox, I plunged through frost & snow in its services, I have been worn down almost to death with fatigue and hunger, and eat the Mockasons from off my feet to satisfy the pleadings of Nature, and this for a Country in which I have neither Intrest nor friends." Date added later in pencil.

Joseph Wheaton was an elected United States House of Representatives officer from 1789 to 1809. He served as the House Sergeant at Arms for the First, through Tenth United States Congresses. During the War of 1812 he served in office of the Quartermaster General.

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