Richard Montgomery's background as a professional soldier recommended him for a commission and the New York Provincial Congress did so for the rank of Brigadier General on 7 June 1775, the Continental Congress accepting that nomination on 22 June. Montgomery was reluctant to serve — his wife Janet Livingston was terrified — and as he wrote to Robert Livingston "The Continental Congress have done me the melancholy honour of appointing me a brigadier. I am most truly at the public service, but could have wished to have served in a private capacity" (quoted in Shelton, p. 67).
The haphazard method Congress used in the commissioning process, based more on popularity than experience, led to Montgomery's appointment in the second rank. The New York delegate James Duane (1733–1797) wrote to Montgomery (21 July 1775, Letters of Delegates, 1:641-642) to explain why he remained in the second rank even though there had been an opening in the first. The present letter is Montgomery's modest and melancholy response to Duane: "I have been favoured with your letter of 21st Inst. My acknowledgements are due for the attention shewn me by the Congress. I submit with great chearfulness to any regulation they in their prudence shall judge expedient — laying aside the punctilio of the Soldier, I shall endeavour to discharge my duty to Society considering myself only as the Citizen reduced to the melancholy necessity of taking up arms for the publick safety." By the end of the year he was killed in action.
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