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Attachment of Pay for a Discharged Soldier

Sources & Images
Source Name Image(s)
CollectionHuntington Library: James McHenry Papers view image
Document Information
Date May 30, 1796
Author Name Charles Lee (primary) Location: Philadelphia
Recipient Name James McHenry (primary)
Summary The attorney general is writing to McHenry with regard to a case of a soldier who used his pay arrearage as a guarantee. Lee is attempting to clarifying what the paymaster's responsibilities are in such a situation. Lee feels that a discharged soldier can, while one in service cannot.
Document Format Autograph Letter Signed
Document Notes [not available]
Content Notes [not available]
Related Persons/Groups James McHenry; Charles Lee; Constant Freeman; Captain Armstrong; soldier; Deputy Paymaster; ;
Related Places Philadelphia;
Keywords arrears; An Act Making Alterations in the Treasury and War Departments; attachment; debt; suit; discharged; lawsuit; ;
Key Phrases [not available]

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Philadelphia 30th 1796

The Attorney General understands by the letter of Constant Freeman bearing date the 6th december 1795 that Capt. Armstrong made advances of necessaries to a Soldier in the army of the United States while in actual service who has since been regularly discharged and who has certain arrears of pay in the hands of the deputy paymaster which have been by legal process attached by Capt Armstrong for the purpose of satisfying the debt so contracted and remaining due by the soldier to him. Can this suit be maintained or not is the question propounded and in what manner is the Deputy paymaster in cases of this sort to act, appear to be the questions arising out of the case.

The attorney general is of opinion that Capt Armstrong may attach by process from a count of equity the arrears of pay due to a discharged soldier in the hands of the paymaster of the army to satisfy his claim if it be just. A soldier in service cannot assign his pay but when discharged he may assign his arrears of pay - So the 4th. Section of the act entitled "an act making alterations in the Treasury and War departments["] has been and is to be understood. If indeed the arrears of
pay due to a discharged soldier were not assignable either in law or equity, there would be some ground for an opinion that they could not be attached in equity. The contrary however has been determined - 2 Black. reports 1137 -

When the justice of the claim shall be established either by the agreement of the debtor and creditor, or by the sentence of a competent court the paymaster after deducting the amount of the costs of suit if any shall have occurred out of the arrears of pay in his hands, is to pay the balance according to the direction of the proprietor or of the court - The paymaster is not liable to costs for standing suit but they are payable out of the attached effects in the first instance, for without an order of the proprietor or the sentence of the court he would not be warranted in paying those arrears to any individual.

Charles Lee

Attorney General

To the Secretary at War -