I'm trying to pin down the details of something which I believe once happened to George Washington, before the end of the American War of Independence. Back around the late 1980s, I was reading a book I'd found in a library. It was talking about the political system of the United States of America.
According to the author, as filtered through my imperfect memory, once upon a time the following sequence of events occurred:
It was sometime during the Revolutionary War. General George Washington had already been appointed Commander-in-Chief of the rebel forces.
A regiment (I think) of volunteers turned up at Washington's current field headquarters, wherever that was. The commanding officer of this newly-formed unit introduced himself to General Washington, and stated that he and his men were here to follow Washington's orders in the struggle to break free of the British Empire.
Washington said something along the following lines: "Thank you, Colonel. Now, please have all your men prepare to swear an oath of loyalty and obedience to the Continental Congress."
The colonel said something along the following lines: "I am sorry, General, but I cannot do that. Every man in my regiment has already sworn an oath of loyalty and obedience to the sovereign state of Maryland!"
The unspoken implication was approximately this: "My men and I will follow your orders, General, because our legislature has chosen to join in this Revolution, and it recently voted to send us here to fight under your command. Until further notice! If word comes to us, a month from now, that the legislature has reconsidered, then it will become our sworn duty to pack up our things and march home, no matter how you or the Continental Congress may feel about losing our services so abruptly!"
As I recall, the author was citing this early example of friction between "loyalty to your home state" and "loyalty to a Congress representing many states" in order to illustrate a general point about how the question of where to draw the line between "broad federal authority" and "states' rights" was already a knotty problem in American politics long before the events that triggered the Civil War.
In recent years, I have occasionally Googled, trying to pin down just when this happened. I have not been successful. You should bear in mind that I am not quite certain that it was a "regiment" that showed up on Washington's doorstep, nor that these volunteer soldiers were from the state of Maryland (as opposed to Delaware or some other state). I just think I remember it being "a colonel commanding a regiment from Maryland" who absolutely refused to swear an oath to obey the Continental Congress . . . but after 30 years or thereabouts, my memory may be very blurred!
Does anyone recognize this anecdote? Can you tell me if it really happened, and if so, where I can learn more about the details of that incident? (For instance, the author of the book, near as I can recall, did not inform his readers of precisely what Washington ended up doing about this troublesome situation after the colonel had explained his position. I've always wondered!)