George Washington Papers

To George Washington from John Martin, 30 August 1755

From John Martin

30 Augt 1755


The Under Sherif of this County Carries Down three Deserters which were taken up here and as they are of our Brave Blues,1 I most Earnestly Intreat your Interest in Procuring a Pardon for them. Smith has a Sweetheart & 2 Children here & Barker a Wife which I Presume were the Loadstones that Attracted them. Permit me now Sir to Congratulate on Your Late Escape & the Immortal Honr you have Gain’d on the Banks of Ohio & in the most Glorious of Causes the Defense of your Country, and to Beg the Favour of your Company & any friends if You return this Way.2 I live within two Small miles of King Wm. Cthouse & there you may be directed to Sr Your very obedt & very Hbl. Servt

John Martin

Since Writing the above two have broke Prison & run off & Smith Carried3


John Martin (d. 1756), who qualified as an attorney before the Caroline County court 10 Nov. 1738, began practicing law in King William County by 1745 and served as a King William burgess 1752–56.

1The Virginia troops under Braddock wore the standard provincial uniform of blue coats with red facings and blue breeches. Chesterfield burgess John Bolling wrote his son Robert in England 13 Aug. 1755 that as Braddock lay wounded on the battlefield, “he woud cry out my dear Blue’s (which was the Colrs the Virginians wore) give em tother Fire, you Fight like Men, & will die like Shouldiers; he lived from Wednesday to Sunday after, & during that time coud not bare the sight of a red Coat, whenever one came in his View, he raved imoderately, but when one of the blues, he said he hop’d to live to reward ’em” (Schutz, “Report of Braddock’s Defeat,” description begins John A. Schutz, ed. “A Private Report of General Braddock’s Defeat.” Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography 79 (1955): 374–77. description ends 376–77). Bolling’s story cannot be corroborated, but clearly pride in the Virginia “blues” was widespread in the colony.

2GW left Williamsburg on 3 Sept. 1755. Taking his usual route north, he stopped at Thomas Dansie’s ordinary on the Pamunkey River that night and the next day reached Todd’s Bridge on the Mattaponi apparently by way of King William Courthouse. There is no record of his visiting John Martin, however.

3This postscript is illegible in the manuscript and is taken from Hamilton, Letters to Washington description begins Stanislaus Murray Hamilton, ed. Letters to Washington and Accompanying Papers. 5 vols. Boston and New York, 1898–1902. description ends , 1:84–85. Hamilton indicated that the word or words after “carried” had been obliterated. Barker’s and Smith’s fates are unknown. Gov. Robert Dinwiddie advertised in the Virginia Gazette (Williamsburg) on 5 Sept. 1755 an offer to pardon any of the colony’s numerous deserters who returned to duty by 20 Sept., but few accepted.

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