To the Officers of the Virginia Regiment
To Captain Robert Steward and Gentlemen Officers of the Virginia Regiment.1
My dear Gentlemen.New Kent County 10th Janry 1759
If I had words that could express the deep sense I entertain of your most obliging & affectionate address to me, I should endeavour to shew you that gratitude is not the smallest engredient of a character you have been pleased to celebrate; rather, give me leave to add, as the effect of your partiality & politeness, than of my deserving.
That I have for some years (under uncommon difficulties, which few were thoroughly acquainted with)2 been able to conduct myself so much to your satisfaction, affords ⟨me⟩ the greatest pleasure I am capable of feeling; as I almost despared of attaining that end—so hard a matter is it to please, when one is acting under disagreeable restraints! But your having, nevertheless, so fully, so affectionately & so publicly declared your approbation of my conduct, during my command of the Virginia Troops, I must esteem an honor that will constitute the greatest happiness of my life, and afford in my latest hours the most pleasing reflections. I had nothing to boast, but a steady honesty—this I made the invariable rule of my actions; and I find my reward in it.
I am bound, Gentlemen, in honor, by inclination & by every affectionate tye, to promote the reputation & interest of a Corps I was once a member of; though the Fates have disjoined me from it now, I beseech you to command, with equal confidence & a greater degree of freedom than ever, my best services. Your Address is in the hands of the Governor, and will be presented by him to the Council.3 I hope (but cannot ascertain it) that matters may be settled agreeable to your wishes. On me, depend for my best endeavours to accomplish this end.
I should dwell longer on this subject, and be more particular in my answer, did your address lye before me. Permit me then to conclude with the following acknowledgments: first, that I always thought it, as it really was, the greatest honor of my life to command Gentlemen, who made me happy in their company & easy by their conduct: secondly, that had every thing contributed as fully as your obliging endeavours did to render me satisfied, I never should have been otherwise, or have had cause to know the pangs I have felt at parting with a Regiment, that has shared my toils, and experienced every hardship & danger, which I have encountered. But this brings on reflections that fill me with grief & I must strive to forget them; in thanking you, Gentlemen, with uncommon sincerity & true affection for the honor you have done me—for if I have acquired any reputation, it is from you I derive it. I thank you also for the love & regard you have all along shewn me. It is in this, I am rewarded. It is herein I glory. And lastly I must thank you for your kind wishes. To assure you, that I feel every generous return of mutual regard—that I wish you every honor as a collective Body & every felicity in your private Characters, is, Gentlemen, I hope unnecessary—Shew me how I can demonstrate it, and you never shall find me otherwise than your Most obedient, most obliged and most affectionate
Copy, David Humphreys’ biographical sketch of GW, c.August 1786, PPRF. For a description of Humphreys’ sketch, see Papers, Colonial Series description begins W. W. Abbot et al., eds. The Papers of George Washington, Colonial Series. 10 vols. Charlottesville, Va., 1983–95. description ends , 1:173.
1. It is not known what day GW received the Address from the Officers of the Virginia Regiment, 31 Dec. 1758, to which this is a response.
2. Presumably the “uncommon difficulties” were his sometimes strained relations with Gov. Robert Dinwiddie and his disagreements during the past summer with Bouquet and Forbes about the road that the army should take to Fort Duquesne.
3. In the minutes of the next meeting of the council there is no reference to an address from the Virginia Regiment. In the officers’ address of 31 Dec. to GW there is no indication that they wished GW to present that address, or any other, to the governor or council. See, however, Robert Stewart’s reference to “advertisemints” enclosed in his letter of 29 Dec. 1758.