George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Robert Stewart, 14 December 1762

From Robert Stewart

Lewis’s Plantation Decemr 14th 1762

My Dear Collo.

I a few days ago had the pleasure to receive your obliging favour from Hoe’s Ferry and am under the greatest concern for the return of your Ladys Indisposition, I would fain hope that the skill of the Faculty, your return and the excellent Weather will effect her recovery and perfectly re establish her Health an accot of which would afford me immense Joy1—After rect of yours I lost no Time in endeavouring to procure some of the Disbanded Soldiers to undertake your work in the manner you mention but so intoxicated were they with their temporary Liberty and the enjoyment of a few Shillings they had just recd & which they were squandering in riot and Drunkenness that they were quite deaff to all proposals of that nature Mr Lewis whose Plantation is within 1½ Mile of the Ground on which we were encamp’t2 could not for double Price prevail upon any of them to get a few Rails of which he was in great want, they swore they would not strike a stroke for any man till they should partake of the Christmass Frolicks, and then perhaps some of them would call upon you, however I with some difficulty prevaild upon the Bearer Allen (who has been at Redstone Creek ever since Campaign 59) to wait upon you, in order to view the Ground in your Garden and propose the Terms upon wch he will Serve you in Quality of Gardr But with this Preliminary article of not Settling till after the approaching Holy days.3

I yesterday Evening by Mr Posey recd your extreme kind favour from Williamsburgh4 and am really at loss for words to convey adequate Ideas of that pure Regard & genuine Gratitude your firm and uninterrupted Goodness has indelibly impress’d in my heart which is replete and will ever flow with the warmest Sentiments of the most exalted Esteem for you my best of Friends & dearest of acquaintances, Your own Letter is drest in that Stile and exhibits that ease candour and energy that clearly evinces it’s proceeding immediately from the heart and is perfectly adapted to answ⟨er⟩ the Intention in the most efficacious manner—There are two Expressions in the Governs. which I apprehend must take of the force and in a great measure destroy the end of a Recommendation But as you Justly observe the Peace which will probably be concluded before I can make use of it will render every effort of this Nature ineffectual.5

You no doubt have heard that the Assembly has given each Feild Officer £100—each Capt. 75 & each Sub: £50 for the Expence they were at in Feild Equipage & given all Six Months Pay—that they are to address the Throne in our Behalf & to grant a Sum to defray the Expence of the Officers that may be appointed to present the address.6 Public rewards of Military Services conferr’d in so ingenteel a manner must in future wars be productive of the most happy consequences—I am told that B——t according to his wonted modesty deems himself a proper person to present the address7—for my part tho’ I had previously determin’d on going home, yet a conscious inability of conducting myself with that propriety and address the representative of a Corps should display deterr’d me from dropping the most distant hint even to my greatest Intimates in the Regimt8—So many favourable Circumstances must concur to attract the notice of the Great so many difficulties to be encounter’d which I fear a Peace will make quite insuperable and have no glimmering Ray of hope for getting any thing done for the whole—Major McNeill is daily expected with the Cash whenever he arrives I will set out for Head Quarters & will soon be able to determine whether I shall continue a Soldier or recommence Mohair,9 in the Event of a Peace, I think the latter will be the most eligible as then in the Military way even hope the unfortunate’s last comfort will be cut off—I beleive I need not say with how much reluctance I must leave the Country without enjoying even a single hour’s Conversation with him I of all others esteem the most[.] to prevent this misfortune, I as long as I possibly could carefully avoided going to Fredericksbg at length Colo. S[tephen]s illness at disbanding of the Regt indispensably requir’d my going over 2 or 3 Times therefore would not run the most distant risque of a mere possibility of conveying the Infection to any of that Family whose happiness will ever be dear to me10—God knows my dear Colo. if ever we shall meet again but this I am absolutely certain off that the longest absence will not diminish that pure Affection & superlative regard I have for you & I am too well acquainted with the warmth of your Heart & the sincerity of your Friendship to imagine that the one can ever cool or the other abate—May Heaven Bless you & Mrs Washington with Health & everything else you desire or may be necessary in completing yr Felicity an accot of wch especially from yourself will always an essential part of his who will ever remain with Supreme Esteem My Dear Sir Your Truely Affecte Gratefull & mo: Obliged Servt.

Robert Stewart

this Paper is so greacy that I fear you will hardly make out what is wrote on it.


1GW returned to Mount Vernon from Williamsburg on 1 Dec. and must have taken the Maryland route back, crossing the Potomac on Hooe’s ferry from Lower Cedar Point in Charles County, Md., to Mathias Point downriver from Mount Vernon. GW’s letter has not been found.

2Presumably this was the “Lewis’s Plantation” from which he was writing. “Mr Lewis” was either Fielding Lewis or another of the Lewises who lived in the area.

3GW had been trying to find a gardener for Mount Vernon among the soldiers in the Virginia Regiment for some time. Stewart wrote GW about Allen (Allan) twice in 1760, on 14 May and 3 June. Allen may be Francis Allan, a 47–year-old English “farmer” who enlisted in Culpeper in 1755 (Muster Role of Thomas Cocke’s Company, 13 July 1756, DLC:GW).

4GW arrived in Williamsburg to attend the meeting of the Virginia assembly on 15 Nov. and left before the end of the month. John Posey, who petitioned the House of Burgesses for back pay and for payment for recruiting accounts owed him from his days as a captain in the 1st and 2d Virginia regiments, was undoubtedly in Williamsburg while GW was there. See JHB, 1761–1765 description begins H. R. McIlwaine and John Pendleton Kennedy, eds. Journals of the House of Burgesses of Virginia. 13 vols. Richmond, 1905–15. description ends , 101, 109–10, 134–35, and 141–42.

5The letters written by Governor Fauquier and GW, neither of which can be found, undoubtedly are those that Stewart asked for in his letter to GW of 5 Nov. 1762.

6A memorial from the officers of the Virginia Regiment who had returned to the service when the regiment was reconstituted in the spring of 1762 after a very brief hiatus was read by the House of Burgesses on 2 Dec. 1762 after the regiment was ordered disbanded a second time. The officers summarized their case for the assembly to give them relief in the following paragraph: “During the long, tedious, and disagreeable Service, your Memorialists have been engaged in for the Defence of this Country, the many Toils and Dangers they have encountered, in which they have spent the most precious Part of their Lives, and have really so much impaired that inestimable Blessing, their Health, while they were employed to procure their Country Safety, Peace, Ease and Tranquility, that many of them are so far from a Probability of acquiring a decent Subsistence that they are threatened with a near Prospect of approaching Poverty and Want, which must subject them to such Contempt as will damp the Growth of publick Spirit and military Virtues” (JHB, 1761–1765 description begins H. R. McIlwaine and John Pendleton Kennedy, eds. Journals of the House of Burgesses of Virginia. 13 vols. Richmond, 1905–15. description ends , 124–25). The burgesses’ resolution of 7 Dec. setting these amounts to be paid to the regimental officers contains no references to defraying the expenses of those who might take the address to the king (ibid., 137). See the Petition to the King for the Virginia Regiment, c.11 March–10 July 1762.

7“B——t” is Thomas Bullitt who began his career with the Virginia forces in 1754 as a cadet and joined GW just after the surrender at Fort Necessity. Bullitt currently held the rank of captain. For earlier aspersions on his modesty and bravery, see Stewart to GW, 28 Sept. 1759, and George Mercer to GW, 16 Sept. 1759 and 17 Feb. 1760.

8In his letter of 5 Nov. to GW, Stewart suggested the possibility of his going to London to promote the interests of the regiment and of himself.

9“Mohair” was a soldier’s slang term for civilians, derived from the mohair buttons worn by townsmen and others. Soldiers’ buttons were always metal.

10The “infection” he was afraid of spreading to Mount Vernon was smallpox. See Stewart to GW, 5 Nov. 1762, n.1.

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