George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Fairfax Independent Company, 19 October 1774

From Fairfax Independent Company

Alexandria Octr 19th 1774


In compliance with an order made at a meeting of forty nine subscribers of the Fairfax Independant Company, we take the Liberty to request, (if it does not interfere with the more important business you are engaged in) that you will please to make some enquiries with regard to the furnishing the company with a pair of Colours, two Drums, two Fifes, and two Halberts, if they are to be had in Philadelphia; which may be sent round by the first Vessel for Alexandria.

We leave it to you, Sir, to determine whether it may be proper or necessary to vary from the usual Colours that are carried by the Regulars or Militia. We are Sir with the greatest respect yr most Obedt hble Servts

Wm Rumney

Rob. H: Harrison

John Fitzgerald

LS, in the hand of William Rumney, DLC:GW. The letter is addressed to GW “now in Philadelphia.”

For reference to the independent companies of volunteers formed in a number of Virginia counties in late 1774 and early 1775, see GW to the Officers of Five Virginia Independent Companies, 20 June 1775, source note.

At a meeting at the courthouse on 21 Sept. 1774 Fairfax County “Gentlemen & Freeholders,” George Mason chairman, formed a Fairfax militia association. “In this Time of extreme Danger, with the Indian Enemy in our Country, and threat’ned with the Destruction of our Civil-rights, & Liberty, and all that is dear to British Subjects & Freemen; we the Subscribers, taking into our serious consideration the present alarming Situation of all the British Colonies upon this Continent as well as our own, being sensible of the Expediency of putting the Militia of this Colony upon a more respectable Footing, & hoping to excite others by our Example.... That we will form ourselves into a Company, not exceeding one hundred Men, by the Name of The Fairfax independant Company of Voluntiers.” The officers were to be chosen by a majority of the members, and they were to meet to learn and practice “military Exercise & Discipline.” Uniforms were to be blue “turn’d up with Buff; with plain yellow metal Buttons, Buff Waist Coat & Breeches, & white Stockings; and furnished with a good Fire-lock & Bayonet, Sling Cartouch-Box, and Tomahawk. And that we will, each of us, constantly keep by us a Stock of six pounds of Gunpowder, twenty pounds of Lead, and fifty Gun-flints, at the least.” The volunteers swore to “always hold ourselves in Readiness, in Case of Necessity, hostile Invasion, or real Danger of the Community of which we are Members, to defend to the utmost of our Power, the legal prerogatives of our Sovereign King George the third, and the just Rights & Privileges of our Country, our Posterity & ourselves upon the Principles of the British Constitution” (Rutland, Mason Papers description begins Robert A. Rutland, ed. The Papers of George Mason, 1725–1792. 3 vols. Chapel Hill, N.C., 1970. description ends , 1:210–12). This blue and buff uniform chosen for the Fairfax Independent Company was almost certainly the uniform GW wore at the Second Continental Congress when he was chosen commander-in-chief of the American forces. Lund Washington’s account of the work done by GW’s indentured tailor Andrew Judge indicates that in November 1774 Judge made “1 Suite Regimentals” for GW. The following month he also made regimentals for Lund Washington and John Parke Custis (Lund Washington’s Mount Vernon account book, 1772–86, f. 32, ViMtvL).

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