George Washington Papers

To George Washington from William Preston, 27 January 1775

From William Preston

Jany 27th 1775

Dear Sir

Your Letter of the 26th Decr came to Hand yesterday.1 I have inclosed a Certificate of the Survey made by Mr Floyd at the Mouth of Cole River.2 But as the Members for this County set off two Days ago I shall not have an opportunity of sending this till Colo. Fleming goes down which I hear will be some time in February. I understand that worthy Gentleman intends to make Application to Your House for some Yearly Allowance from the Country for his being disabled in it’s Service; I would fain hope the same Notice will be taken of his Merit that has been <to m>any other Officers who were Wounded in the Service of the Country on <former> Occasions.3

There is no doubt but the Expence of the late Expedition, & the forces <emplo>yed for the Protection of the Frontiers will be very great. But as the <F>rontiers were in a great Measure defended & the Enemy Subdued there is reason to hope not only the Peace will be lasting, but that the Expence will be paid with the greater Cheerfulness; and the rather as the Men engaged in the Service with uncommon Ardour, depending wholly on the Publick Faith, as there was no Money in hand for defraying any part of the Charge or given as encouragement to men to inlist. The former well-known Justice and Generosity of the Assembly, together with the Safety of the Country from our old inveterate Enemies appeared to me to be the only Motives which induc’d the Men to engage so readily in the service.4 I am Dr Sir with great Esteem your most Obedt Servt

Wm Preston

ALS, DLC:GW. The letter is sent “per Favr of Colo. Fleming,” but see Preston to GW, 31 January. The words and letters in angle brackets are 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 , 5:88–89.

1Letter not found.

2See Preston to GW, 27 May 1774, n.1. The certificate has not been found.

3William Fleming’s petition, which was read in the House of Burgesses on 7 June 1775, set forth: “that in the Year 1755, the Petitioner entered into the Service of this Colony, and continued therein until the end of the War, in 1763, when the Virginia Regiment was disbanded, after which he supported himself and his Family, by the Practice of Surgery, until he was called out on duty the last year, under the command of Colonel Andrew Lewis, lieutenant of the said County, and marched with the Troops there raised against the Indian Enemy on the frontiers where in an engagement, the tenth day of October, the Petitioner was wounded in the Breast and left Arm, so that he is unable to exercise his profession of a Surgeon; and therefore praying the House to take his Case into Consideration, and grant him relief” (JHB, 1773–76 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 , 202). Fleming, who was gravely wounded and not expected to live, indeed made a miraculous recovery. In an undated letter to William Bowyer he wrote: “I receivd three balls in the left Line two struck my left arm below the Elbow broke both the bones, & I find one of them is lodged in my arm. a third entered my breast about three Inches below my left Nipple and is lodged some where in the Chest. on finding my self effectually disabled I quitted the Field. when I came to be drest, I found my Lungs forced through the wound in my breast, as long as one of my fingars. Watkins Attempted to reduce them ineffectually. he got some part returnd but not the whole. being in considerable pain<,> some time afterwards, I got the whole returnd by the Assistance of one of my Own Attendants. since which I thank the Almighty I have been in a surprizing state of ease. Nor did I ever know such daingerous wounds<,> Attended with so little inconvenience, and yet the wounds in my Arm are in a bad condition. they do not digest & run but very little. what will be the consequence as yet I know not” (WHi: Draper Manuscripts, Virginia Series). After considerable debate the House voted on 13 June to pay Fleming £500 “as a recompence for his gallant behaviour, and the Wounds he received in defence of this Colony” (ibid., 222). The acts of this assembly, of course, never received the approval of the royal governor, Lord Dunmore, who took refuge on a British warship on 8 June.

4On 19 June the House of Burgesses passed a bill entitled: “An Ordinance for appointing commissioners to settle the accounts of the militia lately drawn out into actual service, and for making provision to pay the same as well as the expense of raising and providing for the forces and minute-men directed to be embodied for the defence of this colony” (ibid., 253; 9 Hening description begins William Waller Hening, ed. The Statutes at Large; Being a Collection of All the Laws of Virginia, from the First Session of the Legislature, in the Year 1619. 13 vols. 1819–23. Reprint. Charlottesville, Va., 1969. description ends 61–71).

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