George Washington Papers

From George Washington to Lieutenant Colonel Gunning Bedford, 9 January 1777

To Lieutenant Colonel Gunning Bedford

Head Quarters Morris Town 9th Jany 1777


Colo. Haslet having been unfortunately killed in the late Engagement at princetown,1 and the Congress having invested me with powers to fill up Vacancies, I am ready to confer the command of the 1st Delaware Battn upon you, if you determine to continue in the Service. I am also desirous of promoting Major McDonnaugh to the rank of lieutent Colonel in the same Regiment.2 As the Majority will become vacant by this Step I will leave the recommendation of a proper person to fill that office to you and him, as also what other Vacancies may be in the Regiment.

If you accept my Offer, I beg I may hear from you immediately, and that you would set about collecting Returns from the Officers who are recruiting of the Number of Men they have inlisted. I have understood that many of Colo. Patersons flying Camp Men inlisted with you, upon terms of going home to see their freinds, if so, it is time that they should be collected and hastened forward into Service.3 I am Sir Yrs &c.

Df, in Tench Tilghman’s writing, DLC:GW; Varick transcript, DLC:GW.

Gunning Bedford (1742–1797) of New Castle, Del., served as a major in the Delaware militia from March 1775 until his appointment as lieutenant colonel of the Delaware Continental Regiment on 19 Jan. 1776 (see Delaware Archives description begins Delaware Archives. 5 vols. 1911–19. Reprint. New York, 1974. description ends , 1:31). He was wounded while serving with his regiment at the Battle of White Plains in October 1776, and although he refused GW’s offer of a colonelcy in the Continental line, Bedford did take command of a regiment of Delaware militia (see ibid., 85, 2:751). After the war Bedford was governor of Delaware from 1795 until his death in 1797.

1Col. John Haslet of the Delaware Regiment died on 3 Jan. and was buried with military honors in Philadelphia’s Old Presbyterian meeting yard on 25 Jan., four days after a sixteen-stanza elegy for him appeared in the Pennsylvania Evening Post (see Pennsylvania Evening Post [Philadelphia], 21, 25 January).

2Bedford and Macdonough refused to accept commissions in the new arrangement, and the Delaware Continental Regiment was without field officers until early April when three of its captains were promoted to fill the vacancies, David Hall, Charles Pope, and Joseph Ward, to colonel, lieutenant colonel, and major, respectively (see John McKinly to GW, 28 Feb., GW to McKinly, 4 Mar., and Delaware Archives description begins Delaware Archives. 5 vols. 1911–19. Reprint. New York, 1974. description ends , 1:85). Thomas Macdonough (Mc Donough; 1747–1795) of Trap (now Macdonough), Del., was the father of Thomas Macdonough (1783–1825), the famous naval officer of the War of 1812. The elder Macdonough, who was elected major of the Delaware Regiment on 22 Mar. 1776 (see ibid., 32), refused GW’s offer of a promotion in order to resume his medical practice in New Castle. Macdonough did remain active in the war effort by serving on the privy council and as a colonel in the New Castle County militia, however (see ibid., 2:1004, 3:1084).

3Samuel Patterson, a miller from Christiana Bridge and a veteran of the French and Indian War, was elected lieutenant colonel of the New Castle County militia on 20 May 1775 (see ibid., 2:985, 747, 3:1234). He had been promoted to colonel by June 1776 when the Continental Congress called upon the states to provide men for the flying camp, and his regiment was ordered to help fill the quota from Delaware (see ibid., 1:65). Many of Patterson’s men joined the Delaware Continental Regiment when the terms of enlistment for the flying camp expired in early December, and Patterson took command of a Delaware militia regiment that was posted on Naaman’s Creek in Delaware County in the spring. Patterson was promoted to brigadier general of militia in October of this year. He served in the Delaware general assembly in 1778 and as state treasurer from 1779 to 1785.

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