George Washington Papers

Orders to Colonel Nathaniel Gist, 13 January 1777

Orders to Colonel Nathaniel Gist

[Morristown] Jany 13th 1777


You are hereby authorized and Impowered to raise four Companies of Rangers upon the Continental pay, Rank, and establishmt—To enable you to do this, you are furnished with a Warrant for 3,000 Dollars to recruit with; part of the bounty to be given at the time of Inlisting, & the other part when the Men Join the Battn or Corps they belong to.

That you may not be restricted in the choice of Officers fit for this kind of Service, I leave the nomination of them (that is for the four Companies) to yourself, reserving to myself a negative upon any improper choice as in other Cases.

You are to delay no time in forwarding these Companies to the Army (under my immediate command) as fast as possible where they will be received & provided with necessaries—you are to keep me duly advised of your proceedings that I may know in what time to expect your assistance—when you consider the advanced Season, and compare it with the time we shall undoubtedly be called into the Field I am perswaded it will be a powerful argument in favour of your every exertion to raise the Men.1 Wishing you success in it I am Sir Yr Most Obedt Servt

Go: Washington

ADfS, DLC:GW; Varick transcript, DLC:GW. In the dateline of the draft, GW inadvertently wrote “New Town,” the name of his former headquarters in Bucks County, Pa., instead of Morristown.

Nathaniel Gist (b. 1733) served under GW in the Virginia Regiment as a lieutenant in the company of scouts commanded by his father, Capt. Christopher Gist, beginning in late 1755 (see GW’s Orders, 28 Dec. 1755), and after the disbanding of the Virginia Regiment in 1762, he joined Lt. Col. Adam Stephen’s Independent Regiment as a captain. After that regiment also disbanded, Gist lived on the frontier, trading with the Cherokee Indians in the Holston River valley. At the beginning of the Revolutionary War, Gist was serving as a deputy to the British superintendent of Indian affairs. Although he initially remained loyal to the British crown, Gist in December 1776 reconciled himself with the Revolutionary forces in Virginia. Gist raised his ranger regiment in Virginia and Maryland during the spring and summer of this year. In 1779 Gist’s regiment absorbed the Additional Continental Regiments commanded by colonels Charles Mynn Thruston and William Grayson, and on 12 May 1780 Gist was taken prisoner during the British attack on Charleston, South Carolina. His regiment disbanded the following November, and he apparently retired upon his release from captivity in January 1781. Gist settled in Kentucky in 1793.

1On 14 Jan. GW sent additional orders to Gist: “By virtue of the powers to me given by the Honble Continental Congress, I do hereby authorize you, after Appointing the Officers of the four Ranging Companies mentioned in my Instructions of yesterday, and setting them to Recruiting; to proceed immediately to the Cherokee, or any other Nation of Indians in which you may have an Influence, and there use your utmost endeavours to procure a number of Warriors (not exceeding in the whole 500) to join the Army under my immediate Commd. They are to come provided with arms Blankets &ca—but shall be supplied with Ammunition and Provisions—they shall receive in lieu of presents, the same pay as the Troops in Continental Service do, and if they have Officers of their own people you may engage such advanced pay, provided it bears a similarity to the difference in ours, but not greater. The Expence of the March will be borne by the public. for the necessary provisions consumed on your Rout, you are to pass certificates, which will entitle the proprietors thereof to a claim upon the public—consult Œconomy—& use every dispatch in your power; ever bearing in mind the shortness of the time you have to do a great deal in. . . . N.B. This body of Indians (if obtaind) are to consider you as their head, and are to be Informed that they are to obey all such orders as you shall receive from me, and deliver to them” (ADfS, DLC:GW). Gist negotiated a treaty with the Cherokee on the Virginia frontier, where his ranger regiment was stationed, which was signed at Fort Patrick Henry on 4 July 1777.

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