George Washington Papers

From George Washington to Captain Bartholomew Burke, 4 March 1777

To Captain Bartholomew Burke

[4 March 1777]


You are hereby authoriz’d to raise a Company of Men in the Service of the United States to Consist of 68 Rank & file Four Serjeants & a Drum & Fife, according to the Recruiting Instructions herewith deliver’d you.

As you will in a great Measure be Answerable for the Behaviour of your Company I leave the Nomenation of your Subaltern Officers to yourself, only reserving a Negative in Case I should not approve of them.

As Desertion has been very Prevalent to the great Detriment of the Recruiting Service, I think you had better advance as little of the Bounty as possible ’till your Company is compleat.1

You will from time to time transmit an Accot of your proceedings to me & let me know when there will be a probability of your being fit to take the Field. I am &C.


Df, in John Fitzgerald’s writing, DLC:GW; Varick transcript, DLC:GW.

Bartholomew Burke, a former ensign in the British army who came to America from Jamaica shortly before the Revolutionary War, was, said Hancock when writing to GW on 6 Feb. 1777, “a Gentleman of Spirit and well affected to the American Cause, who has applied to Congress to be taken into the Service of these States. They have directed that his Application be referred to you, that you may do therein as you shall think proper. The Congress have received very favourable Accounts of the great Attachment Mr Burke has to the Cause of America, and of his Zeal to do every Thing in his Power to support her Liberties” (DLC:GW). In January 1777 Burke petitioned the Continental Congress to be allowed to serve in the American forces, and on 4 Feb. 1777 Congress resolved to send his request to GW for consideration (see JCC description begins Worthington Chauncey Ford et al., eds. Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774-1789. 34 vols. Washington, D.C., 1904–37. description ends , 7:73, 87). At Hancock’s urging Robert Morris wrote a letter of introduction for Burke to GW on 14 Feb. 1777, which is also in DLC:GW.

1GW on this date ordered Paymaster Gen. William Palfrey to give Burke a warrant for $500 to raise the company, and the Continental Congress ordered the warrant to be honored on 7 April 1777 (see ibid., 229, and GW’s warrant book no. 2, DLC:GW, ser. 5, vol. 18).

Index Entries