George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Colonel William Grayson, 8 April 1777

From Colonel William Grayson

Dumfries [Va.] Aprill 8th 1777.

Dear Sir.

I wrote you by the two last posts respectively, and hope that my letters have safely got to Head Quarters.1

Since the date of my last, Dr Alexander has applied to me, to know, whether I would purchase his medicines; He has assured me, the principal part of them, have been imported within these two years; the assortment consists in general of useful medicines, & with the assistance of a proper proportion of bark, would answer extremely well for a regiment; I have prevail’d upon him, not to dispose of them, till I hear from you.

With respect to the recruiting service, I wrote you fully in my two last letters, since which there has been no material alteration; the Georgia officers are forbid by Governor Henry’s proclamation, to recruit any more;2 but I am inform’d there are several South Carolina officers inlisting men on our frontiers without any authority from this Government; I beg leave to inclose you a letter from Capt. Granville Smith, a gentleman of unexceptionable character, & who is very anxious to get into the service, by which you will percieve some of the difficulties we labor under of recruiting men in this State.3

A report prevailing here, that General Lee, has been tryed by a Court martial & acquitted, & that he is admitted to his parole in New York, the Hessian Field Officers, have importun’d me to write to you on the subject, & to know your pleasure with respect to their inlargement from close confinement; A line from you on this head would (they say) lay them under the greatest obligations. I am with the greatest regard yr Affect. frd & most Obedt Servt

Willm Grayson


George Johnston replied to Grayson on 18 April: “His Excelly received yr favr of the 8th Inst. by this day’s post. The directions contained in his last respecting Dr Alexander’s Medicines will answer yr Inquiry about them—Congress havg determined on the degree of Liberty to be granted to the Hessian Field-Officers, his Excelly does not interpose—Genl Lee has not been tried by a Ct Martial as you have heard, nor shared a better fate than he did three Months past—He lives as comfortably in the City-Hall as his situation will admit” (DLC:GW). GW apparently discussed the medicines in his letter to Grayson of 12 April, which has not been found.

1See Grayson to GW, 1 April. The letter that Grayson wrote GW sometime during March has not been found.

2The Virginia council on 25 March 1777 ordered the Georgia officers who were recruiting in Virginia to halt their efforts until they could assure the council that they were not enlisting more men than were necessary for the one Georgia battalion that the Virginia general assembly had authorized them to raise in the state (see Journals of the Council of State of Virginia description begins H. R. McIlwaine et al., eds. Journals of the Council of the State of Virginia. 5 vols. Richmond, 1931–82. description ends , 1:332, 376; see also Purdie’s Virginia Gazette [Williamsburg], 28 Mar. 1777).

3Granville Smith (1758–1811), who had been commissioned a captain in Grayson’s Additional Continental Regiment on 4 Feb. 1777, says in the enclosed letter to Grayson of 7 April, which he apparently wrote at Fredericksburg, Va., that he had recruited six men in Fincastle County, and a sergeant had enlisted two more men for his company in Botetourt County. “My raising Men in the back Cou⟨ntry⟩,” Smith writes, “I thought did not admit of a Doubt, & I should certainly have succeeded, but while I was there, Indians raising an other War, has effectually put a stop to Men inlisting to go to the Northward. My Inclinations to serve the Country are still the same: I wish to do it as fare as lies in my Power, & if you should think proper to continue me, you may depend I shall use every Exertion to raise the Men as soon as possible: if not, I will pay the Balan[c]e of Money in my Hands to any Person you may appoint” (DLC:GW). Smith continued as one of Grayson’s captains until July 1778 when he resigned his commission. In 1781 Smith was serving as an assistant quartermaster general in Virginia.

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