George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Colonel William Grayson, 22 April 1777

From Colonel William Grayson

Dumfries [Va.] Aprill 22nd 1777.

Dr Sir.

I reciev’d your letter dated the 12th of March, from Morriss Town, yesterday,1 & am heartily sorry, there exists such a necessity for men, & that there is such an inability on my part to remove it.

When I delivered recruiting commissions, I directed the officers, who were remote, to send their recruits to this place, that I might forward them whenever I collected a number to Head Quarters. This has produced no effect, & there are only now here twelve men belonging to Captain Moore, & one of Capt. Smiths, five others, that he writes me he has sent having never appeared; These are innoculated by my orders & are well; had there been any others of that denomination, or could I ever have collected fifty or near the number, I should have sent them long ago.

Since my last,2 I am inform’d Lieutenant McCarty is full; & I believe this is nearly the case with Capt. McGuire as to his Quota; these as also those of Loudoun Frederick and Berkeley I have directed to be innoculated immediately at Colchester and Alexandria;3 and have renewed my orders to the different officers to send forward their recruits without delay that they may be innoculated; Out of the first that are ready I shall form a detachment & push them on with all expedition, and I hope it will be quickly succeeded by another. I heartily wish it was in my power to give satisfaction in this business, but if men will not inlist it is not in our power to force them: I cordially wish there was some coercive authority to oblige those who are proper for that purpose to go into the service of their country: if this was the case the regiment would soon be full, as there is not a want of men but of inclination.

With respect to innoculating the men in the different Counties; I would gladly execute your orders, if it was by any means practicable, but there are so many obstacles, & if they could be surmounted it would be attended with so much delay, expence, & danger to the men that I am satisfy’d it would neither answer your intentions or expectations.

If proper medicine, Molasses & other provisions could be laid in witht a Commissary, & good Physicians provided I am certain that the Courts would not agree to it unless it was in their County before: they have refused Col. Baylor in Fredericksburgh & Col. Powell in Loudoun; I inclose you his letter, by which you will percieve the assistance we are likely to get from the leading men of a Government founded on popularity.4

The recruits that come in (untill I have your orders to the contrary) I shall have innoculated at Colchester and Alexandria; there being no room at this place.

I observe you have said nothing about blankets; & therefore as it is growing warm, I shall not detain the men on that account, but depend on getting what we cannot provide here in Philada. I am with the greatest respect Yr Affect. frd & Most Obedt Servt

Willm Grayson


3Daniel McCarty, Jr. (1759–1801), of Fairfax County, Va., son of GW’s neighbor and friend Daniel McCarty, Sr. (d. 1792), of Mount Air, served as a lieutenant in Grayson’s regiment until December 1777, when he resigned his commission. McCarty married George Mason’s daughter Sarah Eilbeck Mason in 1778, and they subsequently settled at Cedar Grove near Mount Vernon. James and John McGuire both became captains in Grayson’s regiment in February 1777 and resigned their commissions in April 1778. John McGuire was wounded at the Battle of Germantown on 4 Oct. 1777. Colchester was a village on the Occoquan Creek about nine miles north of Dumfries and about sixteen miles south of Alexandria.

4Lt. Col. Leven Powell wrote Grayson from Loudoun County on 16 April: “I applyd to our Court the other day for leave to innoculate our Soldiers for the Small Pox but without Success, as the Season is advan[c]ing fast would it not be best for them to go either to Dumfries or Alexa., I am told the Small Pox is so thick on the road to Phila. that it will [be] impossible to get there without taking it. Any Orders you shall give respecting it I will endeavour to have complyd.

“I saw Capt. [Francis or John] Willis at our Court he has inlisted 13 men, [Christopher] Greenup abt the same Number, French had five some time ago, I hear he has got Five since[.] Cato Moore I think Capt. Willis told me had abt 7. [Peter] Grant goes on very slowly not over 4 or 5. I recd a letter from [James or John] McGuire who informed me he had 24. this poor fellow got hard run in this County lately, upon handling some of our Young fellows a little roughly a comp[lain]t was made to Colo. [Josias] Clapham who Joyfully made use of the Oppty of standing up for the People, sent out his Warrt & poor McGuire was presently surrounded by a whole Neighbourhood of lustly fellows & after being kept in Custody one night was carried down prisoner to the Colo. but whether the people relented or whether the Colo. beg’d him off I cannot say but I have been Credibly inform’d he got off with a whole Skin, McGuire I think in this Affair rather exc[eede]d the bounds of legallity, but I am firmly of opinion he has a good Action agt the Colo. & all his People, this will however hurt the Service, if you offer to Speak to a Young fellow now abt inlisting he threatens you with Colo. Clapham—the poor Officers here are obliged to ask leave when they may speake” (DLC:GW).

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