George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Patrick Henry, 6 December 1777

From Patrick Henry

Wmsburgh Decr 6th 1777


Inclosed I have the Honor to transmit you an Accot of Necessarys sent off in nine Waggons, for the Virginia Regiments in continental Service.1 The goods have been deliver’d Colo. Finnie the Quarter Master, & he has put them under the Escort of Leiutent Mennis & a party of Soldiers, who I trust will deliver them safely.2 It is my Wish that the Troops of Virginia shall have them. I also send a List of some other Articles—cheifly Linens, that will shortly set out from our public Store for the same Uses.

Added to this Supply, 15,000 £ worth of Woollens &c. proper for the Soldiers will set out from petersburgh in a few Days. These last are procured under an Act of Assembly empowering me to Seize Necessarys for our Troops wherever they may be found. I have given orders in Consequence, to proper persons in different parts of the State, which I expect will produce many Necessarys, if not enough for the Virga Troops. Orders are sent to both Carolina’s for Blankets particularly & Soldiers Clothes & nothing possible for me to effect, will be left undone in getting whatever the Troops are in Want of.3

I should be more particular as to the Goods Seized, but the Commissioners have as yet sent me no distinct Account of their proceedings. If it happens that the Wants of your Army are supply’d in any short Time, I beg to know it, that the Execution of the present Law for seizing Goods may be stopped.

I take the Liberty to send under Cover to your Excellency two Letters from France to the Marquiss dela Fayette. One of them is from his Lady I beleive. I beg to be presented to him in the most acceptable Manner. I greatly revere his person & amiable Character.

The Lenity of your publication respecting Deserters, is very apparent.4 But nevertheless a great many of them are yet skulking on the eastern Shore, & really I think their Case peculiar. Their Officers took up the general opinion that their Service would be confin’d to that Shore, & promised them to remain there. Their Desertion followed upon Orders to march away. I beg Leave to observe that if your Excellency would offer them a pardon upon their Inlistment to serve this State, it would forward the general Service by enabling us to Spare so many more Troops for the grand Army.5 I beg Leave To Assure you of the highest Esteem & Regard with which I have the Honor to be Sir your Excellencys most obedient & very humble Servant

P. Henry


1This enclosure has not been identified.

2Three officers named Mennis (or Minnis) served in the Virginia line at this time, all in the 1st Virginia Regiment, lieutenants Francis Mennis and Holman Mennis, and Callohill Mennis, Jr. (1751–1812), who had been promoted to captain on 18 November.

3For the background to Henry’s efforts to meet the clothing needs of the Virginia line, see GW to Henry, 13 Nov., and Henry to GW, 22 November. “An act for speedily clothing the troops raised by this commonwealth now in continental service,” drafted by a committee headed by George Mason, was passed into law by the Virginia general assembly on 28 Nov., three days after measures to that effect had been first introduced into the House of Delegates (Va. House of Delegates Journal description begins Journal of the House of Delegates of the Commonwealth of Virginia; Begun and Held at the Capitol, in the City of Williamsburg, on Monday, the Twentieth Day of October, in the Year of Our Lord One Thousand Seven Hundred and Seventy-Seven. Richmond, 1827. description ends , Oct. 1777–Jan. 1778 sess., 43, 45, 47; Va. Senate Journal description begins Journal of the Senate. Williamsburg, Va., 1777. (Microfilm Collection of Early State Records.) description ends , Oct. 1777–Jan. 1778 sess., 12–14; Hening, description begins William Waller Hening, ed. The Statutes at Large; Being a Collection of All the Laws of Virginia, from the First Session of the Legislature, in the Year 1619. 13 vols. 1819–23. Reprint. Charlottesville, Va., 1969. description ends 9:375–77; Rutland, Mason Papers description begins Robert A. Rutland, ed. The Papers of George Mason, 1725–1792. 3 vols. Chapel Hill, N.C., 1970. description ends , 1:355–57). The act was to be in force until 28 Feb. 1778. William Finnie wrote to the president of the Board of War on 5 Dec. that the new law “was done in so secret a manner that Commissioners were appointed by the Governor to put the Act in Execution & Several Seizures were actually made in several parts of the Country before it was known that such a Law was intended, by virtue of which we have in our Possession the very articles we were in immediate want of to the amount of upwards of £20,000” (DNA:PCC, item 78).

5Col. David Mason also wrote GW about deserters on Virginia’s Eastern Shore on 22 November.

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