George Washington Papers

From George Washington to Brigadier General William Woodford, 28 March 1778

To Brigadier General William Woodford

Head Quarters Valley Forge 28th March 1778.


You are immediately upon your arrival in Virginia ⟨to⟩ take the most speedy and effectual means for forwarding ⟨a⟩ll the Drafts, Recruits and reinlisted Men to Camp. It being determined to innoculate them here, they are ⟨n⟩ot to be detained upon that account. The officers are to be ⟨o⟩rdered to march them moderately and not by any means to halt in any Villages or at any Houses in which there any person in the small pox. You are also to order all officers to join their Corps whose furloughs have expired, or who were ⟨n⟩ot limited to any particular time, except those who are employ⟨e⟩d by the State in collecting and forwarding the Drafts, or upon ⟨a⟩ny necessary duty.1 You are so well acquainted with the situation ⟨of o⟩ur Affairs that I need not repeat to you the many Reasons ⟨that⟩ might be assigned for drawing our Reinforcements together ⟨as ex⟩peditiously as possible; the most striking one is that the ⟨Enem⟩y are drawing in theirs. I am Dear Sir Yr most obt Servt.

Df, in Tench Tilghman’s writing, DLC:GW; Varick transcript, DLC:GW. Where the left margin of the draft has been mutilated, the text in angle brackets has been supplied from the transcript.

1On 20 April, Woodford issued the following order at Fredericksburg, Va.: “I Have it in express command from his Excellency General Washington to order all officers belonging to the continental army in this State, whose furloughs have expired, or who were not limited to any particular time, to join their respective corps with as much expedition as possible. Many, weighty reasons influence the Commander in Chief to wish a punctual compliance with this order, the most striking one is, that the enemy are drawing their forces to one point. This order is not meant to extend to the officers of the light dragoons, who are necessarily employed in purchasing horses, &c. for their troops, or to any officer of foot who may have received his Excellency the Governor’s particular instructions to take charge of draughts, or other men, to conduct them to camp. Such are desired to make the greatest expedition in their power, taking care not to over march their men, and to avoid all villages and other places upon the road where there may be any danger of taking the enfection of the smallpox, preparations being made to inoculate them on their arrival at head quarters” (Dixon & Hunter’s Virginia Gazette [Williamsburg], 24 April 1778).

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