George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Lieutenant Colonel Robert Ballard, 24 July 1778

From Lieutenant Colonel Robert Ballard

Williamsburg [Va.] July 24th 1778


Agreeable to your instructions I waited on Governor Henry, on Monday the 20th Inst., expecting to receive from him an Order for recruiting Money &c.,1 The Governor inform’d me he did not know at that time what to do in the matter, as 10 Gentlemen were already employed for to recruit men to fill up the Virginia Regts, but he woud consult the Council on the Occasion; the result of which, was, that the whole of us (meaning the Officers of Gl Muhlenbergs Brigade) was immediately to set out in search of Security for the Money intended to be given us. I was to provide Security for the whole of the Money, & take Security of each Officer for the respective sums given them, at my risque.

I convened the Officers and inform’d them of the Governor & Councils Instructions. They (for very cogent reasons in my Opinion) unanimously objected to the instructions, alledging that after marching 3 or 4 hundred Miles on foot, and having met me agreeable to my Appointment, and then, to set out again in persuit of Security on foot, was an obligation too hard to comply with, and what was not expected by you, nor was it a practice in your Army to go after Security when Ordered on the like business. besides the Officers say they do not know where to provide security, and it is unnecessarily drawing reflections on them; for, if they cannot procure security, the publick is directly aquainted thereof.

As to my part, I conceive it totally out of my power to obtain security for 20 or 30 thousand pounds on the principal of runing the risque of the Money given to each Officer, especially as the Council refus’d to undertake to refund their expences; indeed I thought it unjust to ask a friend to become my security on those terms. I acquainted the Governor & Council of the mode adopted in your Army when Officers were sent out to recruit: And if they chose to Issue Money to me and wou’d receive each Officers rect to whom I delivered money, & place to my Credit I wou’d undertake it with all my heart, but they possitively refused; on which I altogether refus’d to attempt Security.

The Governor and Council affected much Surprize when inform’d of the Number of Officers Sent to Virginia to recruit, and pretended that those 10 Gentn which they had employed was Sufficient for the undertaking.2 Those employed were Gentn who had been living at home enjoying themselves in peace and plenty, taking the advantage of the times to accumulate wealth, to whom very considerably Wages was given; when your Officers who had experienced every hardship at the risque of Life & fortune, for the protection and ease of those in private life, was refus’d any extra pay for their necessary expences. I fear we have an ungrateful publick.

The Officers who march’d under my Command to this place ⟨are⟩ much distressed for want of Money, several of whom I was oblig’d to advance Money, to get them home, I made the Governor & Council acquainted thereof, & beg’d they wou’d Order two or three Months pay to each, ’till I cou’d acquaint you, but I was put off with a kind of a recommendation to any Continental Pay Master I might meet with; at the same time they knew there was no Money in the Military Chest here. I never was so trifled with, by Gentn, in all my life. The Officers beg’d me to request your Excellencys favor in Ordering them pay here, if to remain any time.

I flatter myself my conduct will meet with your Excellencys Approbation. Any Commands Your Excellency may please to communicate shall to the utmost of my power be attended to. I have the Honor to be Your Excellencys Most Obt Sevt

Robt Ballard

P. S. Colo. H. Recheson is here, & meets with the Same fate with me.3


1For Ballard’s instructions, see GW’s letter to him of 18 June.

2“An act for recruiting the continental army” passed at the May 1778 session of the Virginia legislature authorized the governor “with the advice of the council … to appoint from time to time such and so many recruiting officers in this state as in their judgment shall be requisite” (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 , 9:454). On 10 July the Virginia council appointed “Francis Smith & Alexander Baugh of Chesterfield; John Lewis of Pittsylvania; Elisha White & Thomas Richardson of Hanover; John White of Louisa; Daniel Barksdale of Caroline; John Holcombe of Prince Edward; William Allen of James City; and Alexander Cummins of Bedford” to fill the positions ( Va. State Council Journals description begins H. R. McIlwaine et al., eds. Journals of the Council of the State of Virginia. 5 vols. Richmond, 1931–82. description ends , 2:164).

3The journals of the Virginia council do not record decisions about recruiting for Muhlenberg’s and Woodford’s brigades by Ballard and Lt. Col. Holt Richeson, but on 24 July the council considered a request by recruiters from Scott’s brigade and decided “that the recruiting Officers already appointed under the late Act of the Assembly would probably succeed better than any of the said Officers—it is judged unnecessary to issue the Warrants they desired” (ibid., 2:172).

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