From James Willis
[c. 18–24 October 1778]
May it please Your Excellency,
An unhappy accident attending the exhibition on Saturday Evening last, lays me under the painful necessity of troubling You in this manner.
Having two Stacks of Grain standing Contiguous to the Fire Works, unfortunately took fire, and were entirely consumed, to the amount at a moderate Computation, to Seventy Bushels of wheat, which considering the peculiar scituation of my Family, a Long time Refugee’s, driven from my Habitation by the cruel ravages of the Enemy; is without Your Excellency’s interposition an irreparable loss as that Article is not procurable but at the most Exorbitant, rate—Placing the utmost Confi dence in Your Excellency’s Justice & Generosity, in issuing an Order which will effectually redress my Loss, I am with every Sentiment of Respect & Esteem Your Excellency’s Obedt & Obliged Hum: Servant.
The context of this undated petition indicates that Willis probably wrote it between 18 and 24 Oct., the week following the Saratoga anniversary festivities that occurred at Fredericksburg on Saturday, 17 Oct. (see General Orders, 16 Oct.).
GW’s secretary Robert Hanson Harrison docketed the manuscript: “Petition—Mr Willis—&c. granted.” Harrison wrote Col. Clement Biddle on 28 Oct.: “I have presented Mr Willis’s petition to His Excellency [GW]—and he thinks it perfectly right that he should be satisfied for the loss of his Two Stacks. He leaves it to you to pay him money at a reasonable rate for the quantity of grain destroyed, which you had better get ascertained as well as you can by some sort of valuation or computation—or to replace it specifically [in] grain as you & he may agree” (DLC:GW).