From Colonel James Wood
Winchester [Va.] 17th Jany 1779.
Before I left Williamsburg I did myself the Honor of Inclosing your Excellency a Copy of the Act of Assembly for recruiting the Virginia Regiments which passed the 19th of last month;1 and have now taken the Liberty of Inclosing Copies of Such Acts and Resolutions as respect the Army.2 the Assembly have Deferred Opening a Land Office from a Just Apprehension that it wou’d engross too much of the Public Attention at this Critical Juncture. the reserve they have made for the Army I think a very Ample One; and is Universally allowed to be the Most Valuable part of the Back Country. I find from the Information of the Members of the Assembly, that there are in almost every County a Number of the last Draughts, many Soldiers who have formerly Obtained Furloughs, and a great many Deserters, who might be Easily Collected, if proper places of Rendezvous were Appointed; and they had an Assurance of your Excellency’s Pardon. I am well assured that with the Increased Bounty the Regiments may be readily filled up, if the recruiting Officers are Active and Industrious.
I am but Just returned home from Williamsburg, where I shall be under the Necessity of remaining sometime to recruit My Horses, and shall then proceed to the Quarters of my Regiment. my wife Still Continues in a very Dangerous and Declining Situation.3 If your Excellency Shou’d have any Commands for me, or shou’d think my Presence with the Regiment Immediately Necessary I shall be Exceedingly Obliged to you to signifie it by a line put into the Post Office Directed to me at Winchester Via Baltimore, and your Orders shall be Instantly Complied with. I have the Honor to be Yr Excellencys Very Obt Servant
1. Wood’s letter to GW enclosing a copy of this act has not been found. For the text of “An act for speedily recruiting the Virginia regiments on continental establishment,” which the Virginia general assembly had passed on the last day of its recent fall session, running from 5 Oct. to 19 Dec. 1778, see Va. Statutes 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 [Hening], 9:588–92.
2. Wood, who was not a legislator, apparently enclosed two sets of recent general assembly resolutions and a copy of “An act to enable the officers of the Virginia line, and to encourage the soldiers of the same line, to continue in the continental service,” all of which are in DLC:GW (for the act, see also Va. Statutes 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 [Hening], 9:565–67).
The act, which the general assembly had passed during its fall 1778 session, directed that each Virginia officer and soldier currently in Continental service “be presented with Six months pay out of the public Treasury” and that they be furnished with “a variety of Articles which by Custom and habit are become Almost the Necessaries of Life … Wine at five Dollars per Gallon, Green Tea at four Dollars per pound, Bohea Tea at two Dollars per pound, Coffee at two Shillings and Six pence per poun⟨d,⟩ Chocolate at half a Dollar per pound, Loaf Sugar at two Shillings and Eight pence per pound, and Brown Sugar at One Shilling per pound.” The act also authorized lifetime half-pay pensions for widows of Virginia officers and soldiers who died while in Continental service.
One of the two sets of general assembly resolutions includes resolutions dated 10 and 20 Nov. 1778 directing that “Under Waistcoats,” “worsted or Milled woolen Caps,” and “One thousand Blankets” be sent to the enlisted men of the state’s Continental regiments. A third resolution, which is undated but which the assembly had approved on 24 Nov., requested Brig. Gen. Thomas Nelson, Jr., to purchase and send four horses to GW as a testimony of the state’s gratitude for his services to America (see also GW to Benjamin Harrison, 18 Dec. 1778, in GW to Harrison, 18-30 Dec. 1778, n.1). For efforts to obtain these horses, see Nelson to GW, 9 March 1779; GW to Nelson, 15 March; Alexander Spotswood to GW, 8 March, 15 April, 27 Sept., 26 Oct., 21 Nov., and 3 Dec. 1779; and GW to Spotswood, 15 Sept., 10 Nov., and 15 Dec. 1779, all DLC:GW.
The other set of general assembly resolutions consists of five measures dated 19 Dec. 1778 concerning bounty lands for Virginia officers and soldiers in Continental service. The first two of these resolutions, which were approved on 19 Dec., set aside for veterans an extensive tract south of the Green River in present-day Kentucky, while confirming that the “Officers and Soldiers or any of them may be at liberty to Locate their proportions of Land On any Other Vacant and Ungranted Lands within this Commonwealth.” The legislators deferred to the next assembly session consideration of the other three resolutions, which proposed the granting of bounty lands to the Continental general officers from Virginia, including GW, and additional allowances of land for the officers and soldiers of the state’s Continental line regiments. Action was not taken on those matters until the fall session of 1780, when the assembly enacted all but the bounty land provision for GW (see Va. Statutes 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 [Hening], 10:331, 375). GW consistently declined to accept any pay or other compensation for his service as commander in chief of the Continental army.
3. Wood’s 8th Virginia Regiment was quartered at Middlebrook. Jean Moncure Wood (1753–1823), a poet and musician of some talent who had married her husband about 1775, apparently soon recovered her health. In 1811 she cofounded the Female Humane Association of Richmond, Virginia. Some of her poems were published after her death in the Southern Literary Messenger and John Lewis’s poetry collection Flowers and Weeds of the Old Dominion (Frankfort, Ky., 1859).