George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Richard Peters, 22 February 1779

From Richard Peters

War Office [Philadelphia] Feby 22d 1779


The Board have recieved disagreeable Accounts of the Situation of Affairs at the Convention Barracks in Albermarle County Virginia where great Disorder & Confusion prevail in almost every Department. One great Source of the Evils is that there is no Person there of sufficient Authority to harmonize & conduct the whole Machine. The Officers of the Convention too are by no Means disposed to assist in reducing Matters to Order altho’ no Complaints of Consequence are made as to them.

The Government of Virginia complain of the Site of the Barracks & have represented the Matter to Congress who have come to the enclosed Resolution.1 But it is the Opinion of the Board that Nothing will so effectually tend to bring the Affairs there into a proper Train as the Presence of a sensible discreet Officer with Authority to direct all Matters with Respect to our Officers & with sufficient Weight & Knowledge of Bussiness to regulate the uneasy & discordant Spirits among the Prisoners. I am therefore to request your Excellency to direct an Officer of the above Discription to repair to the Barracks & reside there until farther Orders. Any Instructions necessary to be given are left to your Excellency.2 The Guards now consist of Militia under very little Government or Discipline. A Regiment of six hundred Men were ordered to be raised for one Year & stationed at the Barracks under the Direction of the Govr & Council of the State. But from the Time of passing the Act of Congress the Board presume little Progress is made in the Bussiness.3 Col. J. Harvie Lieut. of the County has at present the general Care of Matters at the post but there is more to do than he can perform, as he has but little Assistance either in the civil or military Line. I have the Honour to be with the greatest Respect your very obedt Servt

Richard Peters
In Behalf of the Board

ALS, DLC:GW. Tench Tilghman docketed the manuscript in part: “Ansd 28th” (see GW to the Board of War, 28 Feb.).

1The enclosed copy of this resolution of 20 Feb. reads: “The Committee to whom were refered the Letters from Govr Henery and William Finnie Deputy Qua[r]ter Master General respecting the Convention Troops stationed near Charlotte Ville in Virginia report,

“That having confered with the Board of War they are informed that Orders were given in due time to the Commissary and Quarter Master General for providing every thing necessary in their respective Departments for the use of the said Convention Troops—that no Complaints have been recieved respecting a deficiency of Provisions; that the Barracks were not compleated for the reception of the Troops at the time of their Arrival, but that they would soon be in good order after that time; that many British Officers had been permitted to go to the neighbouring Towns for Quarters—untill they could be better accommodated at or near the Barracks; that as no preparations hath been made at any other place for the accomodation and subsistence of the said Troops it will be Inconvenient at present to remove them; that as some Complaints have been recieved respecting the Negligence of the Quarter Master in that Department; the disorders which are apprehended and which at present subsist may probably be prevented & remedied by the personal Attendance of the said Quarter Master at the Barracks; Whereupon, Resolved,

“That orders Issue from the Board of War to the Quarter Master in the said Department directing him to reside at or near the said Barracks and that the Govr and Council of Virg[i]nia be authorised & requested to superintend the Conduct of those who shall have the direction of the said Troops, & if they shall think it proper to take such Order for the Accomodation and distribution of the said Troops within the said State as the Necessity of the Case may Require” (DLC:GW; see also JCC description begins Worthington Chauncey Ford et al., eds. Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774-1789. 34 vols. Washington, D.C., 1904–37. description ends , 13:216–17). The letters that Patrick Henry and William Finnie had written to Jay on 5 Feb., regarding the difficulties of supplying the Convention Army prisoners at the Albemarle Barracks and recommending their removal to other places, had been read by Congress on 16 Feb. and referred to the Virginia delegates (JCC description begins Worthington Chauncey Ford et al., eds. Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774-1789. 34 vols. Washington, D.C., 1904–37. description ends , 13:190; Finnie’s letter is in DNA:PCC, item 78; Henry’s letter has not been found).

2For GW’s appointment of Col. Theodorick Bland for this purpose and his instructions to him, see GW to Bland, 28 February.

3For Congress’s act of 9 Jan. 1779 authorizing the raising of this regiment of guards, see JCC description begins Worthington Chauncey Ford et al., eds. Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774-1789. 34 vols. Washington, D.C., 1904–37. description ends , 13:42; see also Patrick Henry to John Jay, 28 Jan. 1779, DNA:PCC, item 71.

Index Entries