George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Major General William Phillips, 4 March 1779

From Major General William Phillips

Fredericksburgh [Va.] March 4th 1779


I will not trouble your Excellency upon the subject of the Convention Troops more than what you will have in reading my letter to Sir Henry Clinton,1 and I make no doubt but Your Excellency has been informed of all the particulars by Mr Harvie,2 and I live in the earnest hope that some positive remedy will be applied in redress of the present situation of the Convention Troops—According to your instructions I have applied for the interposition of the Governour of Virginia in matters relating to the Troops and I have no doubt of his Assistance.3

Captain Bliss will have the honor of delivering this letter to you, Sir, and I take leave to assure your Excellency that his conduct has been strictly proper both as it relates to his observance of the orders given him and in the most civil attention for me.

I am very solicitous for his being exchanged or released and will propose to you, Sir, that he be allowed going into New York with my letter to Sir Henry Clinton on that subject as the surest means of his immediately succeeding.4

I have heard that Colonel Baylor had letters for me from New York, which he sent to your Excellency’s Head Quarters—I shall be much obliged to you if they might be sent me as soon and as quick as possible. I have the honor to be Sir your Excellencys most Obedient humble Servant

W. Phillips

LS, DLC:GW. GW’s secretary Robert Hanson Harrison docketed the manuscript in part: “no Answer.”

In a letter from Middlebrook on 8 March, GW’s assistant secretary James McHenry wrote Lt. Col. William Washington: “Lt [Adamson] Tannehill who escorts a number of Convention prisoners is directed to put them under your care.

“It is further his Excellency’s desire that you send a small guard with them to proceed by the shortest route to Charlotte Ville in Virginia at which place the prisoners are to be delivered to the American officer who may command there.

“You will be pleased to make a report of the number which you may receive and their arrival at Charlottes Ville to his Excellency” (DLC:GW). No report from Washington on the Convention Army prisoners has been identified.

1Phillips’s letter to Henry Clinton has not been identified.

2No letter from John Harvie to GW on the Convention Army has been found.

3See GW to Phillips, 26 Jan., and Richard Peters to GW, 22 Feb. and n.1 to that document; see also GW to Patrick Henry, 13 Feb. and 1 March (second letter).

4Phillips almost certainly is referring to Capt. Thomas Theodore Bliss, who was among a group of paroled American officers recently “required to return to their captivity” (Connecticut Courant, and the Weekly Intelligencer [Hartford], 2 March). Phillips’ letter to Clinton concerning Bliss has not been identified. Bliss was not exchanged until January 1781.

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