George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Major General Riedesel, 12 October 1779

From Major General Riedesel

Bethlehem in Pensilvania October 12th 1779


Your Excellency, I hope, will have the goodness to excuse my troubling you with this letter, I do it from motives of justice due Mr Randolph the Gentleman who will have the honour of delivering it to you1—I beg to recommend him to the knowledge of Your Excellency as the person to whom Colonel Bland the Commandant at CharlottesVille gave the Commission of conducting the Officers of my family and Baggage to Elizabeth Town, I having as you, Sir, must have been apprised, taken the route before in company with Major General Phillips.

The great care which Mr Randolph has had to render the journey as convenient as possible to the Officers of my Suite, the politeness he has shewed to them, and the Exactness with which he has executed his orders, require my best acknowledgements and have induced me to mention this Gentleman to Your Excellency.

I will not enter upon the subject of my detention as Major General Phillips has written to Your Excellency and must have fully explained with his own, my Sentiments on that affair,2 but the pleasing prospect I had of going to New York was heightened from it becoming in a manner necessary for my health which has lately been declining under a slow fever, which change of Climate alone will cure—My disappointment is in proportion to the flattering Idea I had of visiting my friends, Your Excellency may then judge how Severely I must feel the returning to Virginia in my present state of health where I am certain my Constitution must suffer from the Climate. I have the honour to be, with the greatest personal respect Your Excellencys most obedient and humble Servant

Major General

LS, DLC:GW; Df, GyWoS; Df (in French), GyWoS; copy, CtY: Webb Family Collection, Samuel B. Webb Papers.

GW replied to Riedesel on 23 Oct. from headquarters at West Point: “I have had the honor of your letter of the 12th by Mr Randolph. It gives me pleasure to learn that this young gentleman’s attentions during the course of your journey, have been such as to deserve your approbation. I beg leave to refer you to my letter to Major Genl Philips, for my answer to his request in your favor. I sympathise in the bad state of your health; and very sincerely wish an alteration for the better, and which I would hope from your change of situation” (LS, in James McHenry’s writing, NWM; Df, DLC:GW; Varick transcript, DLC:GW).

1David Meade Randolph (c.1758–1830), of Presque Isle, Chesterfield County, Va., had served as a captain of a Virginia volunteer militia cavalry regiment in 1777. Randolph later became United States marshal for Virginia (see Josiah Parker to GW, 1 July 1789, in Papers, Presidential Series, description begins W. W. Abbot et al., eds. The Papers of George Washington, Presidential Series. 17 vols. to date. Charlottesville, Va., 1987—. description ends 3:102–4).

2See William Phillips to GW, 30 Sept., 6 Oct., and 10 Oct. (second letter). For the background of Congress’s orders to detain Phillips and Riedesel and the ultimate resolution of the affair, see GW to John Jay, 24–27 Aug., and n.12 to that document, and Phillips to GW, 30 Sept., and n.1 to that document.

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