George Washington Papers

To George Washington from William Fitzhugh, 16 November 1780

Low’r Marlbro Maryland Novr 16th 1780

Dear General

I had the Honor to receive your very Acceptable favr of the 22d ulto by Major General Green whom I had the pleasure to meet at Annapolis—Colo. Morris His Aid, & Majr Claiburne a Gentleman of the Generals retinue, had Honor’d me with their Company the Preceeding Night at Marlbro on their way to Mont Vernon & the General set out from Annapolis for the same place on Saturday Morning the 11th Inst., The Baron De Stuben—Having Gone on the Day before—Had General Greens Stay been Longer with Us, I shou’d have had an Oppertunity And much Pleasure, in shewing Him every Civility Due not only to your Excellency’s recommendation But to His Great Merrit And Distinguish’d Character—I Believe the Generals Hasty Departure proceeded as well from His Anxiety to be with the Army which he is to Command, as from the Disagreeable And Confus’d State in which He found Our Assembly, wrangling Amongst themselves, & Spending their time in Debates, Deriv’d from Personal Peake, & Diffirences with One another, which must have been truly Disgustful, at a Crisis, When the Common Cause Crys aloud for their utmost Exertions. I stay’d only two Days in Annapolis, which time I Employ’d Amongst my friends And Acquaintance, & I hope not without Effect, to facilitate Your Wishes for the Publick Good, & to Spur them on As much as in My Power to an Immediate & Vigorous Exertion, Tho Messrs Chase & Hall with their Partixans, seem so Determin’d on Silenceing their Opponants. That I wish the Publick and Absolutely necessary Business of their Session, may not fall a Sacrifice to their Private Quarrels, & resentment; However, it is to be Hoped that the Gentlemen will in Due time See the folly & Danger of such Conduct, & proceed wth Calmness, & resolution to Dispatch the Important Business Before them—I am so very Blind and Infirm, That I was Constrain’d to Decline the Publick Service, & am now out of the Legislature.

I thank your Excellency for the Kind Mention You are Pleas[d] to make of my Son—My Wishes to have Him restor’d to the Service of His Country, Flatter me with the Hope of His releasement. When at the same time, I cannot restrain my fears That the Number to be Exchang’d will not reach the Date of His Captivity—He is now with me & presents His respectful Complts to you & your Family.

The Pirates in Our Bay tho’ but a few Small Vessells have become very troublesome to Our Settlements on the Water Having taken a Great Many Vessells with Tobacco & many Hundred Slaves from Different Places. They have now begun to Burn Houses, amongst which are mine at Rousby Hall, with a Good deal of Furniture & other— valuable Effects, besides having recd 8 of my Men Slaves four of them Carpenters—on the 7th Inst. in the [   ] of 70 Militia, I had the Mortification to See my [   ] Confirm’d, by 20 or 30 Ruffians, Part of them Black who were landed from two Small Schooners, not Large[r] than Common pilot Boats, Set Fire to my Houses & Immediately went off in Exultation, without a Single Shot being fired at them—The Enemy had Denounc’d their Intention, & came on Deliberately, whilst the Militia might have taken Possession of the Houses & even with 15 Men, Defended it against a Hundred—But such was their Consternation, at least their—Principal Officers, that no Advice, or Importunity could Move them—Our Militia are Dastardly, will not Fight, & are not Worth a Farthing—The Piratical Vessells in Our Bay are Cheifly, nay I believe Intirely Man’d with Tories & Negros, & Commanded by the most Notorious Traitors of this State, who have Escap’d from Justice, & their Spies, are both by Land & Water in every Part of the Country Passing under Diferent Characters & pretence—Our Governor is a Gentleman of Spirrit & Vigilance, & Has This Week In Confidence of the Approbation of the Legislature, Hir’d & Sent Down the Bay, two Vessells of Force, & filled out a large Barge which was taken from the Enemy. This Force wou’d be Suffecent, were it to Continue, but I suppose After a Short Cruise they will return, & the Pirates resume their former Station. And As their Daily Acquisitions will Increase their Strength I apprehend they will become Powerful, & Dangerous to Such a Degree, As to break up all our Settlements on the Water—Shame to Maryland & Virginia for Suffering Such a Little Band of Pirates to Remain in Our Bay & Ruin its Adjacent Inhabitants.

Mrs Fitzhugh Joins with me in respectful Complts & best Wishes to you & your Family. We presume your Lady is not yet With you. I have the Honor to be with Sincere Affection & Esteem Your Excellencys Most Obedt & Oblig’d Hume Servt

Willm Fitzhugh

DLC: Papers of George Washington.

Index Entries