George Washington Papers

From George Washington to Major General William Phillips, 17 December 1777

To Major General William Phillips

Gulph Mills, Pa., 17 Dec. 1777. GW “presents his Comps. to Major Genl Philips and begs leave to inform him that his letters were forwarded to Philada immediately upon the receipt of them.”1

Df, in Tench Tilghman’s writing, DLC:GW; Varick transcript, DLC:GW. Tilghman drafted this letter beneath the draft of GW’s letter to John Burgoyne of this date.

William Phillips (1731–1781), a British artillery officer who served with distinction in Germany during the Seven Years’ War, was promoted to lieutenant colonel in August 1760 and to colonel in May 1772. Sent to Canada in 1776, Phillips was given the local rank of major general, and the following year he became Gen. John Burgoyne’s second in command for the invasion of New York. Phillips was taken prisoner when Burgoyne surrendered at the Battle of Saratoga in October 1777. In the absence of Burgoyne, who was soon paroled to England, Phillips commanded the captured British and German troops until November 1779, when he was paroled to New York. Exchanged on 13 Oct. 1780, Phillips subsequently commanded British forces in Rhode Island and in Virginia. He died of typhoid fever on 13 May 1781 in Petersburg, Virginia.

1These letters, apparently included in the packet of letters that John Burgoyne enclosed in his letter to GW of 27 Nov. and that GW forwarded to William Howe on 14 Dec., have not been identified (see also GW to John Burgoyne, this date).

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