George Washington Papers
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From George Washington to Thomas Johnson, 1 March 1779

To Thomas Johnson

Head Quarters Middlebrook 1st March 1779

Dr Sir

Sir Henry Clinton in order to supply1 the British prisoners at Fort Frederick and Winchester with necessaries and money has twice requested a passport for a vessel to go with the same to the port of Baltimore.2

As it is necessary the prisoners should be supplied, I have granted permission to a schooner to proceed to Hampton road—Where the cargo is to be received into some of the Bay craft, and sent to Alexandria or George Town under the conduct and escort of our own people, and from thence to it’s places of destination.3 I refused the passport to Baltimore especially as it was twice pressed upon me—as that port did not appear to be the nearest to Fort Frederick and Winchester, and as it might be made use of for the purpose of exploring a navigation, with which they may be in some measure unacquainted.4

I have been thus particular, lest under colour5 of hard weather, the vessel should run towards Baltimore.6 I have the Honor to be Your Excellency’s Most Obedt Servant

Go: Washington

LS, in Tench Tilghman’s writing, MdAA; Df, DLC:GW; Varick transcript, DLC:GW.

1GW’s assistant secretary James McHenry, who prepared the draft manuscript, initially wrote “under a pretence of sending necessaries and money” at this place. He then struck out those words and wrote “in order to supply” above the line.

2See Henry Clinton to GW, 9 and 27 February.

3See GW to Henry Clinton, 14 Feb. and this date.

4Following this paragraph on the draft manuscript, McHenry wrote and struck out an indented sentence: “Perhaps it would not be an unnecessary precaution, to direct some of the small cruisers as boats in the service of the State to keep an eye on the bay, least, under cover of hard weather the vessel should steer towards Baltimore.”

5At this place on the draft manuscript, McHenry first wrote “cover.” He then struck out the final three letters of that word and wrote “lour” above the line to render “colour.”

6The Maryland Council wrote Commodore Thomas Grason of the state’s navy on 10 March: “By a Letter received yesterday from his Excellency General Washington we are advised of his having granted Permission to a Schooner to proceed to Hampton Road with Necessaries and Money for the Use of the British Prisoners at Fort Frederick and Winchester... There being some Ground to suspect that the Vessel might be designed for Baltimore for other than the ostensible Purpose: if you should fall in with any such Vessel having a Passport or Permission from General Washington; you are to conduct her to Hampton Road and give immediate Notice to the Government of Virginia, that the Permission may have all and only the Effect intended in the granting of it. Your also sending a Copy of this which is given you in Consequence of the General’s Letter, will account for your Conduct” (Md. Archives description begins Archives of Maryland. 72 vols. Baltimore, 1883–1972. description ends , 21:318–19).

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