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To George Washington from Captain Patrick Campbell, 28 November 1779

From Captain Patrick Campbell

Cumberland Providence Plantation [R.I.] Novr 28th 1779


The improbability of its coming to your knowledge, through any other channel, the perhaps singular hardships, I lay under, by being a prisoner; Induces me to take the liberty of writing you, and Craving your attention for a moment.

Permit me to inform you, that I left Georgia the 12th of this Month, Bound for New-York, with a view to reestablish my Health; And support my pretentions to promotion.

I need not inform you, how prejudicial to the latter, my remaining a prisoner will be; and to the former, the unavoidable Circumstances, attending upon that situation.

The loss of Health, and disappointment in promotion, to a Military man, are two of the greatest evils, that can happen [to] him.

In War, it may be found proper and necessary, to remove Prisoners from one place to another; My valetudinary state of health, will not enable me to go through with it; I have already suffered a relapse by it; And I am Just now informed, I must be further removed to Ruttland.1

Urged by these reasons, suffer me to request of you; leave to be immediately exchanged; Or permit me to go to New-york upon my parole, there to remain, untill my health is established; or I am regularly exchanged.

Hoping there is no impropriety in my request; And that you’ll pardon the freedom I have taken: I flatter myself with the hope of a favourable issue2 and I have the honour to be, with the highest respect. Your Most Obedient Servt

Pat: Campbell
Captn 71st Regt British


Patrick Campbell (d. 1782) joined the 103d Regiment of Foot as a lieutenant in June 1762. He became a captain in the 71st Regiment of Foot in May 1776 and sailed from New York to Savannah in late 1778. After seeing heavy fighting at Stono Ferry, S.C., on 20 June 1779 and participating in the successful defense of Savannah that fall, Campbell sailed for New York on the “sloop Crawford” (New-York Gazette: and the Weekly Mercury, 13 Dec. 1779). An account of Campbell’s capture appeared in The Providence Gazette; and Country Journal for 27 Nov. under the heading of Newport, 25 Nov. (Thursday): “Monday night last a sloop from Savannah, bound to New-York, put into this harbour (supposing the Britons were still in possession of it) where she was taken proper care of, together with her crew and passengers, consisting of Captain Campbell, of the 71st British regiment, 2 Lieutenants of the navy, a Mr. [Gillam] Butler, Deputy Commissary-General of the southern (British) army, and 28 petty officers and seamen. This vessel left Tybee river [Roads] the 12th inst.” Rhode Island officials detained Campbell until he obtained a parole that allowed him to enter New York (see Jabez Bowen to GW, 5 Feb. 1780, and Tench Tilghman to Abraham Skinner, 19 Feb. 1780, both DLC:GW). Campbell was exchanged for Capt. John Willis of the 2d Virginia Regiment on 25 Oct. and near that date purchased the rank of major. He controversially married Sarah Pearsall from a prominent New York Quaker family in January 1781 (see Pearsall Family, description begins Clarence E. Pearsall, ed., Hettie May Pearsall, asst. ed., and Harry L. Neall. History and Genealogy of The Pearsall Family in England and America. 3 vols. San Francisco, 1928. description ends 2:1074–122).

1Campbell is referring to the prisoner barracks at Rutland, Mass. (see GW to John Beatty, 30 Oct., n.1).

2GW replied to Campbell from Morristown, N.J., on 20 Dec.: “Till certain obstructions are removed that have been unfortunately thrown in the way of general and particular exchanges it is out of my power to comply with your request in either of the instances contained in your letter of the 28th November. When this shall take place, it will give me pleasure to concur in measures for your relief, and those gentlemen in captivity” (Df, in James McHenry’s writing, DLC:GW; Varick transcript, DLC:GW). At the end of the draft, McHenry wrote and then struck out the start of a sentence that reads: “I am sorry that any.”

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