George Washington Papers
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To George Washington from Brigadier General William Smallwood, 8 April 1778

From Brigadier General William Smallwood

Wilmington [Del.] April 8th 1778

Dear Sir,

Inclosed is a letter, I fancy from Governor Johnson, forwarded by the bearer hereof Mr Burrell who informs me that he left his son about fourteen Months ago with his Brother about 12 Miles above Philada upon the Schuylkill to Learn the Bleaching trade,1 his Brother having taken refuge with the Enemy Carried his son without his Privity with him & having understood that his brother sent the boy out upon his Business he was taken by some of our parties. Mr Burrell therefore being Anxious to recover his son waits on your Excellency for that purpose should his son be captured as it is represented; my Knowledge of Mr Burrell & his Attachment to the Liberty and Interests of America and his having had two sons in our service induces me to recommend him as a proper person to extend this Indulgence to, as I am Conscious it was by no act of his, or perhaps of his sons, that he went to the Enemy.

As a General Exchange of Prisoners is like to take place, allow me to solicite you in behalf of Lieuts. Dent, Wright, Muse, & Praul Officers of my old Regt taken on long Island the 27th of August 1776, who have remain’d ever since in Captivity, tho’ Numbers of like rank taken long after that period have been exchang’d, they were good Officers & Merritted a better fate & therefore hope your Excellency will order them to be included in the first exchange,2 Nothing new here at present. I wou’d beg leave to Submit the Expediency of the removal of the stores & forrage in the Peninsula below this, as Speedy as Possible, the Superintendant Colo. Hollingsworth is distress’d for Waggons &ca but it is not in my power to Aid him with Consistency &c. I have the Honor to be Dr sir Your very Obdt Hble servt

W. Smallwood


1The enclosed letter has not been identified. Daniel Burrell operated a bleaching field in 1776 and 1777 near John Roberts’s mill in Lower Merion Township, Philadelphia County.

2These four officers appear as lieutenants on Elias Boudinot’s list of prisoners exchanged 20 April 1778, although all four were given commissions as captain dated before their exchange (see Boudinot to GW, 22 April, n.1). Hatch Dent (1751–1799) had been commissioned a lieutenant of Smallwood’s Maryland regiment on 3 Jan. 1776, and his commission as a captain in the 2d Maryland Regiment was dated 17 April 1777. Dent resigned in November 1778. Samuel Turbutt Wright (1748–1810) of Queen Anne’s County became a second lieutenant in Capt. Edward Veazey’s Independent Company on 2 Jan. 1776. His commission as captain of the 2d Maryland Regiment was dated 10 Dec. 1776. After resigning his commission on 1 July 1779, Wright served on the Maryland executive council from 1780 through 1786 and as the state’s adjutant general from 1807 to 1810. Walker Muse had been commissioned an ensign in Smallwood’s regiment in January 1776 and promoted to second lieutenant in May of that year. His commission as captain of the 1st Maryland Regiment was dated from 10 Jan. 1777. Muse served to the end of the war, receiving the rank of brevet major in September 1783. Edward Prall (Praul; 1754–1803) had been commissioned an ensign in Smallwood’s regiment in January 1776 and promoted to second lieutenant in March of that year. His commission as a captain in the 1st Maryland Regiment was dated 10 June 1777. Prall retired from the army on 1 Jan. 1783 and later represented Harford County in the Maryland house of delegates, 1791–93 and 1796.

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