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Session of Virginia Council of State, 27 February 1778

Session of Virginia Council of State

MS (Virginia State Library).

Friday February 27th 1778

present
His Excellency;
Dudley Digges James Madison jr
John Blair And
David Jameson Bolling Stark1
Esquires

On Considering the proceedings of a general Court Martial of Militia Officers held in Louisa County on Richard Anderson Esquire County Lieutenant: the Board approve the Sentence of the Court Martial & advise His Excellency to discontinue the said Richard Anderson as County Lieutenant agreeable to the said Sentence.2

The proceedings of a general Court Martial on the trial of Lieutenants Walker Richardson of the second Regiment of State Troops for fighting a Duel with Lieutenant Triplett of the same Regiment3 Contrary to the Articles of War section 7th & Article Second, being laid by the Governor before the Board for their Opinion thereupon and it appearing that the said Richardson was Sentenced by the said Court to be cashiered for a Breach of the said Article, but that inasmuch as he had conducted himself as a Gentleman & Officer it was recommended that he be reinstated to his former Rank: The Council taking the same into Consideration are unanimously of Opinion that the said Sentence be Confirmed, & to shew their abhorrence of the practice of Duelling notwithstanding the Recommendation of the Court advised his Excellency to let him remain Cashiered; which the Governor orders accordingly.4

The County Lieutenant of Loudoin5 having complained to the Governor that the Draught of Militia which was appointed to be made in that County on the 16th of this month agreeable to a late Act of Assembly was prevented by the violent & riotous behaviour of the people, in Consequence of which the 11th of March was appointed for Compleating that necessary Business, but that without some exertions of Government there was little reason to expect a more successful Issue than before and the Governor asking the opinion of the Board thereupon they advised his Excellency to give Orders that in case of another Opposition to the Draught the County Lieutenant transmit to him the names of the ring leaders on that occasion, & that he farther desire the Attorney General to prosecute such offenders in the General Court, with the utmost rigour of the Law.6

Adjourned till tomorrow 10 oClock

Signed  Dudley Digges
John Blair
David Jameson
James Madison
Bolling Stark

1Bolling Stark (1733–1788) was named to the Council of State on 24 January 1778 and took his seat on 18 February. He had been a burgess and delegate from Dinwiddie County, and a member of the Convention of May 1776. He would be the state auditor from 1781 to 1783 (Journal of the House of Delegates description begins Journal of the House of Delegates of the Commonwealth of Virginia; Begun and Held At the Capitol, in the City of Williamsburg. Beginning in 1780, the portion after the semicolon reads, Begun and Held in the Town of Richmond. In the County of Henrico. The Journal for each session has its own title page and is individually paginated. The edition used, unless otherwise noted, is the one in which the journals for 1777–1781 are brought together in one volume, with each journal published in Richmond in 1827 or 1828, and often called the “Thomas W. White reprint.” description ends , October 1777, pp. 131, 134; Journals of the Council of State, II, 84; Lyon G. Tyler, ed., Encyclopedia of Virginia Biography, I, 330).

2Early in 1777, Colonel Richard Anderson (1735–1819) had been acquitted by a court-martial of improperly performing his duties as county lieutenant. On 28 October 1777 he was again suspended, this time for “Mal-Conduct” in forming the militia of Louisa “into Divisions for raising the Quota of Men required to be sent from the said County (by the Lieutenant Governor) to this City (Williamsburg) when an Invasion was apprehended.” Two months before, the lieutenant governor had ordered Anderson to send two companies “forthwith” to the capital. Perhaps he took the “forthwith” too literally and rushed makeshift companies to Williamsburg without regard for his rotation rosters and without making provisions for replacements, as was ordered in “An act for providing against Invasions & Insurrections,” passed on 28 June 1777 (Journals of the Council of State, I, 266–67, 351, 467; II, 18; Hening, Statutes description begins William Waller Hening, ed., The Statutes at Large; being a Collection of all the Laws of Virginia, from the First Session of the Legislature, in the Year 1619 (13 vols.; Richmond and Philadelphia, 1819–23). description ends , IX, 291–97). Despite his conviction by court-martial in 1778, Anderson was elected to the House of Delegates in 1780–1781. He had also been a burgess from 1765 to 1774, a member of his county’s Committee of Safety in 1775, and several times a justice of the county court (Earl G. Swem and John W. Williams, eds., Register of the General Assembly, p. 11; William G. and Mary Newton Stanard, comps., The Colonial Virginia Register, pp. 170–96; Malcolm H. Harris, History of Louisa County, pp. 18, 21, 23, 52, 54).

3According to John H. Gwathmey, Historical Register of Virginians in the Revolution, p. 662, Walker Richardson (d. ca. 1783) of James City County became a second lieutenant in the 1st Continental Artillery on 4 March 1778, after serving with the same rank in the state line from 22 April 1777 until he was cashiered ten months later (Journals of the Council of State, I, 395, 495). His opponent in the duel must have been Roger Triplett (d. post-1791), a lieutenant in the 2d Virginia Regiment. Triplett was court-martialed in May 1779 for “ungentleman-like behaviour in drinking and carousing with the common soldiers.” The verdict cleared him of the charges of being ungentlemanly and a carouser, but he was reprimanded for drinking with the rank and file. On 22 August 1779 he was cashiered for appearing drunk on the parade ground. He is said, however, to have participated in the siege of Yorktown about two years later. After the Revolution he moved to Edgefield County, S.C. (John Gwathmey, Historical Register of Virginians in the Revolution, p. 782; Fitzpatrick, Writings of Washington description begins John C. Fitzpatrick, ed., The Writings of George Washington, from the Original Sources, 1745–1799 (39 vols.; Washington, D.C., 1931–44). description ends , XV, 69; XVI, 150; Katherine Baughman Hocker, comp., genealogical chart of the Triplett family [1945], in Virginia State Library; Heads of Families: South Carolina [Washington, 1908], p. 61).

4Section XI of the Articles of War adopted by the Virginia Convention of July 1775 provided for punishment “at the discretion of a general court-martial” of any officer or soldier convicted of abetting or participating in a duel (Hening, Statutes description begins William Waller Hening, ed., The Statutes at Large; being a Collection of all the Laws of Virginia, from the First Session of the Legislature, in the Year 1619 (13 vols.; Richmond and Philadelphia, 1819–23). description ends , IX, 38). The Articles of War adopted by Congress on 20 September 1776 directed a court-martial at its discretion to cashier any officer of the army of the United States who permitted, abetted, or shared in a duel (Journals of the Continental Congress, V, 793).

5Francis Peyton (1748–ca. 1814) was three times county lieutenant between 1774 and 1790. He also served as a burgess from 1769 to 1775, a member of the county Committee of Safety from 1774 to 1775, a member of all the state Revolutionary conventions of 1775 and 1776, a trustee for the towns of Colchester, Alexandria, and Middleburg, a delegate to the General Assembly three times between 1776 and 1787, and state senator from 1791 to 1811 (Loudoun County Court Records, Order Book F, p. 497, microfilm in Virginia State Library; William G. and Mary Newton Stanard, comps., The Colonial Virginia Register, pp. 180–99 and 201–9, passim; Horace E. Hayden, Virginia Genealogies, p. 506; Earl G. Swem and John W. Williams, eds., Register of the General Assembly, pp. 1–24, 36–80, passim).

6The discipline of the Virginia militia had so far deteriorated by 1778 that on 1 June the General Assembly strengthened the control of commanding officers (Journal of the House of Delegates description begins Journal of the House of Delegates of the Commonwealth of Virginia; Begun and Held At the Capitol, in the City of Williamsburg. Beginning in 1780, the portion after the semicolon reads, Begun and Held in the Town of Richmond. In the County of Henrico. The Journal for each session has its own title page and is individually paginated. The edition used, unless otherwise noted, is the one in which the journals for 1777–1781 are brought together in one volume, with each journal published in Richmond in 1827 or 1828, and often called the “Thomas W. White reprint.” description ends , May 1778, p. 35). The need for such legislation had become obvious when an attempted draft of military eligibles in Loudoun County led to rioting on 2 and 3 February. Not until 12 May did the local authorities have the situation sufficiently in hand to bring the nine alleged ringleaders into court for a jury trial. Two of the accused were acquitted. The others were sentenced to punishment ranging from a fine of £3 to a fine of £50 and twenty days in prison. Upon confession by the convicted men of “sorrow and Contrition of heart,” the fines were suspended and the terms of imprisonment remitted (Loudoun County Court Records, Order Book G, p. 93, microfilm in Virginia State Library).

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