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To George Washington from Colonel Alexander Martin, 16 May 1777

From Colonel Alexander Martin

Alexandria [Va.] May 16th 1777

May it please your Excellency,

Five Days ago, I arrived at this place with the first Division of the North Carolina Troops, and expect two more will arrive to morrow, and am sorry that we are compelled to halt for some Time to under go Innoculation for the Small Pox before we can join you. The marching and countermarching of the N. Carolina Troops last Winter and this Spring to and from Charlestown has much retarded our Northern Duty and prevented our being much earlier at your Head Quarters.

I cannot at present transmit to your Excellency a full and proper State of our Troops by the late unexpected Death of General Moore who was to have marched with me whose papers are not in my possession;1 and can only inform you that the nine N. Carolina Battalions consisted of about 1500 Officers and Men when they marched from Halifax in that State. Gen. Nash in a short Time will follow us, who first is to regulate the recruiting Service there agreeable to the Instructions of Congress.2

Colo. Jethro Sumner of the 3d N. Carolina Battalion a worthy good Officer waits on you with this, who commands a Detachment of all those Soldiers from the several Battalions who have had the Small pox agreeable to a late Resolve of Congress who, on every Occasion will gladly receive your Commands.3

In the mean Time, I shall take every Step to hasten the Recovery of our Troops, and march to you with the utmost Expedition or where ever you will please to order us. I am with the Utmost Respect Your Excellency’s Most obedient humble Servant

Alex: Martin
Colo. 2 Bat. N.C. Troops

ALS, DLC:GW.

Alexander Martin (c.1740–1807), a native of New Jersey who had settled in Salisbury, N.C., a few years after his 1756 graduation from the College of New Jersey at Princeton, moved in 1773 to Guilford County, N.C., which he represented in the house of commons from 1773 to 1774 and the second and third provincial congresses in 1775. Martin was appointed lieutenant colonel of the 2d North Carolina Regiment on 1 Sept. 1775, and he became its colonel on 7 May 1776 (see JCC description begins Worthington Chauncey Ford et al., eds. Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774-1789. 34 vols. Washington, D.C., 1904–37. description ends , 4:332). His regiment participated in the defense of Charleston, S.C., in June 1776, and it marched north with the other North Carolina regiments in the spring of 1777 to join GW’s army. Accused of cowardice at the Battle of Germantown on 4 Oct. 1777, Martin was acquitted of the charge by a court-martial on 13 Oct. (see General Orders, 30 Oct. 1777), and he resigned his commission on 22 Nov. 1777. Martin was elected to the North Carolina senate in 1778. He was acting governor of the state in 1781, governor by election in 1782, 1787, 1789–92, and a U.S. senator from 1793 to 1799.

1James Moore (1737–1777), a planter from New Hanover County, N.C., who had commanded a provincial company during the French and Indian War and had been colonel of Governor Tryon’s artillery at the Battle of Alamance in 1771, served in the house of commons from 1764 to 1771 and in 1773, and in 1775 he was a delegate to the third provincial congress, which on 1 Sept. appointed him colonel of the 1st North Carolina Regiment. The Continental Congress on 1 Mar. 1776 named Moore commander of the Continental forces in North Carolina with the rank of brigadier general (see JCC description begins Worthington Chauncey Ford et al., eds. Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774-1789. 34 vols. Washington, D.C., 1904–37. description ends , 4:181). He died of natural causes at Wilmington, N.C., on 9 April 1777 while preparing to march the North Carolina Continentals north to join GW’s army.

2Francis Nash (c.1742–1777), a native of Amelia County, Va., who had moved to Hillsborough, N.C., by 1763, served in the house of commons in 1764–65, 1771, and 1773–75, and he was a delegate to the second and third provincial congresses in 1775. At the Battle of Alamance in 1771 Nash served as a captain in Governor Tryon’s army. Appointed lieutenant colonel of the 1st North Carolina Regiment on 1 Sept. 1775, Nash succeeded James Moore as its colonel in April 1776, and on 5 Feb. 1777 the Continental Congress made Nash a brigadier general particularly responsible for raising men in western North Carolina (see JCC description begins Worthington Chauncey Ford et al., eds. Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774-1789. 34 vols. Washington, D.C., 1904–37. description ends , 7:90). Nash took command of the North Carolina brigade after the Moore’s death in April, but he did not join GW’s army until July. Struck in the thigh by a cannonball at the Battle of Germantown on 4 Oct. 1777, Nash died three days later.

3Jethro Sumner (c.1733–1785), a native of Nansemond County, Va., who had been appointed an ensign in GW’s Virginia Regiment on 12 July 1756 and a lieutenant in Col. William Byrd’s 2d Virginia Regiment in 1758, moved to North Carolina soon after the end of the French and Indian War and became a tavern keeper and planter in Bute (later Warren) County. A member of the third provincial congress in 1775, Sumner was appointed major of the Halifax district regiment minutemen by the provincial congress on 9 Sept. 1775, and on 7 May 1776 the Continental Congress named Sumner colonel of the 3d North Carolina Regiment (see JCC description begins Worthington Chauncey Ford et al., eds. Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774-1789. 34 vols. Washington, D.C., 1904–37. description ends , 4:332). After serving in South Carolina during 1776 and the Philadelphia campaign in 1777, Sumner returned home in the spring of 1778 because of ill health. On 9 Jan. 1779 the Continental Congress appointed Sumner a brigadier general (see ibid., 13:46), and although he spent much of the remainder of the war recruiting in North Carolina, he commanded a brigade at the Battle of Stono Ferry, S.C., in June 1779 and at the Battle of Eutaw Springs, S.C., in September 1781.

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