George Washington Papers

To George Washington from William Brockenbrough, 29 September 1755

From William Brockenbrough

Richmond [County]
the 29th of Sepr 1755

Dr Colo. Washington

The Parental feelings I have at the parting with a dutifull Son1 I hope will be some apoligie for my troubling you with this Epistle, his great inclination to go into the Army, and the friends he has got & the favours he has receiv’d made it quite agreeable to his going But I am afraid as he’s young and knowing little of the world or mankind That he’l be more lyable to Errors, But D. Sr if I cou’d but prevail on you To favour him with a look now & then & if you find him inclin’d to do amiss That you wou’d spare him one word of advice, and in case of sickness that you wou’d just see him & give him a word of comfort for fear of his Spirit Fail’g then I shou’d be entirely easie and I am sure that a word from you at those times will do wonders with him.

He now comes up to inform you that he has Try’d Every place where there was the least liklyhood of getting recruits but to little purpose, for the People are deaf to reason perswasion & Even intrest for his friends had got two pistoles to give Every Man besides what he wou’d give him self in short they are determin’d not to go till they are forced and wn it comes to that I can’t help dreading the Consequence tho’ I realy beleive that if the Law was put in Exec. that Several wou’d then take the money freely But they won’t beleive there is such a law,2 My son listed at first two pretty young Fellows his Neighbours as recruiting Serjeants & thot it wou’d be some Encouragmt to others but nothing will do. I realy beleive those two Young Fellows Vizt Wm Stuart Packet & Jno. Sallard3 are deserving Fellows & only Want to be just above the Common Soldiers which I hope they will if yo. think they deserve it, As tis impossible to get his full compliment of Men by recruiting he comes up for your orders but is desireous of Staying to be inform’d and make himself Perfect in his duty as Leiutenant, and wn The Law is put in Exc. we have in the Neighbourhood Young Men Eno’ Which he is to have Directly—There is one favour more I have to beg and then have done, he has a great desire to be under Capt. Henry Woodward4 and if it suites I shou’d be highly pleas’d.

May the Almighty direct and Enable you to drive those Mercely Savages out of our once happy Country and force them to a Lasting peace that may be to the Glory of God & honour to yr King & Country & Eternal Satisfaction and happiness to yr self, these are & shall be the Sincere prayers of your most hble Servt

Wm Brockenbrough


William Brockenbrough (1715–1778) was a planter in Richmond County. Like his better-known neighbors John Tayloe and Landon Carter, he took a lifelong interest in the affairs of the county’s court and of Lunenburg Parish.

1The son to whom he refers is the Austin Brockenbrough who was listed as present in Williamsburg on 3 Sept. when GW named him among the newly appointed lieutenants in the Virginia Regiment. He was 16 years old. Lieutenant Brockenbrough spent the fall recruiting and in early 1756 got his wish when he joined Capt. Henry Woodward’s company. He served with Woodward until the end of the year. In 1761 he married Lucy Champe, daughter of John Champe of King George County and sister of the wife of GW’s brother Samuel. He remained loyal to Britain after the outbreak of the Revolution and lived in London throughout the war.

2Article X of the Virginia Assembly’s act for raising £40,000 (6 Hening 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. 1819–23. Reprint. Charlottesville, Va., 1969. description ends 521–30) reads in part: “And in case the said number of men cannot be raised, by such as will voluntarily inlist in the said service within three months, after the passing this act, it shall . . . be lawful, for the field officers and captains of the militia, of each of the counties in this colony, . . . by direction from the governor, to draft out of the militia of their counties . . . such and so many of their militia . . . as will make up the said number.”

3William Stuart Packet and John Sallard, both 24 years old in 1755 and both residents of Richmond County, were made noncommissioned officers in GW’s company in the Virginia Regiment, Packet a corporal and Sallard a sergeant when GW took over one of the companies in July 1756. Sallard died in Richmond County in 1782 without issue.

4According to Gov. Francis Fauquier, writing from Williamsburg in 1761, Henry Woodward “was bred in his Majesty’s Navy, where he serv’d some Years and was patroniz’d by . . . Admiral Boscawen; upon his coming on this Station, he left the Sea-Service, to serve his Majesty by land, against the French upon the first breaking out of this War” (Fauquier to George, Lord Anson, 10 Dec. 1761, in Reese, Fauquier description begins George Reese, ed. The Official Papers of Francis Fauquier, Lieutenant Governor of Virginia, 1758–1768. 3 vols. Charlottesville, Va., 1980–83. description ends , 2:611–12). Woodward was in Fredericksburg by April 1755, when Braddock was staging his expedition in Alexandria. He served in Braddock’s campaign as a lieutenant in the Virginia forces. When forming the Virginia Regiment after Braddock’s defeat, Dinwiddie promoted Woodward “(tho. a Young Man)” to captain on the recommendation of James Abercromby, the colony’s agent in London, and advanced him £30 “to equip him for the Service” (Dinwiddie to Abercromby, 24 Feb. 1756, ViHi: Dinwiddie Papers). Woodward’s date of rank was set at 25 Aug. 1755, making his company number 10 of 16 in the regiment. He remained with the regiment, without interruption, as a company commander on the frontier until late in 1761. As the regiment was at this time about to be disbanded, Woodward decided to return to Britain in order to seek an appointment as a “Sea Officer” on the Great Lakes (Fauquier to Lord Anson, 10 Dec. 1761, in Reese, Fauquier description begins George Reese, ed. The Official Papers of Francis Fauquier, Lieutenant Governor of Virginia, 1758–1768. 3 vols. Charlottesville, Va., 1980–83. description ends , 2:612).

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