George Mercer’s Orders
Winchester December 25th 1755.
It is Colonel Washington’s Orders, that Ensigns Polson and Thompson,1 Corporals McDonald and Broughton,2 do immediately go in pursuit of Sergeant Campbell3 and two men who deserted last night; and use all possible means to apprehend and bring them back. As an encouragement for apprehending them, the Colonel promises a reward of twenty-shillings for each of them, to the two Corporals.
G:M. Aid de camp
N:B. That two of the above Deserters were brought in by John Rins; and a certificate given him, to entitle him to the reward by Law, for apprehending, and securing Deserters.
It is Colonel Washingtons Orders, that all the Recruits now in this town, except those belonging to the Troop of Light Horse, be under the command of Captain Bell; and that Ensign Thompson act as his Subaltern, until further Orders. The commanding Officers of Companies to give in an exact return to the Commissary to-morrow morning, at 9 O’Clock, of their men, signed by themselves.
The Recruits, belonging to the Troop of Light Horse, to be in Town to-morrow morning, by nine o’clock, and to be drawn up with those under the command of Captain Bell, and have the Articles of War read to them. The Commissary is to deliver out, at ten o’clock to-morrow, three days provision to all the Recruits, agreeable to the returns which he shall receive, signed by the Officers.
As two of the Deserters, mentioned in the morning Orders, are brought in by some country people; those Orders are countermanded.
Any Soldier who shall desert, though he return again, shall be hanged without mercy.
No Soldier, upon any pretence whatsoever, is to go more than a mile, (without leave) from the Town. Any Soldier taken, beyond that distance, will be treated as a Deserter. All orders relating to the men, are constantly to be read to them by an Officer of the Company. The Roll of each Company to be called by a commissioned Officer, morning, noon and night; and a Return of the absent or disorderly to be given in to the commanding Officer of the Regiment.
N:B. The other Deserter was apprehended and brought in by Thomas Waters, a Planter; and a certificate given to entitle him to the Reward.4
1. Nathaniel Thompson was at Williamsburg on 3 Sept. 1755 when GW reported that he was among the newly appointed ensigns in the Virginia Regiment. He was assigned to a company commanded by Carter Henry Harrison (later by his brother Henry Harrison) and seems to have remained for the most part with the main body of the regiment, first at Fort Cumberland and then at Fort Loudoun, until Gen. John Forbes’s expedition in 1758. At Loudoun the “Young Ensign” on one occasion infuriated the superintendent of Indian affairs, Edmond Atkin, and on another he angered Maj. John Baylis of the Prince William County militia. See Atkin to GW, 19 June 1757, and Baylis to GW, 30 Jan. 1758. Thompson’s letter to GW of 20 Feb. 1758 regarding the Baylis affair reveals not only his combative nature but also marks him as better educated than most of his fellow officers, lending some support to the possibility that he was the Nathaniel Thompson who was a student at the college in Williamsburg in 1753 and 1754.
2. Capt. Christopher Gist recruited Cpl. Robert McDonald for his company of scouts on 14 Nov. 1755 in Lancaster, Pa. William Broughton, who joined the Virginia forces in Mar. 1754, was a corporal in Robert Stewart’s company of light horse.
4. This was probably the Thomas Waters who lived in Frederick County.