George Washington Papers

To George Washington from La Force, March 1759

From La Force

[c.March 1759]

Monsieur

Comme Jespere que maintenant que vous estes en pocession du fort Duquesne que les difficultées Sont Levées qui Empéchoit mon Echange avec Le Sr stobo—Cest ce qui m’engage a vous Importuner Encore une fois; et vous Prier de Vouloir Bien Vous Employer aupres de Mr Votre Gouverneu⟨r⟩ pour me retirer du honteux Esclavage ou Je suis depuis Si longtems, et dobtenir que Je sois Envoyer a la Nouvelle york par L’epreuve Batiment qui partira;1 auquel endroit Je Serai en lieu de Travailler a me faire changer plus facilement que D’Icy. Je Crois que le Sr stobo meritte Bien que les Gentilhommes de Cette Colonie Sinteressent a Le faire revenir a sa patrie En me relachant des prisons, Vous priant en même tems Monsieur que Si ma demande vous Est accordé que Je sois ⟨en⟩ peu Elargie Sur ma parolle, affin que je reprenne un peu de forces Et que Je m’accoutume au grand air.2 dans Lesperance ou Je suis que vous avez assez de Generosité pour me rendre ce Service. Jay lhonneur destre trés respectueusement Monsieur Votre Tres humble Tres obeissant Serviteur

La Force

ALS, DLC:GW. The cover of the letter, directing it to “Monsieur Le Colonel Washington. a Williamsburg,” indicates that it was addressed to GW at a time that he was in Williamsburg, and the contents of the letter establish that La Force wrote it not long after the French gave up Fort Duquesne and while he himself was still being held in Williamsburg. GW arrived in Williamsburg after the campaign in Pennsylvania about 27 Dec. 1758 and stayed for only a few days. He also attended the session of the Virginia assembly that convened in Williamsburg on 22 Feb. 1759. La Force was himself gone from Williamsburg by mid-March 1759.

La Force (Michel Pépin) was the French commissary of stores on the upper Ohio when GW’s forces captured him and three young French officers near Fort Necessity in the spring of 1754. Lt. Gov. Robert Dinwiddie sent the other three prisoners to Britain in the summer of 1755 but kept La Force, “a most wicked Fellow,” a prisoner in Williamsburg (Dinwiddie to Thomas Robinson, 1 Oct. 1755, ViHi: Dinwiddie Papers). After a move to exchange La Force for Capt. Robert Stobo (see Andrew Lewis to GW, 31 Oct. 1758, n.2) came to nothing in the spring of 1756, La Force broke out of the jail at Williamsburg but was recaptured two days later. In May 1757 GW “Gave Monsr La force 4£” (Ledger A description begins Manuscript Ledger Book 1, 1750-72, in George Washington Papers, Library of Congress. description ends , 35). Whether through GW’s intervention prompted by this letter or not, La Force was shortly sent to New York “Sur ma parolle.” Fauquier wrote Jeffrey Amherst on 17 Mar. 1759: “We are desirous in this Colony to release Stobo; and we have accordingly sent La Force to New York to Governor [James] De Lancey, on his parole; in Order to be exchanged for him, which we earnestly desire may be insisted on” (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 , 1:186–87).

1This ship may have been one of two Virginia-owned schooners named Tryall that were on the New York to Hampton run during the spring of 1759 (P.R.O., C.O. 1448, 19).

2Since La Force’s attempted escape in 1756 he had been closely confined. According to an early nineteenth-century historian he “was loaded with a double weight of irons, and chained to the floor of his dungeon” (Burk, History of Virginia description begins John Burk et al. The History of Virginia, from Its First Settlement to the Present Day. 4 vols. Petersburg, Va., 1804–16. description ends , 3:193).

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