George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Captain Richard Varick, 23 May 1776

From Captain Richard Varick

Albany May 23d 1776.

May It please Your Excellency

Agreeable to General Schuyler’s Directions to me, I send down (under Charge of Lieut. Van Waggenen) Lieut. Schalch & Dr Gill of the Royal Artillery made Prisoners at St Johns, to be disposed of as Your Excellency shall be pleased to direct. They are on their Parole.1

I also send down Mr John MacDonell one of the Scotch Gentlemen made Prisoner at Johns Town, Tryon County, in January last, He has the General’s Permit to go to Reading in Pensylvania; & Join the Other Gentlemen made Prisoners with him.2 The Conduct of the two former Gentlemen during a Short Stay at Schenectady has proved Unexceptionable.

By the General’s Order I also inclose an Account of Money paid by him or by his Order to Mr Elijah Bennet, Post Rider, Genl Schuyler requests that Bennet may be charged with the Amount. I am Your Excellency’s most Obedt & most Humble sert

Richd Varick

ALS, DNA:PCC, item 159; LB, NN: Schuyler Papers.

Richard Varick (1753–1831), who is best known for supervising the team of clerks who transcribed GW’s Revolutionary War papers between 1781 and 1783, served as military secretary to General Schuyler from June 1775 to September 1776. During that same period Varick also held the rank of captain in the 1st New York Regiment. On 25 Sept. 1776 the Continental Congress appointed Varick deputy mustermaster general to the northern army, and when the mustermaster department was reorganized the following April, he was given the title of deputy mustermaster general of the northern department with the rank of lieutenant colonel. Congress’s resolution abolishing the mustermaster’s department in January 1780 left Varick without a position in the army until August of that year when Gen. Benedict Arnold made him one of his aides-de-camp. Cleared of any complicity in Arnold’s subsequent treason by a court of inquiry on 2 Nov. 1780, Varick became recording secretary to GW on 25 May 1781 and promptly began organizing the headquarters papers at Poughkeepsie, N.Y., where over the next two and a half years they were copied into forty-four bound volumes. “I am fully convinced,” GW wrote to Varick on 1 Jan. 1784, “that neither the present age or posterity will consider the time and labour which have been employed in accomplishing it, unprofitably spent” (NAII).

1Garret H. Van Wagenen (1753–1835) became a second lieutenant in the 1st New York Regiment in June 1775, and in June of this year the Continental Congress appointed him a first lieutenant in Col. Lewis Dubois’s New York regiment. Taken prisoner at the Battle of Long Island in August, Van Wagenen was exchanged in April 1778 and subsequently served as a deputy commissary of prisoners. Lt. Jacob Scalch of the 4th Battalion of the Royal Artillery and Dr. James Gill were taken prisoner at St. Jean the previous November. 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 , 5:481, 6:911.

2Several Scottish immigrants of this name settled in Tryon County, N.Y., in the years before the war and later fought in British or Loyalist regiments. See Palmer, Biographical Sketches of Loyalists description begins Gregory Palmer. Biographical Sketches of Loyalists of the American Revolution. Westport, Conn., and London, 1984. description ends , 536–38.

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