George Washington Papers

From George Washington to John Hancock, 8 July 1776

To John Hancock

New York July 8th 1776


Congress having resolved to raise a Regiment of Germans to counteract the designs of our Enemies, I must beg leave to recommend to their notice John David Wilpert, now a first Lieutenant in Col. Shee’s Battallion, to the office of Captain in said Regiment. I am personally acquainted with him and know that he Joined the Virginia forces under my command in the year 1754 and continued in service the whole War, during which he conducted himself as an active, vigilant, and brave Officer he is a German, and his merit as a Soldier entitles him much to the Office he wishes for. I have the Honor to be with great esteem Sir yr most Obed. Servt

Go: Washington

LS, in Robert Hanson Harrison’s writing, DNA:PCC, item 152; LB, DLC:GW; copy, DNA:PCC, item 169; copy, DLC: Hancock Papers; Varick transcript, DLC:GW.

GW wrote a similar letter on this date to the Pennsylvania committee of safety: “At the request of an old Officer of mine, and who at present is a first Lieutt in Colo. Sheas Battalion, I am induced to recommend him to the Honble Committee as a fit person to command a Company in the German Battn directed by a Resolution of Congress to be raised in your Provence.

“John David Wilpert late of your City is the person I mean[.] He is a German by birth—was a Soldier in his own Country—Served many years as an Officer in the Regiment I had the honour to command in the Virgia Service—always supported the character of a diligent & brave Officer—and as far as I know & believe is a man of good character; If therefore he could be appointed to the Command of a Company in the above Regiment, I would, from my knowledge of the man, pledge myself for his good behaviour, and meriting of it” (LB, MdAA).

In its resolution of 26 June directing the mode of raising the German Battalion, Congress authorized the Pennsylvania committee of safety to enlist four companies of Germans in that state and to appoint the necessary officers. Officers for the battalion’s other four companies, which were to be recruited in Maryland, were to be named by that state’s convention or council of safety (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 , 5:487–88). GW’s letter to the Pennsylvania committee arrived after the committee had chosen its four captains, but on 17 July Congress resolved to add a ninth company to the German Battalion and appointed Woelpper its captain (ibid., 571; see also the Pennsylvania Committee of Safety to GW, 11 July, and GW to Hancock, 22 July). Woelpper served in the German Battalion until June 1778 when he was transferred to the Corps of Invalids on account of advanced age and bodily infirmity (see GW to Lewis Nicola, 9 June 1778, DLC:GW). Woelpper left the army in April 1783.

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