George Washington Papers

From George Washington to Lieutenant Colonel Robert Hanson Harrison, 9 January 1777

To Lieutenant Colonel Robert Hanson Harrison

Morris Town Jany 9th 1777.

My dear Harrison,

I often intended, but before I had it in my power forgot, to ask you whether your Brother in law Majr Johnston would not, in your opinion, make a good Aid de Camp to me, I know it is a question that will involve you in some difficulty, but I beg you will not consider the Connexion between you in answering of it.1 I have heard that Majr Johnston is a Man of Education. I beleive him to be a Man of Sense—these are two very necessary qualification’s; but how is his temper? As to Military knowledge, I do not expect to find Gentlemen much skilled in it—If they can write a good Letter—write quick—are methodical, & deligent, it is all I expect to find in my Aids. do not therefore if Mr Johnston possesses these qualities, and a good disposition, refrain (from false modesty) to withhold your recommendation; because in that case you will do him injustice, & me a disservice.

If you think Mr Johnston will suit me as well as any other, I should prefer him; & therefore beg that he may be sent hither immediately, as Webb only waits the arrival of another Aid to set out for Connecticut. I am ever Yr Affecte friend & Obedt Servt

Go: Washington

ALS, DNA: RG 233, HR 22 A-B1, HR-155.

1Harrison, who apparently went to Philadelphia to get immunized against the smallpox, was married to George Johnston’s sister Sarah. The Johnstons’ father, George Johnston, Sr. (d. 1766), a prominent Fairfax, Va., attorney and burgess who lived near Mount Vernon, had been well acquainted with GW since the French and Indian War, and their mother, Sarah McCarty Johnston, was the sister of GW’s old friend Daniel McCarty. George Johnston, Jr. (1750–1777), served as clerk of the Loudoun County committee in May 1775, and on 21 Sept. 1775 he was appointed a captain in the 2d Virginia Regiment. Promoted to major of the 5th Virginia Regiment on 13 Aug. 1776, Johnston marched north with his regiment in mid-December 1776 to join GW’s army in Bucks County, Pa. (see Johnston to Leven Powell, 12 Dec. 1776, in “Old Virginia Line,” description begins Lyon G. Tyler. “The Old Virginia Line in the Middle States during the American Revolution.” Tyler’s Quarterly Historical and Genealogical Magazine 12 (1930–31): 1–43, 90–141, 198–203, 283–89. description ends 102–3). Johnston began his duties as an aide-de-camp to GW on 20 Jan. 1777 (see General Orders, that date), and he served until his death at Morristown sometime during the late spring of this year (see Purdie and Dixon’s Virginia Gazette [Williamsburg], 13 June 1777). Johnston, said Martha Daingerfield Bland in a letter to her sister-in-law Frances Bland Randolph, “is exceedingly witty at everybody’s expense but cant allow other people to be so at his own, tho they often take the liberty” (N.J. Hist. Soc. Proceedings description begins Proceedings of the New Jersey Historical Society. 84 vols. Newark, N.J., 1845–1966. description ends , 51 [1933], 250–53).

Index Entries