George Washington Papers

To George Washington from George Walton, 9 January 1777

From George Walton

Philadelphia, 9th January, 1777.


As a general Cartelle between your Excellency, in behalf of the united states, and the Commanders of the British army and navy, has been settled, I take the liberty of enclosing to your Excellency a list of the names of the Officers and men of an armed Boat which were taken in May last by Captain Stanhope, of the Raven, while in the service of the state I have the honor to represent; and I have this day recieved information that they are now confined in a prison-ship in the harbor of New-York. The fortune of war having placed several officers and privates, both of the british Fleet and army in the power of your Officers in Georgia, I was informed that an Exchange was proposed to Captain Stanhope before he brought our people away; and that he declined it, alledging that he had no orders to that purpose. As these men have been a long time in a most disagreeable and painful confinement, and several of them having Families, I must earnestly request that your Excellency will either demand Captain Brown and his men in exchange for any prisoners which have been delivered to the enemy, or that you will apply for their release upon an assurance that an equal number of Officers and men, which are now in Georgia, shall be given up to the Commanding Officer at Augustine, or to any other Officer that may be empowered to recieve them.1 I have the honor to be, Sir, with the most perfect esteem, Your Excellency’s very humble Servant,

Geo. Walton


George Walton (c.1749–1804) was born in piedmont Virginia in either Prince Edward or Cumberland county and worked for a time as a carpenter’s apprentice before moving to Savannah in the late 1760s, where he studied law, passed the bar, and quickly became one of Georgia’s most prominent attorneys (see Bradshaw, History of Prince Edward County description begins Herbert Clarence Bradshaw. History of Prince Edward County, Virginia: From its Earliest Settlements through its Establishment in 1754 To its Bicentennial Year. Richmond, 1955. description ends , 823–24, and Columbian Centinel and Massachusetts Federalist [Boston], 7 Mar. 1804). In 1775 Walton served as president of the Georgia council of safety, and from 1776 to 1781 he was elected regularly to the Continental Congress, where he signed the Declaration of Independence and served on the executive committee with Robert Morris and George Clymer. During 1778 and 1779 Walton did not attend Congress’s sessions but instead commanded the 1st Georgia Regiment of militia during the seige of Savannah. He was wounded and captured in December 1778 and not exchanged until the fall of 1779. After his exchange he briefly served as governor before returning to Congress. After the war Walton moved to Meadow Garden, his estate near Augusta, and remained active in public service, serving intermittently as a judge of the superior court of the eastern judicial circuit and chief justice between 1783 and 1804. He was also elected governor in 1789 and to fill an unexpired U.S. Senate term in 1795. A trustee of the University of Georgia, and brother to John Walton (d. 1783), who also served as a Georgia delegate to the Continental Congress, Walton died at his estate Meadow Garden.

1The enclosed “List of persons taken by Captain [John] Stanhope, of the Raven man of war, in Savannah River, on the 12th day of May 1776, in an armed Boat in the Service of the State of Georgia” is in DLC:GW. The 14-gun British sloop of war Raven, accompanied by another British vessel, H.M. Cherokee, actually captured the armed schooner on 13 May 1776 as it lay in anchor about four miles off Cockspur Island in the Savannah River (see Master’s Log of H.M. Armed Vessel Cherokee, 12–13 May, and Journal of H.M. Sloop Raven, 12–13 May 1776, in Naval Documents description begins William Bell Clark et al., eds. Naval Documents of the American Revolution. 11 vols. to date. Washington, D.C., 1964–. description ends , 5:81–82, 82). GW on 13 Jan. 1777 sent Lord Howe a copy of the list, which includes the names of Capt. John Brown, Lt. John Langford, and nine crewmen.

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