George Washington Papers

Orders to Brigadier General Adam Stephen, 13 January 1777

Orders to Brigadier General Adam Stephen

[Head Quarters, Morristown, 13 January 1777]


Inspect minutely into the State of the five Virginia Regiments now in the Jerseys—retain as many Officers as are necessary for the Men. send (if there are not already a sufficiency) enough to collect, and take care of those at the different hospitals—& otherwise stragled—and let the rest be sent to Virginia in order to Recruit for, and compleat their respective Regiments agreeable to the general Instructions herewith given you which,1 in these Regiments, are to be considered as local—that is, confined to the Commonwealth of Virginia.

No Regiment is to be left without a Field Officer where there is a possibility of avoiding it. In the Instance of Colo. Lawson I did, with great difficulty & reluctance, yield to his entreaties, & the peculiarity of his circumstances, but cannot permit another Regiment to be in the same situation when there is such urgent occasion for them, either in the Field, or in Quarters if we should be permitted to repair to them.2

The Recruits should be sent forwd to their respective Regiments by fifties or upwards as they can be assembled in order that they may be properly provided and disciplind—& be in the way to resist the early attempts of the Enemy in the Spring.

Orders conformable to these you will furnish each Officer with whom you send out upon the Recruiting Service. Given at Head Quarters at Morris Town this 13th day of Jan. 1777.

Go: Washington

ADfS, DLC:GW; Varick transcript, DLC:GW.

1For the enclosed instructions, see GW’s Circular Recruiting Instructions to the Colonels of the Sixteen Additional Continental Regiments, 12–27 Jan. 1777. Stephen’s brigade consisted of the 4th, 5th, and 6th Virginia regiments, which joined GW’s forces in the fall of 1776, and the 1st and 3d Virginia regiments, officially attached to the brigade that George Weedon commanded until his appointment as adjutant general pro tempore on this date. In addition to these five regiments, elements of the 8th and 11th Virginia regiments had also arrived in New Jersey by this time.

2Robert Lawson (1748–1805) of Prince Edward County, Va., a member of the 2d, 3d, and 4th Virginia conventions in 1775 and 1776 and a representative in the Virginia general assembly intermittently from 1778 to 1788, served as major of the 4th Virginia Regiment from 13 Feb. 1776 to 13 Aug. 1776 when he became the regiment’s lieutenant colonel. At this time he was in Virginia attending to personal business and superintending the recruiting service for his regiment (see Thomas Elliott to GW, 22 Mar. 1777), and on 1 April he was promoted to colonel of the 4th Virginia (see Lawson’s commission, that date, in DNA:PCC, item 59). Although Lawson resigned his Continental commission in order to attend to pressing “domestick Affairs” in late 1777 (see Lawson to GW, 17 Dec. 1777, in DLC:GW), he subsequently commanded a brigade of Virginia militia that saw action in Virginia and the Carolinas.

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