George Washington Papers

To George Washington from the Pennsylvania Council of Safety, 29 January 1777

From the Pennsylvania Council of Safety

In Council of Safety Philadelphia
January 29th 1777


This will be delivered to your Excellency by Colonel Emas McCoy of the 8th Pennsylvania Regiment. The Rank of Officers in this Regiment is not yet settled, and from their present temper we apprehend much discontent will arise from any determination by this Council, and thereby the public Service be greatly injured, which possibly may not be the case if settled at Head-Quarters and by your Excellency’s Authority. The Council have therefore delivered their Commissions, and request your Excellency to give directions respecting their rank. The appointment of those Officers were not by this Board, otherwise such disputes should not at this time subsist.1 I have the Honor to be with the greatest respect Your Excellencys Obedient Servant

Tho. Wharton jun. Prest

LS, DLC:GW; Df, PHarH: Records of Pennsylvania’s Revolutionary Governments, 1775–90.

1The 8th Pennsylvania Regiment, authorized for the defense of the western frontier on 15 July 1776 (see Pa. Archives description begins Samuel Hazard et al., eds. Pennsylvania Archives. 9 ser., 138 vols. Philadelphia and Harrisburg, 1852–1949. description ends , ser. 5, 3:305), was raised in Westmoreland and Bedford counties and stationed at Kittanning, Pa., after its muster. It was ordered to reinforce the Continental army under GW’s command in early December 1776, and on 6 Jan. 1777 the ill-supplied troops left Kittanning for New Jersey on what proved to be a difficult and deathly winter march through the snow-covered mountains of Pennsylvania. By the time the regiment arrived at Quibbletown (now New Market), N.J., in February, its strength had been considerably weakened by death, illness, and desertion. Aeneas Mackay (McKoy, McCoy; 1721–1777), who had served as a sergeant in Col. Henry Bouquet’s 1st Royal American Regiment during the French and Indian War and subsequently had become an Indian trader in western Pennsylvania, was appointed colonel of the 8th Pennsylvania on 20 July 1776 (see Mackay’s Discharge, 24 April 1760, in Bouquet Papers description begins Donald H. Kent et al., eds. The Papers of Henry Bouquet. 6 vols. Harrisburg, Pa., 1951-94. description ends , 4:536–37). Mackay died on 15 Feb. of “a putrid fever, at Trenton,” shortly after the completion of his regiment’s arduous march from western Pennsylvania and was buried in the First Presbyterian burying ground in Philadelphia (Pennsylvania Evening Post, 18 Feb. 1777). The 8th Pennsylvania’s lieutenant colonel, George Wilson, a native of Augusta County, Va., and a veteran of the French and Indian War, also died of illness following the march, and Daniel Brodhead took command of the regiment on 1 March. Richard Butler (1743–1791), major of the 8th Pennsylvania, was promoted to lieutenant colonel on 12 March.

Index Entries