From Colonel Charles Mynn Thruston
Whippeny [N.J.] 14 March 1777
I feel very sensibly for the honour done me in your kind and polite letter of this day: your congratulation affects me; I am obliged and thank you.1 Give me leave to return it in behalf of yourself and the publick on the speedy recovery from your late indisposition.
Your offer of a Regiment does me great honour, and the genteel manner it is made leaves me without a pretence to refuse it; except such as may arise from a consciousness of my own inability, and the great difficulty there will be, cull’d as the state of Virginia now is, of getting it genteelly officered. Capt. Lewis I think will make an excellent Officer and am confident with the assistance of his friends in Frederick, about Alexandria, and Fredericksburgh will readily make up his company. I could wish too that Thornton Washington might be an Officer in the Regiment unless your Excellency has destined him to some other station. If Colo. McDonald will serve, no better Lieut. Colonel could be found2—I cannot at present recollect above two or three such Captains as I should be willing to appoint; I shall therefore be glad of the advice of yr Excellency and my friend Colo. Johnston on this head; as I suppose it is high time the business were set a going. I shall add no more as I can neither write nor think, but that I am with utmost Regard and esteem your Excellencys obliged and most humble Servt
C. M. Thruston
1. GW’s letter to Thruston has not been found.
2. Angus McDonald (1727–1778) was a merchant from near Winchester, Va., who had fled from the Highlands of Scotland after taking part in the uprising against King George II in 1745. McDonald was commissioned a major in the Virginia militia in 1765 and promoted to colonel by 1774, when he led an attack on the upper Shawnee towns in the Ohio country. In a letter to McDonald of 16 Mar. 1777, GW offered him the lieutenant colonelcy of Thruston’s regiment, adding that “I sincerely wish that You would accept this Office; And let me entreat You not to permit the love you bare to the Cause to be smothered by any neglect of attention to your Military Character—The Contest is of too serious & important a Nature to be managed by Men totally unacquainted with the duties of the Field—Gentlemen, who have from their Youth discovered an Attachment to this way of Life, are in my Opinion Called upon in so forcible a manner, that they ought not withold themselves. You will please to communicate your Resolution to me by the very first Opportunity” (LS [photocopy], DLC:GW, ser. 9). McDonald received GW’s letter on 19 April and the following day replied to GW, declining the appointment: “I am truly Sensible of the Honor Conferred on me by your appointment & shall to my Latest hour Bear it in gratefull Rememberance but am so Circumstanced that I Cannot without Exposing my Family to a prospect of Ruin accept of it ... From the first Commencement of the troubles I had an Expectation that I might be Called upon to Serve in the field and Regulated my Domestick affairs in Such a way as to obey the Summons when called upon untill the Last military promotions in this State when finding to my great disappointment the Posts filled up, I then Concluded that I Should not be wanted and have Since undertaken and Launched out into other Business that I Cannot Leave” (DLC:GW). An earlier disagreement between McDonald and Thruston over church-related matters in Virginia might have contributed to McDonald’s unwillingness to serve as Thruston’s lieutenant colonel.