George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Colonel David Mason, 4 April 1777

From Colonel David Mason

Williamsburg [Va.] 4th April. 1777


Your Orders of the 12th of March last came to hand this Day The contents of which I Duly Notice and shall to the Utmost of my Power comply with; The State of my Regiment I cannot give your Excellency an exact account of at this time, but will inform you of the Number of Men that marched from this Station to day and Tomorrow, which will be about two Hundred and eighty, and I hope to have at Fredericksburg at least one hundred and fifty having ordered a Company from the South side of James River to rendezvouse their as well as the Troops of the Northern Neck thats allotted to my Regiment: Having no Majr with me, as Majr Richardson who was allotted to me is gone on to Head Quarters,1 I was at a loss how to conduct myself on the Occasion & applied to Brigadier General Lewis as well as to the Govenour and Council, The Govenour & Council came to a Resolution on the Occasion which I take the liberty of Inclosing to your Excellency.2 Subsequent to the Resolution finding that Genl Lewis disapproved of Lt Colo. Innis’s going with me, and wishing to do my Duty if Possible by Strictly complying with your Commands, I have determined that my Lieutent Colo. shall stay behind, Colo. Innis knowing how exceedingly he will be Embarrised in the recruiting business as being an intire Stranger to the Southern People & having a very great desire to March with the Troops, considering himself better acquainted in the Military department than myself is exceedingly Uneasy;3 In that case Your Excellency will be pleased to Act as you think best for the service, being determined to do my Duty in every respect thats in my Power—I have only to add that in a few Days I hope to be able to give you a more proper Account of the State of my Regiment, and have to Assure Your Excellency that I am with the greatest regard your Excellency’s Most obedient Hbble Servant

David Mason

LS, PHi: Gratz Collection; Sprague transcript, DLC:GW. The addressed and docketed cover of the LS is in DLC:GW. It includes the notation: “By the Post.”

GW’s aide-de-camp George Johnston replied to this letter on 18 April: “Before this reaches you he [GW] hopes, nay is almost confident, that you will have marched yr complete Batn toward Us. Shd this not be the Case, he concurs with the Advice you have received from the govr & Council, by wch you will regulate yrself—The sooner you can furnish a Ret[ur]n of the State of yr Batn the better” (DLC:GW).

David Mason (1733–1792) of Sussex County, Va., served as a member of the House of Burgesses from 1758 to 1776, the Virginia conventions from 1774 to 1776, and the state senate from October to December 1776. He was colonel of the Southampton District Battalion of minutemen from March to November 1776, when he became colonel of the 15th Virginia Regiment. Mason resigned his commission on 31 July 1778 (see Mason to GW, that date, DNA: RG 93, manuscript file no. 31304). He was a member of the Virginia state senate from 1779 to 1781 and the house of delegates in 1782.

1Holt Richeson (Richardson; 1736–1800) of King William County, Va., served as a captain in the 7th Virginia Regiment from February 1776 to the following November when he was named major of Colonel Mason’s 15th Virginia Regiment. Richeson became lieutenant colonel of the 7th Virginia Regiment on 9 Oct. 1777, and he transferred as lieutenant colonel to the 5th Virginia Regiment in September 1778. Feeling financially pinched by the effect of inflation on his Continental pay, Richeson wrote GW on 14 April 1779 asking permission to resign from the army (DNA: RG 93, manuscript file no. 31277), and GW granted his request a few weeks later (see Richard Kidder Meade to Richeson, 18 May 1779, DLC:GW). Richeson subsequently served as a colonel in the Virginia militia, and he represented King William County in the house of delegates from 1779 to 1782 and in the Virginia Ratifying Convention in 1788.

2The enclosed copy of this resolution, which the Virginia council passed on this date, reads: “Colonel David Mason having communicated to the Board a Letter from his Excellency General Washington commanding him to march with his Regiment and to leave his Lieutenant Colo. to manage the recruiting service here and the same Colonel Mason having represented that as Major Richardson appointed to his Regiment is now to the Northward and it is uncertain whether he will accept his appointment, and that the presence of the said Lieutenant Colonel is absolutely necessary on the March which begins to Day, more especially as the Inoculation of the said Regiment is to be speedily begun. This Board on consideration of the matter recommend to Colonel Mason, that as he cannot strictly comply with General Washingtons orders, by marching with the Major of his Regiment, and leaving his Lieutenant Colonel here for the Reasons aforementioned, to direct Colonel Innes who is Lieutenant Colonel to proceed on to the Northward for the present until the General may please to give further Orders” (DLC:GW).

3James Innes (1754–1798), a native of King and Queen County, Va., who had become head usher of the grammar school at the College of William and Mary after graduating from the college in 1773, was chosen captain of the Williamsburg volunteer company by April 1775, and in February 1776 the Virginia committee of safety appointed him captain of an artillery company. Displaced from the latter position two months later by a Continental appointee, Innes was named acting major of the 9th Virginia Regiment on 19 April 1776 by Gen. Charles Lee, and Congress confirmed Innes’s commission as major on 13 Aug. 1776 (see Lee to John Hancock, 19 April 1776, in Lee Papers description begins [Charles Lee]. The Lee Papers. 4 vols. New York, 1872-75. In Collections of the New-York Historical Society, vols. 4–7. description ends , 1:432–35, and JCC description begins Worthington Chauncey Ford et al., eds. Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774-1789. 34 vols. Washington, D.C., 1904–37. description ends , 5:649). Innes was commissioned lieutenant colonel of Colonel Mason’s 15th Virginia Regiment on 13 Nov. 1776. He joined GW’s army later this spring and distinguished himself at the Battle of Brandywine on 11 Sept. 1777. In early January 1778 Innes went to Virginia on recruiting business. He did not return to his regiment. Complaining of “the Scanty & parsimonious allowances of the american army,” Innes tendered his resignation in his letter to GW of 12 June 1778 (DNA: RG 93, manuscript file no. 31554), and GW accepted it in his reply to Innes of 3 July (DLC:GW). Innes later established himself as an attorney in Williamsburg. He served on the Virginia navy board from 1778 to 1779, on the Virginia board of war from 1779 to 1780, and in the house of delegates from 1779 to 1782, and during the British invasion of Virginia in 1781, he commanded one of the detachments of militia called out to defend the state. Although Congress on 9 July 1782 elected Innes judge advocate general of the Continental army, he did not accept that office (see JCC description begins Worthington Chauncey Ford et al., eds. Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774-1789. 34 vols. Washington, D.C., 1904–37. description ends , 22:378, 23:572). After the war Innes served in the house of delegates from 1785 to 1786 and the Virginia Ratifying Convention in 1788. From 1786 to 1796 he was attorney general of Virginia.

Index Entries