George Washington Papers

From George Washington to Colonels Alexander Spotswood, Alexander McClanachan, and Abraham Bowman and Lieutenant Colonel Christian Febiger, 30 April 1777

To Colonels Alexander Spotswood, Alexander McClanachan, and Abraham Bowman and Lieutenant Colonel Christian Febiger

Headquarters Morris Town. 30th April 1777.


I want to form a Company for my Guard—In doing this I wish to be extremely cautious; because it is more than probable that in the Course of the Campaign, my Baggage, Papers, & other Matters of great public Import may be committed to the sole Care of these Men—This being premised, in order to impress you with proper Attention in the Choice, I have to request That you will immediately furnish me with Four Men of your Regimt: And, as it is my further wish that this Compy shd look well & be nearly of a size, I desire that none of the Men may exceed in stature 5 feet 10 inches, nor fall short of 5 feet 9 inches—sober, young, active & well made.

When I recommend Care in yr Choice, I wd be understood to mean Men of good Character in the Regimt that possess the pride of appearing clean & soldierlike—I am satisfied there can be no absolute security for the Fidelity of this Class of People, but yet I think it most likely to be found in those who have Family-Connections in the Country. You will therefore send me none but Natives, & Men of some property, if You have them—I must insist that in making this Choice You give no Intimation of my preferance of Natives, as I do not want to create any invidious Distinction between them & the Foreigners. I am &c.


Df, in George Johnston’s writing, DLC:GW; Varick transcript, DLC:GW. Spotswood, McClanahan, and Bowman were colonels respectively of the 2d, 7th, and 8th Virginia Regiments. Febiger was lieutenant colonel of Col. Daniel Morgan’s 11th Virginia Regiment. Although the Varick transcript indicates that this letter was addressed to Morgan rather than Febiger, the docket on the draft says that it was addressed to Febiger. GW wrote a nearly identical letter to Col. Charles Lewis of the 14th Virginia Regiment on 4 June 1777 (LS, in William Grayson’s writing, MHi: Jefferson Papers). GW also apparently wrote a similar, if not identical, letter to Col. Edward Stevens of the 10th Virginia Regiment on 2 May, which has not been found (see Stevens to GW, 15 May)

The discharge of the men composing GW’s guard in February 1777 made it necessary to form a new guard this spring. The new guard included cavalry as well as infantry (see Godfrey, Commander in Chief’s Guard description begins Carlos E. Godfrey. The Commander-in-Chief’s Guard: Revolutionary War. Washington, D.C., 1904. description ends , 38–43).

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