George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Patrick Henry, 5 September 1777

From Patrick Henry

Williamsburgh [Va.] Septr 5th 1777


Edmund Randolph Esqr. communicated to me that part of your last Letter to him, in which you are pleased to take Notice of your Ladys Reception at this place.1 I beg you to be assured that every Expression of Regard, falls short of that which I feel, & shall retain thro’ Life, for such distinguished Merit.

You are pleased also to observe that you have not recd any Answer from me to your two Favors of the 13th April & 17th May last. The latter has never been received. The former would have been answer’d, but really when I have considered the Extent Variety & Importance of the Things which occupy your Attention, I have been afraid of pestering you with Letters. The Scheme of embodying Volunteers was no more thought of after the Receipt of yours in which it appeared to be against your Wishes. In that, as in every military Measure I shall be solely guided by your Opinions.

Upon the Appearance of the British Fleet, about three thousand Militia were embody’d. They have Shewn great Alacrity. A third part of the Militia of P. William, Loudoun, Fairfax, Culpepper, Fauquier, Berkley, Dunmore & Frederick, is ordered to rendezvous at Frederick Town in Maryland & there to await your Orders.2 I have thought it of great Consequence to throw some Troops on the eastern Shore. But it ’tis rather disagreable to the Militia & for want of more Regulars two Companys only are gone there. Colo. N. Gist with seventeen Cherokees being here, chose also to go over & is gone.3

Altho a good peace is made with the Cherokees, yet our Southwestern Frontier is much harassed with Small partys of Indians. General Hand expects pretty warm Work about Pittsburgh.

Could any particular Assistance to you be render’d by Virginia at this Juncture, I should be made happy. Early Intelligence of the Enemy’s Motions may be of the highest Moment should they come down the Bay.

I beg Leave to assure you of that perfect Esteem & high Regard with which I have the Honour to be Sir yr most obedient & very humble Servant

P. Henry


1This letter has not been identified.

2Col. William Rumney of the Fairfax County militia wrote GW on 10 Sept. from Georgetown, Md.: “By orders from the Governor of Virginia I have marched at the head of two hundred and forty seven men, and expect the addition of fifty three, by the officers who are left to bring them on. We shall march according to order to Frederic Town, where we shall wait your Excellency’s orders for our further proceedings” (ALS, PHi: Gratz Collection). GW replied to Rumney on 14 Sept. from “Camp at Bucks Tavern 10 Miles from philadelphia”: “I . . . am happy to find, the Militia of Fairfax County have turned out with such readiness at this interesting period. Their conduct is truly laudable and has a claim to my thanks. As philadelphia is evidently the Object of General How’s expedition into Chesepeak Bay and he is now making a violent effort to possess himself of it, I think your Regiment should immediately proceed to Lancaster in pennsylvania from whence their aid can be more easily had, than if they remain at Frederick Town. The same line of conduct should be pursued by such Other Militia, as are now there, or may be assembling—which I wish you to communicate to their Commanding Officers. You will be pleased to advise me of your approach & that of any Other Troops to that post, that I may be enabled to give such further directions respecting your destination, as the situation of Affairs may require” (Df, in Robert Hanson Harrison’s writing, DLC:GW).

Lt. Col. James Barbour of the Culpeper County militia wrote GW on 16 Sept. from Frederick, Md.: “By Orders from Governour Henry of Virginia I arrived here last night with about 500 brave men of the Culpeper Militia we are badly Arm’d not more than 160 guns fit for Service & not more than 20 of the men have had the Small Pox the men are in high Spirits & nothing discourages them but the want of Arms & the Small Pox I am Orderd by our Governour to wait here for your Orders which youl please to send by the Bearer Capt. Richd Waugh which shall be Punctually Complyed with” (ALS, PHi: Gratz Collection).

3On 1 Sept. Henry had ordered the 1st Virginia State Regiment commanded by Col. George Gibson to “Join General Washington as early as possible” (DLC:GW). Gibson wrote GW on 10 Sept. from Alexandria, Va., enclosing a copy of his marching orders: “I flatter myself I shall be made happy by receiving from Your Excellency the orders respecting the rout I am to pursue as I am certain the Regimt I have the Honor to command will (by return of the Bearer) be in condition to carry into Execution any Orders they may be Honor’d with from Your Excelly” (ALS, DLC:GW). Robert Hanson Harrison replied to Gibson on 14 Sept. from “Camp at the Buck Tavern on Lancaster Road”: “His Excellency received to day your Letter of the 10th, and I have it in command to inform you, that you are to proceed immediately with your Regiment by the most expeditious route to Join his Army. Our Affairs at this time are in a situation truly interesting, and his Excellency has no doubt but your Regiment will give him the earliest aid in their power—At the same time he does not wish you to proceed with more expedition than will be agreable to the health of the Troops” (DLC:GW).

Index Entries