George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Captain Edward Vail, 22 November 1777

From Captain Edward Vail

[22 November 1777]

To his Excellency Genl Washington Commander in Chief, of the American Continental Army.

The Petetion of Capt. Edwd Vail Humbly Sheweth that your Peti[t]oner finds himself Aggriev’d by a Sentance of a Brigade Court Martial whereof Col. Hogun was President,1 & the whole of the Sd Court Consisted one member Excepted, of Officers below my rank, therefore beg the favour of being Try’d by the Line or officers of Equal rank; and make no doubt but then will have it in my Power to Convince his Excellency that I have been wrongfully Prosecuted & maliciously us’d. your Obd. H. Sert

Edwd Vail

N.B. Refer the matter to Cols. Martin Hogun Thaxton & many other field officers who knows of the within mentd.

Edwd Vail

ADS, DLC:GW. Although this document is undated, both John Laurens’s docket, which reads in part “Novr 22 1777,” and an unrelated docket also in Laurens’s writing pertaining to Allen McLane’s letter to GW of 22 Nov. indicate that Vail wrote this document around that date.

Edward Vail, who became a lieutenant in the 2d North Carolina Regiment in September 1775 and was promoted to captain in August 1776, apparently had been convicted recently of charges relating to his conduct at the Battle of Germantown on 4 Oct. 1777. When Vail was retried at a general court-martial on 2 Dec., he was convicted of cowardice and sentenced to be dismissed from the service (see General Orders, 22 Dec.). Vail’s father, Edward Vail (1717–1777) of Chowan County, N.C., a veteran of the French and Indian War, had been a state legislator, militia general, and member of the North Carolina committee of correspondence.

1James Hogun (d. 1781), who represented Halifax County in North Carolina provincial congresses in 1774 and 1776, was appointed colonel of the 7th North Carolina Regiment in November 1776. In January 1779 Hogun was selected by Congress as one of two new brigadier generals for the North Carolina line. He served as commandant for Philadelphia from March to November 1779, when his brigade was ordered to the relief of Charleston. Captured when the city fell to the British on 12 May 1780, Hogun died the following year at Haddrel’s Point, S.C., while still a prisoner of war.

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