George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Colonel William Russell, Sr., 24 February 1778

From Colonel William Russell, Sr.

Feby 24th 1778

May it please your Excellency,

I am happy to be inform’d by Major Campbell, that your Excellency intends shortly to have the divided and disagreeable situation of the 13th Virginia Regiment laid before Congress; that thereby that part of the Regiment here, and those over the Mountain at Fort Pitt may be join’d together, and act accordingly at such place as your Excellency and Congress may think propper to direct.1

That the Soldiers of that Regiment had assurances by the Officers who enlisted them to be continued on that side of the Mountain, is a fact, perhaps unknown to your Excellency, but true it is such engagements drew in many married Men to enlist, who have since been forced down here, leaving their helpless Families in a most miserable condition. Their Wives and Children were soon after forced to fly into Forts, to escape the danger of a savage Enemy, at a time when provisions were scarce in that part of the Country and must have suffered much since. I mention this real fact, the better to enable your Excellency to form a judgment for the disposal of the Regiment. I am anxious to have the Regiment disciplin’d as early as possible this spring, therefore hope the application may not be premature. I request the favour of your Excellency to indulge Major Campbell with leave of absence, till he can ⟨w⟩ait on Congress to have the business adjusted, unless your Excellency shou’d chuse to determine the matter your self. I am with due respect, May it please your Excellency your Most Obed. Servt

W. Russell Colo. Commr
Genl Muhlenbergs Brigade


1GW wrote Henry Laurens on 27 Feb. suggesting the reunification of the parts of the 13th Virginia Regiment at Fort Pitt and Valley Forge. He was concerned, however, that doing so might set an uncomfortable precedent, and he complained to Horatio Gates on 9 Mar. that sending the 13th Virginia companies at Valley Forge to Fort Pitt would result in similar demands being made by members of the 12th Virginia and the 8th and 12th Pennsylvania regiments. “And to spare them all at this time,” GW wrote Gates, “is impossible.” On 6 Mar., Congress referred GW’s letter of 27 Feb. to the Board of War, and it did the same on 13 Mar. with another letter from Russell on the same subject, but it postponed consideration of the Board of War’s report on the matter (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 , 10:225–26, 247, 253, 260; Russell’s undated letter to Congress is in DNA:PCC, item 78). On 25 Mar., GW wrote Gates that “Our number of effectives is so reduced by innoculation that it is impossible to spare the few Men of the 13th Virginia Regiment just at this time.” Instead, GW sent Russell to Fort Pitt to “collect and take the command of by far the greatest part of the Regiment who are now stragling about that Country” (see also GW to Russell, 30 March). It was not until May that GW reluctantly ordered the remainder of the 13th Virginia Regiment at Valley Forge to march to Fort Pitt (see GW to Pickering, 23 May).

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