George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Richard Peters, 6 May 1778

From Richard Peters

War Office [York, Pa.] May 6th 1778


A Capt. William Scull has been employed by your Excellency to survey the Country from Derby to Lancaster which he informs he has nearly completed.1 Enclosed you have a Copy of a Resolution of Congress relative to the Survey of the Susquahanna & several Creeks running into it.2 The Board have employed Messrs Villefranche, Capitaine & Bedeaulx three French Officers recommended to them for the Purpose,3 to survey & make Drafts of the Susquahanna from the Head of the Tide Water to Harris’s Ferry.4 Their Work when ⟨col⟩lected shall be transmitted to your Excellency. As Captain Scull is an ingenious Surveyor & has every thing prepared for the Bussiness the Board have thought it best to employ him to survey the Creeks submitting their Order nevertheless to your Consideration that if it interferes with your Views as to Mr Scull you may contradict it of which however you will inform the Board by Return of our Messenger that some other Person may be employed. Should you think proper that Mr Scull should proceed be pleased to direct an Engineer & military Draftsman to attend him in Order to form a proper Judgment of the Positions Heights Ravines Fords & Passes &c. on the Creeks & in their Vicinity. Some one of the French Gentlemen at Camp it is presumed may be sent & as your Excellency is a better Judge than we are of what Instructions he should be furnished with we beg you will be pleased to give what Orders you Deem expedient. We enclose a Copy of our Instructions to Mr Scull.5

We transmitt herewith a German Translation of a Resolution of Congress designed to induce the foreign Officers & Soldiers in the Service of the British King to leave their present ignominious Employment & become resident as industrious & peaceable Subjects in a Country they cannot conquer.6 Many of the German Prisoners among us we know would gladly become Citizens of these States; but at present it may not perhaps be expedient to indulge them. Were they exchanged Numbers would if possible return to take Advantage of these or even lesser Inducement to settle among us. Your Excellency will no Doubt take the earliest & best Means of circulating the Papers among the German Troops. I have the Honor to be with great Respect your very obedt Servt

Richard Peters
By Order


2See the congressional resolution of 13 April in 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 , 10:342.

3Michel Capitaine Du Chesnoy (1746–1804) sailed to America with Lafayette in March 1777. In April 1778 Congress commissioned him a captain of engineers to date from December 1776, and in November he was awarded the brevet rank of major. Capitaine Du Chesnoy served as Lafayette’s aide until the latter’s return to France late in 1781. Charles-Frédéric Bedaulx (1752–c.1779), a Swiss mercenary who had previously seen service as a captain in the Dutch army, attempted to reach America in the summer of 1776 but was captured and interned in England. He escaped to France, and in March 1777 he sailed from Bordeaux with Lafayette, arriving in Philadelphia that July. Congress offered him a brevet commission as captain in September 1777, and Henry Laurens then offered him the rank of major, but Bedaulx declined, holding out for a commission as lieutenant colonel, which he was not to receive until being appointed a lieutenant colonel of Pulaski’s Legion in December 1778. Left temporarily in command of the legion after Pulaski’s death in October 1779 at Savannah, Ga., Bedaulx asked leave to quit the service due to ill health but died in Charleston before he could return to Europe.

4Harris’s Ferry was located at what is now Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.

5The enclosed copy of a letter from Peters to Capt. William Scull, dated 6 May at the War Office in York, Pa., reads: “I received your letter of the 4th and inclose you a resolve of congress, which you will please to execute as far as relates to the Conestogo Pequea and Octoraro creeks. General Washington is informed of this direction of the board, and desired to inform whether your complying wth it is contradictory to, or inconsistent with his views, as the board would not wish to interfere with any designs of his. The heights, ravines, or hollow ways, fords, and all passes, and the general or particular width or depths of the creeks at remarkable places to be particularly noted. The general is desired to order an engineer to attend you to draft and judge of the particular places where positions are likely to be taken either by our or the army of the enemy. The purposes intended are entirely of a military nature, therefore the main body of the waters or their capital branches and the face of the country round them need only be attended to” (DLC:GW). A note at the bottom of the letter indicates that it was to be delivered to Scull “by Mr Ross, tavern keeper Lancaster.”

6See Henry Laurens’s second letter to GW of 3 May and note 3 of that document.

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