George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Colonel David Mason, 1 July 1778

From Colonel David Mason

Wsburg [Va.] July 1st 1778


I this Day by favr of Mr John Sewall Junr of Gloster wrote You1 & did not at that time Expect so favrable & Speedy an Opportunity of Sending on a Small Detachment of Men as now offers, Captain Tayler of [ ] Ship Sets Sail this Evening for the Head of Elk,2 2 on Board the sd vessel Lt Thellaball of the 15th regt goes with Twenty six Men, Numbers of them the Blackest of Rascalls, Particularly John Bates—Wm Lyon & Alexander McGrigger all Deserters, Bates I woud have Tryed Here as Your Excellency had Hond me with a Commn for appointing of Genl Courts Martial3—but we coud not Collect Office[r]s Sufficient for his Tryal, I had the witness’s which are John Balmer & ⟨Joshua⟩ Butler to Prove his Desertion & Seduction of them & others and Carrying with them Several Stand of arms & Accoutrements, Lyon is a deserter and has been with the Enemy & in service agt us, by his own Confessison, but whether it can be Proved if he denys it, I am not able to Acqt you, He is a Fellow of the Basest of Characters has Murdered a Man & almost another, but unfortunately for us, we cannot Prove it by any white Person, McGrigger Deserted from the Northwd & I think from Your Camp, Lieutt Thillaball has been Detained Here for Sometime Past in the Lower Parts of this State Near Norfolk for the Purpose of Apprehending of a Number of Deserters in that Quarter but without any Great Success, He has done Everything in his Power & is a very Active vigilant Officer, his Expences has Greatly Exceeded his Wages & I shoud hope woud in Some Measure be Reimbursed as he is of Slender Circumstances4 I am to Acqt Your Excellency that I shall continue Here a Few Days, to Collect all the Men I Possably can as I Expect several Brot to me this week & shall b[y]5 some Speedy & Safe Conveyance Forwd them to Head Quarters—And as You Have been plased to Signifie Your Pleasure of my Resigning on Account of the Situation of my Family,6 I do with the Great Candour Assure your Excellency it is with the Utmost Reluctance that I am Constrained to do it & so Accept of your Promise, and shall take the Liberty so soon as I can Adjust a few Matters Here to Inclose your Excellency my Commission & Hope it will be received. I Most Sincerely congratulate You on the Repossession of the City of Philadelphia & the Glorious Prospect we have of Success in our Present Contest, with wishing Every Happiness that Life can Afford & a Safe Return to your Friends & Country I Remain Sir Your Excellencys Mo[s]t Obedt Humble Servt

David Mason Colo. 15th regt


1Mason’s previous letter of this date has not been found. John Seawell, Jr. (1760–1806), was later a justice of the peace in Gloucester County, Virginia.

2Mason may have been referring to Capt. Richard Taylor (1749–1825) of the Virginia navy, who at this time commanded the Tartar. Taylor, of Caroline County, was commissioned in March 1776 and commanded the cruiser Liberty and the schooner Hornet before the Tartar. He served to the close of the war. In 1794 Taylor moved to Kentucky.

3GW had sent the commission with his letter to Mason of 16 April.

4Robert Thelaball of Norfolk County was commissioned an ensign of the 15th Virginia Regiment in February 1777 and promoted to 2d lieutenant in March of that year. In September 1778, Thelaball was ordered to rejoin his regiment, and he apparently resigned about that time.

5Mason wrote “be.”

6Mason was alluding to GW’s letter to him of 19 May.

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