George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Colonel George Gibson, 23 January 1779

From Colonel George Gibson

Philada 23rd January 1779

May it please Your Excellency

The Assembly of Virginia in their late Act passed for the reinlistment of their Troops have not taken any notice of the Two state regiments anex’d to the Continental Army.1 from what cause I Know not unless it may be that they conceived the regimts to have been Continental Troops from the time they were taken into the Service, Indeed His Excelly the Governor & many Gentn of the House of Assembly told me we were considerd as continental troops from the time we were taken into Continentl pay—The terms for which the troops were enlisted are expiring dayly, very few perhaps not more than thirty were enlisted for the War, the men are willing nay anxious to enlist on the same terms as the troops from Our state which induces me to pray Your Excellency’s Orders in the premises. I have the Honor to be Your Excellency’s Most Obedt Huml. Servt

Geo: Gibson

ALS, DNA:PCC, item 78. GW passed this letter on to Congress, which on 29 Jan. read it and ordered “That it be referred to the committee appointed to confer with the Commander in Chief, and that they take such order thereon as they judge proper” (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 , 13:124).

At a meeting on 31 Jan. between GW and four of the five members of the committee of conference—James Duane, Henry Laurens, Jesse Root, and Meriwether Smith—the committee unanimously agreed that GW should give orders for re-enlisting the men belonging to Gibson’s regiment “for the War, allowing them the Continental bounty and that if the State of Virginia shall incline to take the Regiment when so reinlisted, into its own immediate Service, it shall be at Liberty to do so, and in that case, the Bounty money to be advanced out of the Continental Treasury together with the expence of recruiting, shall be returned.

“It is further agreed, that if Colo. [Gregory] Smith & his [2d] Regiment raised for the Service of the State of Virginia shall make a similar application to the Commander in Chief of the Army of these United States, the same measures in all respects be pursued with regard to that Regiment” (copy, attested by Peter Scull, DLC:GW; copy, attested by Scull, ViHi: Continental Congress Collection).

On 8 Feb., GW wrote from his Middlebrook headquarters to Colonel Gibson and to Lt. Col. Charles Dabney of the 2d Virginia State Regiment: “The General Orders of yesterday on the subject of reinlisting Soldiers who have not engaged to serve during the war, are to be regarded as extending to the Virginia State Regiments—You will therefore conduct yourself accordingly, in reinlisting such men under your command as come under that description” (Df, in John Laurens’s writing, DLC:GW; Varick transcript, DLC:GW).

1For the Virginia general assembly’s act of 19 Dec. 1778 regarding the recruiting of the state’s Continental regiments, see James Wood to GW, 17 Jan., and n.1. Col. George Gibson’s 1st Virginia State Regiment had joined the Continental army in December 1777, and Col. Gregory Smith’s 2d Virginia State Regiment apparently had arrived in May or June 1778. Assigned to Brig. Gen. Peter Muhlenberg’s brigade, both of these regiments remained with the Continental army until late 1779.

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