George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Major General William Phillips, 1 February 1779

From Major General William Phillips

Lancaster [Pa.] February 1st 1779


I last night received by express your Excellencys letters of the 26th and 30th of January, as, also, the letter from the President of the American Congress and the Resolve of that Body on my subject.1

I have been delayed at this place unavoidably, but the Susquehana is now open and I shall pursue my journey to Virginia.

You are pleased to mention, Sir, in your letter of the 26th of January that

“respecting a conference intended to

serve as a basis for a final negociation

of the exchange of the Convention Troops,

You (that is I) have withdrawn.”

I must take a liberty of observing on this that you surely, Sir, have misconceived me—I made the proposition, which was refused by you in a letter I had the honour to receive from you dated the 25th December 1778 from Philadelphia and Lord Stirling in a letter to me from Middle Brook of January the 17th an extract of which I enclose confirms the refusal.2

I have been uniform in my wishes and attempt to Exchange the Troops of Convention or to procure their release by ransom and I am still desirous of such an event.

I take a liberty of enclosing some letters for New York which I will hope may be sent in with the papers they contain.3 I am, Sir, with personal respect Your most obedeint most humble Servant

W. Phillips


1Phillips is referring to John Jay’s letter to him of 23 Jan. and Congress’s resolution of that date directing him to proceed immediately to Charlottesville, Va., both of which documents had been enclosed in GW’s letter to Phillips of 26 January.

2The enclosed extract from Stirling’s letter to Phillips of 17 Jan. reads: “I had the Honor of receiving your Letter of the 6th by your deputy Adjutant General [Thomas Bibby]. The Uncertainty of General Washingtons return to this place, and the route by which he would come from Philadelphia, induced me to perswade Mr Bibby to remain here while I should communicate his business by Letter to General Washington, I late last night received his Excellencys answer. I find he is still of oppinion that no good can possibly result from any negotiation on the subject of an Exchange of the Convention Troops, the proposal of exchanging whole Corps of Officers and men together was a point urged by the Brittish Comissioners at Amboy and was objected by ours as inadmissable and inconsistant with the powers vested in them. These sentiments have since been confirmed by Congress” (DLC:GW). Stirling is referring to his letter to GW of 9 Jan., which has not been found, and GW’s reply to him of 14 January. Phillips’s letter to Stirling of 6 Jan. has not been identified.

3These letters have not been identified.

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