George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Major General Riedesel, 16 February 1779

From Major General Riedesel

Colle near CharlotteVille [Va.]1 February 16th 1779

Sir,

The great obligations which I am under to Captain Browne, who will have the Honor of delivering this Letter to your Excellency, occasion my taking the Liberty of recommending him to your Excellency. This Officer was appointed by Lord Sterling, to accompany me and my family to the place of our Destination in Virginia.2 The great care he took in procuring us the best Accommodations, and Conveniencies upon the Road, & his attention and endeavours to render the long Journey as commodious as possible to Madame de Riedesel and to me, call upon my highest Acknowledgements, and although the Recommendation of an Officer, by one who is engaged in the opposite side of the Great Cause in Dispute, ought to have no Weight, yet the wellknown and universal sentiments of generosity and Humanity which Your Excellency has testified upon so many Occasions, encourage me to recommend Captain Browne to your Excellency’s Notice and Protection.

Captain Browne can acq[u]aint your Excellency with the various difficulties we met with, the Scarcity of every thing upon the Road, the enormous Prices of every Article, and with the ungenerous and inhumane Sentiments of People at different Places.3

Captain Browne can likewise inform your Excellency of the melancholy Situation of the Troops of the Convention at present, but which was much worse, on their first coming here. On their Arrival, they found a few Buildings: (which had received the appellation of Barracks), but which, in fact, consisted of nothing but some logs laid upon one another, without any Covering, and the Snow three feet deep on the Ground. The Troops have nobly supported their distress, & are now employed in building their own Barracks, which would long ago have been finished if there had not been such a Scarcity of Utensils.4 I must confess that according to the Description which we had, I expected to have found a more plentiful Country, & better able to maintain such a Number of Troops. But I am far from troubling your Excellency with complaints, as I am fully sensible that we are not in this Situation by your Excellency’s Orders.

Your Excellency will allow me to assure you of the Respectful Sentiments with which I have the Honor to be Your Excellency’s most obedient and most humble Servant

Riedesel Maj: Gen:

LS, DLC:GW. Robert Hanson Harrison docketed the manuscript: “Genl Riedsel 16 February 1779 no Ansr necesy.”

1Major General Riedesel and his family lived from February to late summer 1779 at Colle, Philip Mazzei’s farm near Thomas Jefferson’s home, Monticello. Baroness von Riedesel, who arrived at Colle with her children in mid-February, says in her journal: “The house where we lived and the whole property belonged to an Italian, who let us live there during his absence, since he intended to be absent for a while. We looked forward longingly to his and his wife’s and daughter’s departure because the house was small, and, moreover, the scarcity of provisions annoyed them” (Brown, Baroness von Riedesel description begins Marvin L. Brown, Jr., ed. Baroness von Riedesel and the American Revolution: Journal and Correspondence of a Tour of Duty, 1776–1783. Chapel Hill, N.C., 1965. description ends , 80–81). The Riedesels built a bigger house after the Mazzei’s departure, but they left Colle before they could occupy it. For Mazzei’s trip to Europe, see his letter to GW of 27 Jan., and n.2 to that document. Referring to the Riedesels and/or British major Paulus Æmilius Irving, who succeeded the Reidesels at Colle, Jefferson wrote Mazzei on 4 April 1780: “Your vines and trees at Colle have suffered extremely from their horses, cattle and carelessness” (Jefferson Papers description begins Julian P. Boyd et al., eds. The Papers of Thomas Jefferson. 40 vols. to date. Princeton, N.J., 1950—. description ends , 3:341–43).

2For Major General Stirling’s appointment of Capt. Robert Windsor Brown of the 1st Virginia State Regiment to this duty, see Stirling to GW, 25 Dec. 1778.

3For Baroness von Riedesel’s journal account of the difficulties of her and her children’s journey from Massachusetts to Virginia, see Brown, Baroness von Riedesel description begins Marvin L. Brown, Jr., ed. Baroness von Riedesel and the American Revolution: Journal and Correspondence of a Tour of Duty, 1776–1783. Chapel Hill, N.C., 1965. description ends , 74–80.

4Most of the Convention Army troops were at the Albemarle Barracks located near Ivy Creek northwest of Charlottesville and several miles from Colle, which stood a short distance southeast of the town. Baroness von Riedesel says in her journal: “The troops were … two hours away. One had to go through a beautiful forest to get to them. At first they were very uncomfortable there. They had log cabins, but these were not plastered, and they lacked doors and windows, so they suffered terribly from the cold. They worked very hard to build better houses for themselves, and in a short time the place became a pretty town. Each of the barracks had a garden in the back and a nice little fenced-in yard for poultry” (Brown, Baroness von Riedesel description begins Marvin L. Brown, Jr., ed. Baroness von Riedesel and the American Revolution: Journal and Correspondence of a Tour of Duty, 1776–1783. Chapel Hill, N.C., 1965. description ends , 81–82).

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