George Washington Papers

From George Washington to Colonel Nathaniel Gist, 22 February 1779

To Colonel Nathaniel Gist

Head Quarters [Middlebrook] 22d Feby 1779


I have been informed that you have, upon Colo. Russells leaving Camp, taken the command of Genl Scotts Brigade. This gives umbrage to the Officers properly belonging to the Brigade who do not conceive that you are attached to that or any other, as you have no Regiment in the feild, and have never in the arrangement of the Army been considered as belonging to one Brigade more than another: But have taken your tour of duty in the line at large. This is agreeable to my opinion also, and I would therefore advise you to give up the command to Lieut. Colo. Hawes or whoever may be the senior Officer and take command in the line only, untill something definitive is determined upon respecting your continuance in the service.1

Df, in Tench Tilghman’s writing, DLC:GW; Varick transcript, DLC:GW.

1When Brig. Gen. Charles Scott left the army in mid-November 1778 to go home to Virginia to recover his health, he and GW agreed that Col. Nathaniel Gist was not equal to assuming temporary command of Scott’s light infantry brigade, probably because of the demands of the extensive intelligence operations that Scott had been supervising (see Scott to GW, 6 Nov. 1778, and GW to Scott, 7 Nov. 1778). GW named Col. David Henley as brigade commandant, and Col. William Russell succeeded Henley in that position by 20 Dec. 1778 (see Henley to GW, 16 Nov. 1778 [first letter]; GW to Henley, 18 Nov. 1778; and Russell to GW, 20 and 21 Dec. 1778). Russell apparently had taken a leave of absence in recent days (see General Orders, 11 and 14 Feb.). He subsequently returned to duty as colonel of the 5th Virginia Regiment and was captured at the siege of Charleston, S.C., in May 1780.

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