George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Captain Donald Campbell, 12 March 1779

From Captain Donald Campbell

Princeton [N.J.] 12th March 1779

I beg leave to inform your Excellency that on the 23 Ultmo I went to Newyork on Parole and on my Return to this Place on the 8 Instant was met at Bonham Town by Captn Conway of Dutchess County Virginia1 who informed me that he must search my Trunks and other Bagage & upon looking into it he took away some articles a List of which is inclosed2 on Pretence that I had brought them from Newyork notwithstanding of my having assured him that the whole of the things were merely for my own Use except a small Bundle which my Servant had in charge from some body at Newyork and of which I did not know the Contents.

your Excellency will be pleased to observe that any Resources a Prisoner has must come from Newyork and tho’ I am not an Inhabitant or Subject of the States I would not wish to act contrary to their Laws in any Respect but I apprehend your Excellency would by no means wish to distress a Person in my Situation, on the contrary I am in hopes your Excellency will be pleased to examine into this affair and if any Representation contrary to this shall be made to your Excellency I am ready to prove that it is equally false as injurious to my Character.

I hope your Excellency upon consideration will order the things to be restored. a full conviction that your Excellency gives no Countenance to any officer under your command proceeding as Captn Conway has done prompts me to inform you of it. I am here upon Parole under the Denomination of a state Prisoner—I have the Honour to be with the greatest Respect your Excellencys most obt & very humle Servt

D. Campbell Captn 74th Regt3 & Prisoner of War

ALS, DLC:GW. GW replied to Campbell in a letter of 28 March.

1Campbell’s identification of the officer who searched his belongings is unclear. Dutchess County is in New York rather than Virginia, and the most plausible captain is Henry Conway (1749–1812), who became a captain in the 14th Virginia Regiment in November 1776 and, upon that regiment’s reorganization in the fall of 1778, transferred to the 10th Virginia Regiment. Conway apparently resigned from the army in early March 1779 (see GW to Campbell, 28 March).

2The list that Campbell wrote at the end of his letter reads: “1 Pair of New shoes[,] 1 Piece Russia Drill for Trousars[,] 1 Piece Callico for a Nightgown[,] 1 Ld. Green Tea[,] Besides a Small Bundle which did not belong to me in charge of my Servant but I never knew any thing of it till examined by Captn Conway—D. Campbell.”

3Campbell’s commission as captain in the 74th Regiment of (Highland) Foot is dated 19 Dec. 1777.

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