George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Alexander Spotswood, 15 April 1779

From Alexander Spotswood

Fredericksburg [Va.] April 15th 1779

I had the Honr to receive your excellencys letter on my return from the petersburg races1—& I was happy I did not meet with any horses that woud answer your purpose, as I found by your letter that you gave the preference to mares.

The bearer of this brings on a Mare & gelding—the mare is four years Old & well bred, has been used a little to the Saddle & charriot—& promises fairly to excell in both—the horse is five years Old exceeding Strong & active, & when fat very handsome—he is a horse that probably will not at first view attract your Attention—but on useing him a few Weeks, am certain you will be pleased with him—the Other horse I shall bring on to camp, where I expect to be by the 6th of may—On my way up I shall be at the baltimore races, where I am in hopes I shall be able to procure another mare2—shoud I fail, will bring on an exceeding fine horse that I am offered, but with this provisor, that he shall be returned, shoud yr excellency chuse to wait, until a mare can be procured, with love to your lady if with you—and Compts to all freinds Concludes me with great Respect & Esteem yr Excellencys Mt Obt St

A. Spotswood

ALS, DLC:GW. The letter was sent “To the care of Colo. Wm Washington.”

1GW’s letter to Spotswood has not been found. Three racecourses existed in and around Petersburg, Va., during the Revolutionary War. Pride’s race ground in the Battersea neighborhood on the Appomattox River was the most popular of the three, and presumably the site of the “Petersburg races” (see Edward A. Wyatt IV, “Newmarket of the Virginia Turf,” WMQ description begins The William and Mary Quarterly: A Magazine of Early American History. Williamsburg, Va. description ends , 2d ser., 17 [1937]: 481–95).

2Two popular racecourses existed in Baltimore after the founding of the Maryland Jockey Club in 1745. The first was at Whetstone Point, now Locust Point, along the Patapsco River in southern Baltimore; the second, officially sanctioned by the city commissioners for purses ranging from £5 to £1,500, was located on property owned by John Eager Howard at what is now Pine Street and Lexington Market.

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