George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Major General William Phillips, 7 July 1779

From Major General William Phillips

Charlottes Ville [Va.] July 7th 1779


Captain Edmonstone of the Troops of Convention, who will probably have the honour of delivering you, Sir, this letter, goes by permission of the Governor of Virginia and Colonel Bland to Philadelphia to be Exchanged, Sir Henry Clinton having signified to me his intentions of settling with Your Excellency the Exchange of this Officer for an American Officer Prisoner of War.

Very urgent and pressing Family Affairs which require this Gentlema⟨ns⟩ presence in England are the causes of Sir Henry Clinton’s signification to me, and my application, in consequence, to Your Excellency for his Exchange, and I hope he will obtain your favour that he may not be detained in his Journey to New York.1

I take the liberty of enclosing to you, Sir, the Copy of a letter I have written to Colonel Bland on the Subject of Two Officers from the Troops of Convention having permission to go by land to Canada.2

I shall hope for your Protection and Interest with the Board of War in favour of my request, to whose Consideration Colonel Bland, I understand, has referred my letter to him on that head.3 I have the honour to be, Sir, With much personal Respect Your Excellency’s most obedient most humble Servant

W. Phillips

LS, DLC:GW. GW’s secretary Robert Hanson Harrison wrote “anticip[ate]d in part” on the docket of this letter.

1For the travel and exchange of Capt. Archibald Edmonstone, see Phillips to GW, 6 June, and Theodorick Bland to the Board of War, 31 May, at Peter Scull to GW, 18–19 June, n.1; see also Scull to GW, 3 Aug., and GW to the Board of War, 10 Aug., both DLC:GW, and Phillips to Bland, 29 May, in Campbell, Bland Papers, description begins Charles Campbell, ed. The Bland Papers: Being a Selection from the Manuscripts of Colonel Theodorick Bland, Jr., of Prince George County, Virginia. 2 vols. Petersburg, Va., 1840-43. description ends 1:130–1.

2The enclosure was a copy of a letter from Phillips to Col. Theodorick Bland, written at “Colonel [Edward] Carter’s House” on 1 July: “You are sensible, Sir, that the Troops of Convention were a Corps of Troops formed from the Army in Canada, and consequently that since the treaty of Convention of Saratoga the several Regimental accounts with the Paymaster General in that province, the Hospital and provision Accounts and a variety of other matters have remained unsettled—There are beside several Contracts which were made with persons in Canada which are unliquidated to the great injury of Individuals.

“As it can be of no advantage to the operations of war on either side to distress persons who have been engaged therein as Contractors and Paymasters, and that the settling publick accounts is necessary for the safety of Individuals, I am convinced, Sir, that the liberality of your sentiments will prompt you to assist me in a request which leads only to purposes above described and in which neither the operations of the Campaign nor the situation of the troops of Convention can in any manner interfere.

“I have to desire that two Officers be allowed to go from hence to Canada by the way of Lake Champlain and that having transacted the business for which they will be sent that they return and join the Troops of Convention in Virginia. The time required for doing this will be, I apprehend, from three to four months and your good sense and knowledge in military Affairs will convince you that this is not a season for any American Expeditions against Canada so that these Officers were they ever so inclined could not carry any intelligence to that province, and as their route will probably be higher up the Country than any Operations between General Washington and Sir Henry Clinton they will be equally ignorant of any little matter of news relating to the Armies of those Generals—I mention these particulars, Sir, to assure you that I have no view but that I have expressed at the begining of this letter in my wishes to send these Officers to Canada; at any rate, Sir, they may be under whatever restriction of parole you please in which I will, also, join if you think it necessary.

“I do not know whether it may be in your power or the Governor of Virginia to grant this my request, should it depend on General Washington or the American Congress, I will most earnestly solicit your intercession with them on the occasion.

“I have not mentioned particularly the Clothing which is wanting for some of the German Corps altho’ that is an additional reason why I should wish to send by land to Canada in order that it may be sent from thence before the winter: and, I have further to observe that my desiring two Officers should go is merely that if one be taken ill the other may proceed upon the journey.

“I apprehend that should my request be granted the Officers will be directed to take their final departure and orders from General Schuyler at Albany, a mode which has been already practised as it related to some of our Officers going into Canada.

“If, Sir, it be not in your power to grant my request I will take the liberty to hope you will be so good to write to General Washington or the American Congress as You may see proper for their sense of the matter” (DLC:GW).

3Congress refused to authorize the travel of Convention Army officers to Canada, which required GW to countermand his conditional approval (see GW to Bland, 27 July and 31 Aug. [NN: Myers Collection]; John Jay to GW, 24 Aug. [DLC:GW]; GW to Jay, 31 Aug.–1 Sept. [DNA:PCC, item 152]; and JCC, description begins Worthington Chauncey Ford et al., eds. Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774-1789. 34 vols. Washington, D.C., 1904–37. description ends 14:933–34, 985–86).

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