George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Major General Horatio Gates, 9 September 1779

From Major General Horatio Gates

providence 9th September 1779


I have the Honour to send Your Excellency, a Request of the Officers of Col: Webb’s Regiment;1 Also a Letter I received Yesterday from Lieutt Edwards, who has my directions to take Charge of The prisoners at—Rutland.2 I understand Major Mersereau’s Wife was in His Absence from Boston last Winter, Wheedled away by an Officer of The Convention Troops;3 I suppose the Major is gone to Virginia, in Search of Her. As This Woman, has a most Commanding Influence Over her Dashing Husband, Your Excellency will doubtless approve of my Giving You this information. The following is an Extract of a Letter from Col: Chase D.Q.M. General at Boston, Dated 14th August last, “There is One Myres in This Town, who left the Troops of The Convention when They first Arrived at Cambridge, & is now One of Our Hawkers; He was a Sutler in General Riedesel’s Regiment; please to give me directions whether to take him Up, or Not.” A Charecter so Suspicious, Your Excellency may be Assured I Order’d to be Arrested. Since then, I have received a petition, Sign’d by a Number of respectable Inhabitants, requesting the Liberation of Mr Myres; I have Orderd Town Major Rice to Examine Cautiously, & particularly into The Affair and, if he finds no reason to Suspect Myres’s fidelity to The U.S.; to release him; Upon Giving good, & Sufficient Bail. Myres is a German, & Came to America with General Ridesel’s Regiment; & is a Conventioner. I wish Your Excellency’s Sentiments hereupon; as I cannot Divest myself of The Opinion That he is very probably Employ’d as a Spy by The Enemy.5 He is a fellow of Talents, & Address. I am, Sir, Your Excellency’s, most Obedient, Humble Servant,

Horatio Gates

ALS, NHi: Gates Papers.

1The officers’ petition has not been identified, but the officers were requesting their commissions (see GW to Gates, 29 Sept.; see also Ebenezer Huntington’s letter to Gates, dated 6 Sept., in Gregory and Dunnings, “Gates Papers” description begins James Gregory and Thomas Dunnings, eds. “Horatio Gates Papers, 1726–1828.” Sanford, N.C., 1979. Microfilm. description ends ).

2This letter has not been identified, but it may have been a report from Lt. Thomas Edwards regarding conditions at the military prison at Rutland, Mass., which Gates had promised in his letter to GW of 25 July (see also GW to Gates, 29 Sept.). In April 1778, the Convention Army had been sent to Rutland (see William Heath to GW, 13 April 1778). Then, in November, those prisoners either too sick or too severely wounded to make the march to Albemarle County, Va., with the rest of the Convention Army, were left at Rutland. The men were quartered there with some German prisoners from the Battle of Bennington and some other captured British officers (Sampson, British Convention Prisoners, description begins Richard Sampson. Escape in America: The British Convention Prisoners, 1777–1783. United Kingdom, 1995. description ends 107). For Gates’s orders to Edwards, see Gates to GW, 25 July, n.3.

3Joshua Mersereau was the deputy commissary of prisoners.

4Gates had ordered the arrest of Mark Myers (Myres) as a person “Suspected of Transactions, dangerous and unfriendly to the United States,” but—as he explains here—Gates had subsequently received a “Memorial” from Myers (Gates to John Rice, 3 Sept. 1779, Gregory and Dunnings, “Gates Papers” description begins James Gregory and Thomas Dunnings, eds. “Horatio Gates Papers, 1726–1828.” Sanford, N.C., 1979. Microfilm. description ends ).

5GW replied on 29 September.

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