George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Colonel James Wood, 16 March 1780

From Colonel James Wood

Charlotteville [Va.] 16th March 1780.


The Inclosed are Letters from Brigadier General Hamilton, who Commands the Convention Troops, to Major General Phillips in New York, the Brigadier Desires me to Inclose them to your Excellency, with a request that they may be forwarded by the first Flag. the Letters were Examined by me, before they were Sealed; they Contain besides Several matters respecting the internal police of the Convention Troops, a representation of the Scarcity of Provisions, which has Prevailed at this Post for Some time past, he mentions the Difficulty the Troops labour under, in being Obliged to Give the most Exorbitant Prices for the Necessaries of life, and particularly enumerates the Prices of Some Articles. I mention these Particulars that your Excellency may Judge of the Propriety, or impropriety, of Suffering Information of this Kind to be Communicated to the Enemy.1 when I took the Command at this Post, I found it in the Most Alarming Situation for want of Provision and Forage, Owing I Believe in a Great Measure, to the Extreme Severity of the Winter, and the Purchasing Commissary not being Supplied with an Adequate Sum of money in the fall of the year, when a Sufficient Quantity of Beef and Pork, might have been readily Procured. On this Subject I have wrote Very Fully to the Board of War.2

a Number of the Officers of Convention who are Valitudinary, are exceedingly Desirous of taking the Benifit of the Ensuing Season at the Warm Springs in Augusta and Berkeley, if they Can Obtain Permission. this Indulgence I am not at liberty to grant, by the resolution of Congress of the 21st August last, unless the Indulgence is Approved by the Board of War, or Your Excellency.3 I shou’d do great injustice to the Troops of Convention, if I did not inform You, that their Conduct Since I have had the Command, has been Perfectly Consistent with good Order and Propriety. I have the Honor of Inclosing your Excellency the Present State of the Convention Troops.4 I am with the Greatest respect Yr Excellency’s Very Obt Servt

James Wood.

ALS, DLC:GW; copy (photocopy), DNA: RG 93, Photocopies of State Records, Virginia.

1The enclosed letter from Brig. Gen. James Inglis Hamilton to Maj. Gen. William Phillips has not been identified, but see GW to Wood, 9 April.

2Wood’s letter to the Board of War has not been identified, but the board apparently enclosed that communication when it wrote Congress on 27 March (see DNA:PCC, item 148). Congress read the board’s letters of 26 and 27 March, “with sundry papers enclosed,” on the latter date (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 , 16:291).

3See 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 , 14:986.

4Wood divided the enclosed statement into two parts, one headed “State of the British Troops of Convention,” and the other “State of the German Troops of Convention.” The date “11th March 1780” followed both headings. Under British troops, Wood reported 1 brigadier general, 2 lieutenant colonels, 2 majors, 30 captains, 53 first lieutenants, 8 second lieutenants, 17 ensigns, 1 brigade major, 1 hospital surgeon, 2 hospital mates, 1 paymaster general, 1 commissary general, 4 commissaries, 1 commissary of horses, 3 chaplains, 3 adjutants, 6 quartermasters, 7 surgeons, 6 surgeon’s mates, 135 sergeants, 98 drummers, and 1,068 rank and file. Under German troops, Wood reported 2 brigadier generals, 0 colonels, 2 lieutenant colonels, 2 majors, 16 captains, 15 first lieutenants, 24 second lieutenants, 11 third lieutenants, 1 brigade major, 1 aide-de-camp, 0 paymaster generals, 6 adjutants, 5 quartermasters, 2 armorers, 3 judge advocates, 5 surgeons, 15 surgeon’s mates, 3 clerks, 5 provost marshals, 145 sergeants, 35 drummers, and 1,189 rank and file. Wood did not total the categories for either part. The numbers add to 1,450 for the British and 1,487 for the Germans, a combined total of 2,937. Wood closed with a “Note” that reads: “there are a Number of Deserters in the Different Goals, who are Considered Prisoners of war, and not Included in the Above States” (DLC:GW). A German officer’s report dated 16 Aug. gave the total of German prisoners at Charlottesville as 1,147 (see Stone, Riedesel description begins William L. Stone, trans. Memoirs, and Letters and Journals, of Major General Riedesel, during his Residence in America. 2 vols. Albany, 1868. description ends , 2:88).

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