George Washington Papers

From George Washington to Major General Benjamin Lincoln, 8 November 1780

To Major General Benjamin Lincoln

Hd Qrs Passaic Falls 8th Novr 1780.

My dear Sir,

I have now the pleasure to congratulate you upon your exchange—The certificate of it will be transmitted to you by the Commissary of Prisoners—Majrs Bailey and Jackson are also exchanged.1

I do not mean by this notice to hasten your return to the Army, for that alas! is upon the eve of its annual dissolution & consequently of the Enemys advantages—I am of opinion that your influence, and exertion in procuring the State’s quota of Troops for the War2—providing funds for the subsistence of them—Magazines—&ca will be of infinite more importance in your own State this winter than it can be to become a mere spectator, or fellow sufferer of hunger & cold (from a scantiness of Provision and Cloathing) which I expect the small remains of our Army will have to encounter in a very short time—and more than probably to contend with them during the winter.

But at the same time I give this as an opinion I leave you at full liberty to pursue the bent of your inclination and judgment3—being very sincerely Dr Sir Yr Affecte & Obedt Servt

Go: Washington

ALS, MH; ADfS, DLC:GW; Varick transcript, DLC:GW. GW addressed his draft to Lincoln at Boston.

1Lincoln and his aides-de-camp Hodijah Baylies and William Jackson had been prisoners since the surrender of Charleston (see Duportail to GW, 17 May, and notes 1 and 7). GW actively had sought Lincoln’s exchange (see his letter to Lincoln, 10 Sept., and Lincoln to GW, 25 Sept.; see also GW to Abraham Skinner, this date, and Mattern, Benjamin Lincoln description begins David B. Mattern. Benjamin Lincoln and the American Revolution. Columbia, S.C., 1995. description ends , 114–15).

William Jackson (1759–1828) immigrated to Charleston from England and served as lieutenant in the 1st South Carolina Regiment from May 1776 until his promotion to captain in October 1779. He became Lincoln’s aide-de-camp in 1780 and held the rank of major when taken prisoner on 12 May. Jackson went to France in early 1781 as secretary to John Laurens, whom Congress had selected as a special envoy (see Laurens to GW, 23 Dec. 1780, found at Laurens to GW, 6 Nov. 1780, n.2). Jackson returned to the United States in February 1782 and served as assistant secretary of war until resigning that position in October 1783. He subsequently served as secretary for the Constitutional Convention in 1787 and as one of GW’s presidential secretaries (1789–91). He remained active in land speculation, politics, and the Society of the Cincinnati for the remainder of his life.

2The new arrangement of the Continental army required ten infantry regiments and one artillery regiment from Massachusetts (see General Orders, 1 Nov. 1780).

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