George Washington Papers

To George Washington from George Walton, 11 November 1780

From George Walton

philadelphia, 11 November, 1780.


Your Excellency will be pleased to recollect, that, sometime since, the delegates of Georgia addressed you respecting lieutenant Morris, of the Southern artillery, and to which you answered, that you would transmit the proposal to Sir Henry Clinton. A considerable1 time has now elapsed, and Mr Morris remaining in a disagreable state of suspence, I cannot forbear to entreat your farther attention to his case.2

Congress, in the former part of the present year, referred an application from the same State, to the Commander in chief. It was respecting Samuel Elbert, esquire, Colonel and principal Officer in the line of the State, and Brigadier-general of the militia, who being a prisoner of war, the Government was very solicitous to procure his exchange. Should you have done any thing in consequence of this reference, I should be happy in having it in my power to make the communication.3

Major general Lincoln, during his command of the Southern Army, made a proposition to Major-general Prevost, to exchange Elbert for Governor Wright: but the latter objecting that he ought to be considered as a prisoner, it was referred to the decision of Sir Henry Clinton. General Lincoln can advise particularly respecting this business; and I rely upon your Excellency’s moving in it to a proper length.4

Mr & Mrs Matthews inform me that an application is about to be made to Sir Henry Clinton, thro’ Your Excellency, for permission for the latter to go in a flag to Charles-Town;5 and Mrs Walton’s Sister, (who is now with us,) having an Estate of negroes in Georgia; Seems inclined to embrace so good an opportunity of going there: I request, therefore, that you will apply also for leave for Miss Ann-Sarah Camber, to go to Savannah in Georgia, by way of Charles-Town in South-Carolina.6

As it will be her wish to return to her Sister, by this or some other flag, I leave it to your Excellency to determine, whether it is necessary to mention such intention—Or whether it may not be left open, and for her to depend upon a passport to return from The Commanding Officer there? If There Could be no doubt of Sir Henry’s agreeing to give a permission to return at leisure, I could wish it asked for altho it might increase the difficulty of getting her negroes. Miss Camber is hopeful of returning this winter; but I think it improbable.7 I have the honor to be, with great respect, Your Excellency’s most Obedient servant,

Geo. Walton

ALS, PHi: Gratz Collection. GW’s aide-de-camp Tench Tilghman wrote notes on this letter for GW’s reply (see n.7 below).

1Walton split this word between lines and capitalized the “s” at the left margin.

2For the requested exchange of Lt. Thomas Morris, see Georgia Delegates in Congress to GW, 2 Aug.; see also GW to Henry Clinton, 17 Sept., found at GW to Georgia Delegates in Congress, 15 Sept., n.2.

3For congressional consideration of Col. Samuel Elbert’s exchange, see Samuel Huntington to GW, 12 Feb.; see also GW to Huntington, 23 February.

4An exchange eventually was arranged for Elbert (see Walton and Richard Howly to GW, 7 Aug. 1781, and GW to Walton and Howly, 13 Aug. 1781, both DLC:GW; see also the general orders for 6 Oct. 1781).

6GW extended the request for Ann Sarah Camber when he wrote Gen. Henry Clinton on 20 November.

Dorothy Camber Walton (1754–1832), whose father was a staunch Loyalist, married George Walton in 1775.

Ann Sarah Camber (1765–1802) married John Habersham in 1783. Habersham was appointed collector of customs at Savannah during GW’s first presidential term (see Habersham to GW, 2 Dec. 1789, in Papers, Presidential Series description begins W. W. Abbot et al., eds. The Papers of George Washington, Presidential Series. 19 vols. to date. Charlottesville, Va., 1987–. description ends 4:356).

7GW replied to Walton from headquarters at Passaic Falls on 19 Nov. 1780: “I was honored on the 17th with your favor of 11th: I proposed the exchange of Lieut. Morris for Mr Burke, to Sir Henry Clinton, on the 15th Septemr last, but I have not received any answer from him on the subject—I shall take occasion to remind him of the application, in a letter I shall write to him tomorrow.

“Congress, by their Resolve of the 11th Feby last, directed me to pay due regard to the exchange of Brigr or Colo. Elbert, should a general exchange, which was at that time in contemplation, be carried into execution—This I should most certainly have done, had the exchange taken effect, but the negociation was broken off, for want of proper powers on the part of the British Commissioners, and the matter has since rested. Congress have, as you must know, directed me to make new propositions for the exchange of the Convention Troops against our southern prisoners—should the terms be acceded to—Mr Elbert will be exchanged, in turn, in the Rank of Brigadier of Militia or Colonel of Continental troops, according to the command he held when taken. I am informed, that the enemy claim him as Brigadier.

“I am ignorant of any transactions which may have passed between General Lincoln and Genl prevost on the subject.

“I have requested liberty for Miss Camber to go to Charles town in the Flag sloop, Carolina packet—upon the same terms as those asked for Mrs Mathews” (Df, in Tench Tilghman’s writing, DLC:GW; Varick transcript, DLC:GW; see also both letters from the Commissioners for the Exchange of Prisoners, 26 March [letter 1; letter 2]; Huntington to GW, 12 Nov.; and n.5 above). The final ten words of this letter replaced struck-out material on the draft that reads: “I am of opinion with you that it will increase the difficulty, to include a promise of permitt & her return to Philada in the request, and I shall therefore simply ask permission for her passage [to] Charles town.”

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