George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Captain James Willing, 12 December 1780

From Captain James Willing

Long Island [N.Y.] Decr 12th 1780

Honble Sir

I have the honor of addressing your Excellency upon the most disagreable subject I have ever wrote on. I find by Commy Genl Skinner that the British will not Exchange me unless they receive a Lt Colo. for me, I was captur’d as Master & Commander of an Arm’d Vessell in the United States service, and held no rank in the Line of the Army higher than a Captain1 with respect to my Command refer you to Brigd. Genl Edwd Hand, who will inform you of the Orders he recv’d from Congress respecting me2—My situation is truly deplorable Major Skinner can inform you of it. resting assur’d your Excellency will exert yourself in my favour3 I have the honor to be your Excelly most Obt & very hble sert

Jas: Willing

ALS, DLC:GW. GW’s aide-de-camp Tench Tilghman wrote “orders given to the Commy of prisoners” on the docket (see Abraham Skinner to GW, 5 Jan. 1781, DLC:GW).

1For Willing’s capture, see Lewis J. Costigin to GW, 19 Dec. 1778, and n.1.

2Congress had given discretion to Brig. Gen. Edward Hand on 19 Feb. 1778 to provide Willing with provisions while the latter commanded “the armed boat Rattletrap” (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 , 10:184).

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