George Washington Papers

To George Washington from William Moultrie, 30 July 1786

From William Moultrie

Charleston [S.C.] July 30. 1786

Dear Sir

The Gentleman who favors me with the delivery of this letter, is the Honle Wm Drayton Esqr. Council for this State, he will be on his return from the Federal Court, called to determine a dispute between this State & Georgia respecting their boundary lines, he wishes to be introduced to your Excellency.1 I have therefore taken the liberty of giving him this letter of introduction.2

Mrs Moultrie begs leave to join me in our best respects to Mrs Washington. I have to honor to be Dr Sir Your Excelly Most Obt hume Servt

Willm Moultrie

ALS, PHi: Gratz Collection; Sprague transcript, DLC:GW.

1The South Carolinians William Drayton and Walter Izard (c.1750–1788) arrived at Mount Vernon on 22 Oct. (Diaries description begins Donald Jackson and Dorothy Twohig, eds. The Diaries of George Washington. 6 vols. Charlottesville, Va., 1976–79. description ends , 5:55–56). GW’s new secretary, Tobias Lear, was present when GW told the South Carolinians what he remembered about the treachery of Benedict Arnold in 1780. In his diary entry for 22 Oct. Lear sets down his version of what GW said: “I confess I had a good opinion of Arnold before his treachery was brot to light; had that not been the case I should have had some reason to have suspected him sooner—for when he commanded in Philadelphia the Marquis de la Fayette brot accts from France of the armament which was to be sent to cooperate with us the ensuing Campaign. soon after this was known Arnold pretended to have some private business to transact for himself in Connecticut & on his way there he called at my quarters, & in the course of conversation expressed a desire of qu[i]tting Philadelphia & joining the Army the ensuing campaign. I told him that it was probable ⟨t[ha]t⟩ we should have a very active one & that if his wound & state of health would permit I should be extremely glad of his services with the army.

“He replied, that he did not think his wound would permit him to ⟨illegible⟩ persisted in his desire of being with the army. he went on to Connecticut & on his return called again upon me. he renewed his request of being with me next campaign & I made him same answer that I had done before. he again repeated that he did not think his wound would permit him to do active duty & intimated a desire to have the command at West point—I told him I did not think that would suit him so I should leave none in the Garrison but invaleeds because it would be entirely covered by the main Army. The Subject was dropt at that time & he returned to Philadelphia. It then appeared somewhat strange to me that a man of Arnolds known activity & enterprize should be desireous of taking so inactive a part. I however, thot no more of the matter. When the French troops arrived at Rhode Island—I had intilligence from New York that Genl Clinton intended to make an attack upon them before they could get themselves settled & fortified. in consequence of that, I was determined to attack New York which would be left pretty much exposed by his drawing off the troops, & accordingly formed my line of battle &c. and moved down with the whole army to King’s ferry which we passed. Arnold came to camp at that time & having no command & consequently no quarters (all the houses thereabout being occupied by the Army) he was obligd to seek lodgings at some distance from Camp. While the Army was crossing at Kings ferry—I was going to see the last detachment over & met Arnold who asked me if I had thot of anything for him. I told him that he was to have the command of the light troops wh. was a post of honour & which his Rank entitled him to. upon this information his Countenance changed & he appeared to be quite fallen & instead of thanking me or expressing any pleasure at the appointment, never opened his mouth. I desired him to go on to my quarters & get something to refresh himself & I would meet him there soon. he did so—upon his arrival there, he found Colo. Tilghman, whom he took on one side & mentioning what I had told him, seemed to express a great uneasiness at it—as his leg he said, would not permit him to be long on horse back, & intimated a great desire to have the command at West point. when I returned to my Quarters, Col⟨o⟩. Tilghman informed me of what had passed between him & Arnold. I made no reply to it—but his behavour struck me as strange & unaccountable. in the course of that Night, however, I recd information from New York that Genl Clinton had altered his plan & was debarking his troops. this information obliged me likewise to alter my disposition, (which was only consequent of his) & return to my former station where I could better cover the Country. I then determined to comply with Arnold’s desire & accordingly gave him the command of the Garrison at Wt Point. Things remained in this situation about a fortnight, when I wrote to the Count Rochambeau desiring to meet him at some intermediate place (as we could neither of us be long enough from his respective command to visit the other) in order to lay ⟨the⟩ plan for the seige of York town—& proposed Hartford, where I accordingly went & met the Count. On my return I met the Chevelier Luzern towards evening within about 15 miles of W. point on his way to join ⟨illegible⟩ Rhode [Island] which I intended to reach that night, but as he insi[s]ted upon turning back with me to the next publick house, where in politness to him I could not but tarry all night, determining however, to get to Wt Point to Breakfast—very early, I sent off my baggage & desired Coll Hamilton to go forward & inform Genl Arnold that I would breakfast with him—soon after he arrived at Arnold’s quarters, a letter was delivered to arnold which threw him into the greatest confusion. he told Col. Hamilton that something reqd his immediate attendance at the Garrison which was on the opposite sde of the River to his quarters—& immediately ordered a horse for him to ride to the River, & the Barge which he keep to cross, to be ready; & desired Majr Franks, his Aid, to inform me when I should arrive, that he was gone over the River & wou’d return immediatley. when I got to his quarters & not findg him there, I desird Majr Franks to order me some breakfast, & as I intended to visit the fortifications I would see Genl Arnold there. After I had breakfasted—I went over the River, & enquiring for Arnold, the Command⟨ing⟩ officer told me that he had not been there—I likewise enqured at the several Redoubts but no one could give me any information where he was. The impropriety of his Conduct when he knew, I was to be there, struck me very forcably & my mind misgave me, but I had not the least idea of the real cause. When I returned to Arnolds Quarters about 2 hours after and told Colo. Hamilton that I had not seen him—he gave me a paquet which had just arrived for me from Col. Jemmisson, which immediately brot the matter to light—I orderd Col. Hamilton to mount his horse & proceed with the greatest dispatch to a post on the river about ⟨illegible⟩, papers found upon him were in his possession. Colo. Jemmisson, when Andre was taken with these papers, could not beleive that Arnold was a traitor but rather thought it was an imposition of the British in order to destroy our Confidence in Arnold. he, however, immediately upon their being taken, dispatched an express after me, ordering him to ride night & day till he came up with me. the express went the lower road [(]which was the road by which I had gone to Connecticut) expecting that I should return by the same rout & that he sho’d meet me, but before he had proceeded far he was informed that I was returning by the upper road. he then cut across the Country & followed in my tract till I arrived at Wt Point. he arrived about 2 hours after & brot the above ⟨paqete mutilated Arnold gave orders illegible⟩ he ordered his men (who were very cleaver fellows & some of the better sort of soldiery) to proceed immediately on board the Vulture Sloop of war (as a flag) which was lying down the river, saying that they must be very expeditious as he must return in a short time to meet me, & promised them 2 Gallons of rum if they wou’d exert themselves. they did accordingly; but when they got on board the ship, instead of their two Gals. of rum, he ordered the Cockswain to be called down into the Cabin & informed him that he & the men must consider themselves as prisoners. the Cocksman was very much astonished, told him that they came on board under sanction of a flag. he answd that was nothing to the purpose—they were prisoners; but the Captain had more generosity than this mean, pittiful scoundrel & told the Cocksman that he would take his parole for him to go on shore & get cloaths, & whatever else was wanted for him & his compannions. he accordingly came, got his cloths &c. & returned on board; when they got to New York, General Clinton, ashamed of so low & mean an action, set them all at Liberty” (AD, owned [1989] by Mrs. Helen Marie Taylor, Orange, Va.). The only portions of Lear’s diary which have hitherto come to light are this entry of 22 Oct. 1786 along with the brief one for the following day and the entry containing Lear’s well-known account of GW’s death in 1799.

2Drayton had in hand another letter from Charleston, one from John Rutledge (1739–1800) dated 7 Aug.: “Mr Drayton proposing to pay his Respects in person, to you, I take the Liberty of giving him this Line of Introduction—you will find him a gentleman—in every Respect—worthy of Attention” (PP).

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