George Washington Papers

From George Washington to Richard Butler, 7 April 1791

To Richard Butler

Mount Vernon, April 7th 1791.


The necessity of placing the organization of the Virginia battalion of levies upon a certain footing before I leave Mount Vernon, which I shall do this morning, has induced me to authorise Colonel Darke, who lives near Shepherd’s town in Berkley-county to appoint all the Officers to the battalion, and when they are appointed to direct the Major to repair to Philadelphia to receive the orders of the Secretary of war, and the other officers to commence the recruiting service.

Should Colonel Hall decline, and Colonel Darke chuses to accept, he will be appointed to command the regiment.

I have given this information to you to prevent any clashing in the measures which might be adopted to officer the battalion, and as it may be best that you should see Colonel Darke as soon as you have finished what remains to be done in Maryland—I have informed him that you are on the way through Maryland to Virginia for the purpose of completing the arrangements of both battalions, informing him that he is in the meantime to continue the service which I have requested him to perform.1 I am Sir, your most obedient Servant

G. Washington.


Richard Butler (1743–1791), a native of Ireland, settled with his father near Lancaster, Pa., and served in the French and Indian War, afterwards establishing himself as a trader on the Pennsylvania frontier. Brevetted a brigadier general during the Revolutionary War, he concluded several important treaties with the western Indian nations and was appointed superintendent of Indian affairs for the northern district in 1786. GW appointed Butler major general and second-in-command of Arthur St. Clair’s campaign, and he was given command of the temporary levies. Disputes between Butler and St. Clair undoubtedly contributed to the failure of the expedition. Butler led the right wing of the army during the battle of 4 Nov. 1791 and was mortally wounded.

1For GW’s correspondence with William Darke concerning command of the Virginia battalion, see GW to Darke, 4, 7 April. On 7 April GW asked Otho H. Williams to deliver the above letter to Butler, noting that “It is of importance to the public service that the enclosed letter should be received by General Butler as soon as possible” (LS, MdHi: Otho Holland Williams Papers).

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