George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Galbreath Patterson, 10 January 1792

From Galbreath Patterson

Harrisburgh [Pa.] Jany 10th 1792.


In the Papers of my Father Wm Patterson I find Instructions signed by your Excellency March 1779 relative to Indian affairs under which he acted—I also find an account rendered of what monies came into his Hands for the prosecution your Order but presume be never received any compensation for his Services—The result of his enquiries or whether the Public was served is a matter I know nothing of, being too young at that time to have a knowledge of the transactions.1

What they were or whether we are entitled to any thing is a matter known only to your Excellency which has given rise to my address at this time & which has hitherto prevented my Application to Government.

I know my Father was a disappointed Man and lost the Oppertunity of raising his Family in the late Revolution which I am sorry for and which had made me remiss in this Business more particularly as I had not so good an Oppertunity of Addressing yourself untill you came to Philadelphia—Am married to a Daughter of General Thompson & settled at Harrisburgh in the practice of Law if you woud deign to write me an Answer or give it verbally to my Friend Mr Gregg it will be conclusive with me.2 I am with great respect Your Excellencys Obt Servt

Galbreath Patterson

ALS, DNA: RG 59, Miscellaneous Letters.

Galbreath (Galbraith) Patterson (1767–1801) was born in what is now Juniata County, Pennsylvania. Patterson received a classical education, studied law, and was admitted to the bar in 1789. He settled in Harrisburg and practiced law there until 1800, when he moved to Lycoming County (see Egle, Notes and Queries, description begins William Henry Egle, ed. Notes and Queries Historical and Genealogical Chiefly Relating to Interior Pennsylvania. 2 vols., 1st and 2d ser. 1894-95. Reprint. Baltimore, 1970. description ends 1st ser., 2:328–29).

1In March 1779 GW instructed Lt. Col. William Patterson (1737–1782) to ascertain the strength and disposition of the tribes making up the Six Nations (see GW to Patterson, 1, 2 Mar. 1779). The mission apparently was aborted. Patterson wrote GW on 3 April 1779, regarding the prohibitive costs involved, and again on 29 May 1779, reporting that further attempts to carry out GW’s instructions would be futile and asking GW’s orders regarding the disposition of the public money in his hands (see GW to Patterson, 11 April 1779, and Patterson to GW, 29 May 1779). GW replied on 22 June 1779, instructing Patterson to deposit the money with the paymaster general or his deputy.

2Patterson was married to Catharine Thompson Patterson (d. 1811), daughter of Brig. Gen. William Thompson of the Continental army (d. 1781), who was captured at Trois Rivières in June 1776 and exchanged in 1780. Andrew Gregg (1755–1835) served in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1791 to 1807 and the U.S. Senate from 1807 to 1813. Gregg was secretary of state of Pennsylvania from 1820 to 1823, when he ran unsuccessfully for governor. No reply to Patterson from GW has been found, nor is there any evidence that Patterson received compensation due his father for services rendered in the Revolutionary War.

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