George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Robert Hanson Harrison, 14 April 1781

Philadelphia April 14th 1781

Dr Sir

As soon as I came to the City, I applied to Doctr Baker for such pinchers as Your Excellency wanted, & finding he had but one pair, which he could not part with, I engaged him to procure a set. He has assured me he has made diligent inquiry upon the occasion & has not been able to succeed. The matter, he says, will still be retained in his mind and if he can find a pair, he will forward them to camp by the first Opportunity.

I have been detained here, ever since saturday Sennight by a painful indisposition, and though much better now, do not know whether I shall be in condition, especially if the Weather continues so exceedingly cold & disagreable to set out for four or Five days. This has prevented my going to the General Court on the Eastern Shore, at which I would willingly have been, & which ought to have begun on Tuesday Morning, but whether it did, is a matter of doubt, owing to the state of the Enemy in the Bay & the communication being, in a great degree, interrupted by them, between the Two Shores. Colo. Grayson has just arrived from the Southward & tells me they have done much more mischief up the River than I had heard of. He says they have burnt the whole of Colo. Barnes’s Houses near Leonard Town—robbed several—and that he was told on the road they had proceeded up Potomack as far as the Mouth of Portobacco Creek and burnt priest Hunter’s elegant buildings. They were there within Ten miles of my place. He also tells me a small pickerooning Vessel had beeb at Alexandria to cut some Vessel out of the port, which had been captured, after a chace of Sixty Miles down the River. What a defenseless condition are We in, to be liable to be insulted by a mere barge, such a distance from the Enemy’s post[?] Unless we should be so happy as to receive a reinforcement of Ships, & such as will give our Allies, a superiority in these seas, I think, we shall experience infinite distress this Summer, both in Virginia & Maryland Having been confined to the House ever since Monday week, I have had little or no opportunity of hearing much about politics or public affairs. I believe however, all our embarrassments, with respect [to] money, exist in full force, and how they are to be relieved, is a point as yet unsettled, & which I fear is too much for our wisdom. The constituting of Boards of Finance &c. &c. seems to be at an end, at least for the present. General StClair is here & has been much afflicted with the Gout. He and General Wayne, and indeed All the Officers I have seen, have been using their best endeavours to get things in train for advancing their Troops to the Southward. They are at a stand for Money, and I don’t know that they have a prospect of getting any, as the Assembly broke up Two or three days ago, without having provided a Supply. The supreme Court is sitting here, and I am just told the Grand Jury has found an information or Bill of Indictment against J. Mease & West for their conduct after the evacuation of the City by the Enemy in 1778. I hope they will be made to pay through the Nose for their iniquities. It is strange, but it is true, that several Men of high Character visit & are on terms of intimacy still with Mease. There has not been an arrival from any quarter since I came here, so that there is a dearth of news: There are Reports that Count DEstaing has sailed from Brest with Thirty three ships of the line & that ten of them are for Us—but I can’t find that these are well founded. I hope however we may expect succour. We never wanted it more. I request Your Excellency to present me most respectfully to Mrs Washington and the Gentlemen of the family & to accept my best wishes for your happiness. I am Dear Sir with the greatest [   ]Yr most Obed. st

Rob: H: Harrison

DLC: Papers of George Washington.

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