George Weedon letter to William Phillips, 1781 April 12 : manuscript copy

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George Weedon letter to William Phillips, 1781 April 12 : manuscript copy



Retained copy of a letter of American Brigadier General George Weedon to British Major General William Phillips concerning prisoners of war. Weedon expresses his desire "to render the Circumstances of war as little afflicting as possible ..." He notes he is willing to exchange prisoners or grant paroles when exchanges aren't "Subject to my will."

Phillips himself had been a prisoner of war. Captured at the Battle of Saratoga in 1777, he was exchanged for the American general, Benjamin Lincoln, who was captured at Charleston in 1780. Shortly after rejoining the army, Phillips was sent to Virginia where he operated with the traitor, Benedict Arnold. He achieved a number of successes in the field before dying at Petersburg on May 13, 1781.

Weedon was present at the Siege of Yorktown where he commanded American militia at Gloucester Point. He survived the war returning to Fredericksburg where he died in 1793.


Text Item Type Metadata


Williamsburg Apl. 12th 1781


I am honored with your polite letter
6th Inst. and should have paid earlier respect to
it, but from some Circumstances which Occationd
unavoidable delay. I am now to thank you for
your particular attention to my two Flags born by
Lt. Colo. Mathews and Major Collis of which I retain
a greatful sense, and also approve your Liberal
proposals respecting exchange, and paroles, and do
on my part close with you so far as my Authority
may in any case extend. And that we may the
better understand each other shall be explicite in
what I mean as the line of my Conduct while com-
manding here. I will with great chearfulness
contribute as far as in my power to render the
Circumstances of the war as little afflicting as
possible, more especially by encouraging exchanges
on just principles, and giving paroles where Exhan-
ges aren't Subject to my will. - With respect to
officers the right of turn in exchange I consider as
sacred, and cannot consent to anything by which
those Gentlemen shall be posponed, who have been
longest in Captivity, but I freely agree to paroling
them on boath sides till exchanged by regular turn.
With respect to privates I think myself right when
I say I cannot consider any prisoners of war but
such as are taken Actually in Arms, or are in
the Service of the States. Any prisoners taken

Page 2

by our Militia while no Contenental Troops are
Acting with them, are Subject to the Seperate disposa[l]
of the state untill Delivered over to the Continental
Commissary of prisoners, the numbers of these with
us, I do not know. They may or may not increase. I
consent chearfully as far as they may extend to Exchange
them for such of our Militia as has been or shall
be taken in Arms, As to those which have been put
into possession of the Continental Commissary of
prisoners, they can only be Exchanged or enlarged under
Continental Authority, in which case the Commanding
officer in the State must be consulted. I will certainly
do every thing in my power to promote it in the fulest
latitude whenever I may have the honor to command.

You are too well informed of the profession
of Arms not to know the Military are by no means
Answerable for the resolutions of the Civil, And should
be sorry to see the rigours of war extended to the innocent
on Account of anything done by them, that
may, or may not, be Approved by you. This far
however I think I can venture to say, that while a
Liberal and just Conduct is observed on your part,
the Authority of this Sate will not be wanting in
Similar professions. -

I have the Honor to be with
Sentiments of personal respect and regd.
yr. Most Obt Servt
G. Weedon BG


Copy to Genl. Phillips
Apl. 14th 1781.

Original Format

Ink on paper


Weedon, George, 1734-1793, “George Weedon letter to William Phillips, 1781 April 12 : manuscript copy,” Special Collections, John D. Rockefeller Jr. Library, Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, accessed November 27, 2022,

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