84
84
Henry, Patrick, as War Governor of Virginia
Estimate
12,00018,000
LOT SOLD. 20,000 USD
JUMP TO LOT
84
Henry, Patrick, as War Governor of Virginia
Estimate
12,00018,000
LOT SOLD. 20,000 USD
JUMP TO LOT

Details & Cataloguing

The JAMES S. COPLEY LIBRARY: MAGNIFICENT AMERICAN HISTORICAL DOCUMENTS: FIRST SELECTION

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Henry, Patrick, as War Governor of Virginia
Autograph letter signed ("P. Henry"), 2 pages (12 3/4 x 8 in.; 324 x 204 mm), Williamsburgh, [Virginia], 8 August 1777, to the Virginia delegates in the Continental Congress (in Philadelphia); formerly folded, fold tears mended affecting (but not obscuring) one line, marginal mends at three edges affecting a few letters in last line of first page, a few small stains. Green half-morocco drop-box, gilt-stamped title on calf spine label, with lithographic portrait laid in.
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Literature

Pennsylvania Archives, 2nd series, vol. 3 (1875), pp. 116-118; W.W. Henry, Patrick Henry, vol. 3 (1891), pp. 86-88 (with incorrect date)

Catalogue Note

The Governor and the Colonel in conflict.

The actions of one Virginia-born officer, Colonel Edward Carrington (1749–1810) were so outrageous that the Virginia Council of Safety voted unanimously that Henry take the matter before Congress. In the letter he explains that Carrington, who became Lieutenant Colonel of Colonel Charles Harrison's regiment in November 1776, had written Henry "... desiring me not to appoint any of Colo. Harrison's Corps, officers in the Virg[ini]a Artillery."

The desire of a Continental officer to prevent "poaching" of this kind for state regiments was understandable, but Henry felt that Carrington had gone too far:"I could not help considering this a very officious intermeddling, because he did not command the regiment, & because he thereby tells me, not what I ought to do but what I ought not to do. Add to this, the Congress the General Assembly & the Executive here, have constantly proceeded on a different principle."

Henry points out that Harrison's artillery regiment has drained off many qualified Virginia soldiers:"... But more especially in the formation of that Regiment the Congress & Executive called into it a great variety of Officers from other Corps. It is observable that almost all the Artillery officers & Soldiers which served this State are thrown into that Regiment, among whom the Gentleman himself [Carrington] made one ..."

Henry tells of one artilleryman who was actually physically restrained from leaving Harrison's regiment:"... After Mr. Ancram a Li[euten]ant in that Corps was appointed a Captain in the Regiment ordered by our Assembly, he informed me, that Colo. Carrington peremptorily ordered him to his Station at York, at the same Time he asked me for my protection. I promised it to him, & have too much Reason to apprehend from Mr. Carringtons former Expressions of Discontent and Dislike to the proceeding of our Assembly & from the above recited particulars, there will be occasion for it. By his Letter it appears he is restrain'd from leaving his post, altho' it is not pretended that there is the least danger there & it is certain there is not a due proportion of men to the officers by one half ..."

The Virginia government, Henry remarks, was proud to see young men from their state like Carrington become Continental officers: "But if our officers in this, or any other Manner, becoming Continental, may with Impunity forget that Respect which is due to his Country, I would beg you will judge of the Consequences." He reminds Congress that, in the past, Virginia has sent troops raised for her own use for the "general defence," but he warns:"... will not these be retain'd in future, if those of the Continent do not behave in a becoming Manner. In short, will not — 'Tis too painful for Reflection. The Evils flowing from Discord are so many & obvious, that I need not dwell on the Subject ..."

In closing: "I have to request Gentlemen, that you will lay this Matter before Congress without loss of Time. For altho' I believe Mr. Ancram & two non-commission'd officers, are all that have been promoted from Colo. Harrisons Regiment, & the recruiting Business stop as to them only yet I shall not be easy so long as the Insult which Government has received passed with Impunity."

No sooner did the Virginia delegates lay Henry's letter before the Congress, than the delegates resolved not only that any officer in Harrison's company might, if he wished, accept a commission in a Virginia artillery unit, but they went so far as to place Harrison's regiment "under the direction of his excellency Governor Henry, during the time of its stay in that State ..." As for Carrington, his behavior was denounced as "highly indecent and reprehensible," and he was warned that he would be dismissed from the service unless he apologized to Governor Henry (Journals of the Continental Congress, 8:655-656).

The JAMES S. COPLEY LIBRARY: MAGNIFICENT AMERICAN HISTORICAL DOCUMENTS: FIRST SELECTION

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New York