Mr. Printer – The authenticity of the following communication may be confidently relied on by the public as there
are now alive those who heard the person that now furnishes it, narrate the facts contained therein, immediately
after his return from Mount Vernon to the city of Annapolis, precisely as he is now about to state them. – B.G.
Washington county, Sept. 5, 1822
Whilst I was a student at law, in the city of Annapolis, the late Mr. John Parke Custis, was a pupil under the
Rev. Jonathan Boucher, of the same place, by permission of his father-in-law, the then Col. George Washington,
I accompanied young Custis to Mount Vernon, and passed the last week of the year (I think) 1772, and the first
week of 1773 at said place. Lord Sterling and Capt Foye, the latter of whom was at that time private secretary
to Lord Dunmore, the then governor of the Ancient Dominion (Virginia was so called at that day), being on the way
from Williamsburg to the city of New York, stopped at Mount Vernon, and continued there during three days, the
weather being very tempestuous and snowy.
The last night that said characters were there, just after the cloth was removed from the supper table, a man of
colour named Billy, Col. Washington’s favourite servant, who had been sent by his master to Alexandria for letters
and newspapers, entered the supper room and delivered to his master a large bundle containing letters and newspapers.
Col. Washington, with a cast of his hand, placed the newspapers about mid way the supper table, around which there
were then sitting a large company, Lord Sterling on the right, and Capt. Foye on the left hand of Mrs. Washington.
When Col. Washington so placed the papers, he requested that if they contained any important information, it might
be read aloud to the company.
It so happened that I laid my hand on an Eastern paper, which contained an article of intelligence to the following
effect . “That a Yankee smuggler, being pursued by one of the King’s vessels of war (and I think she was called
the Gaspee,) hugged the shore so closely that the former (the wind then blowing extremely hard,) missed stays and
run plump ashore. The neighboring brother Jonathans quickly collected in great numbers, the tide being at egg,
they soon boarded and burned her.” I read said article aloud to the company, and was immediately requested by Capt.
Foye to pass the newspaper to him, who, when he had read the article, he had the audacity to declare that “The
Yankees must be phlebotomised!” and that HE, yes, that HE, “would engage at the head of five thousand British regulars,
to march from Boston to Charleston, South Carolina, and put down all opposition to the revenue acts,” that had
been recently passed by the British Parliament for the purpose of raising a revenue in the British colonies.
Col. Washington, at the close of this insulting declaration, instantly fixing his eyes on Capt. Foye, observed
– “I question not, Sir, that you could march from Boston to Charleston, South Carolina, at the head of five thousand
British regulars; but do you mean to say, Sir, that you could do so, as a friend, or as an enemy? If as the latter,
and you will allow me a few weeks notice of your intention, I will engage to give you a handsome check with the
Virginia riflemen alone.” When Col. Washington was uttering the words “with the Virginia riflemen alone,” he struck
the table so violently with his clenched hand, that some wine glasses and a decanter near him with difficulty maintained
their upright positions. Captain Foye made no reply; but turned his face immediately towards Mrs. Washington, said
a few words to her, looked very silly, and soon after requested to be showed to his chamber! Col. Washington appeared
to be very much displeased.
Not a word was said by any of the company, if reference to said article of intelligence, while they remained in
the room; but when the Rev. Walter Magowan, who was one of the company, and who had resided some years before in
the Mount Vernon family as a private tutor to young Custis, had, with two other gentlemen and myself, arrived at
our bed chamber, he remarked that, during the whole time he had lived in Col. Washington’s family, he had never
seen the master of Mount Vernon so displeased as he appeared to have been that evening with Capt. Foye. I remained
two or three days at Mount Vernon after Foye took his departure therefrom, and then returned to Annapolis. This
occurrence took place some years (say four or five) before the commencement of hostilities, between a detachment
of the British army and the Provincials, at Lexington, and is now communicated as a strong proof that Col George
Washington had determined, long before hostilities did so begin, to oppose force to a British army should such
an attempt be made as that braggadocio Foye had the effrontery to say, in his presence, and at his own table, he
would carry into effect, at the head of 5000 British regulars.
From the Washington Republican
quoted in the Gettysburg Compiler, Gettysburg PA
October 9, 1822 Page 4
Submitted by Nancy Piper