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    [Benjamin Lincoln] Revolutionary War: Virginia Officers' Petition. Two pages, two sided, with integral address leaf, 8" x 12.5", "Chs.Town, Apr. 11th, 1780." In September 1778, Major General Benjamin Lincoln was appointed Southern Department Commander of the Continental Army. Shortly thereafter, he participated in the attack on Savannah and was forced to retreat to Charleston, South Carolina, where he took command of that city's garrison.

    In March, the city was surrounded by a sizeable British force dispatched from the northern colonies and Lincoln grew desperate for more troops. After approaching the South Carolina legislature with a request to arm slaves to assist in the conflict, Lincoln ordered his two Virginia Continental detachments, commanded by Colonels Richard Parker and William Heth, to return from Augusta. Parker's and Heth's men had been serving in the Southern Department since the previous year at Augusta, to respond to any movements by the British up the Savannah River. Directing a battalion of Georgia and South Carolina militia to take their place at Augusta, Lincoln requested that the Virginians "march with all possible dispatch" to Charleston. These troops gave Lincoln approximately 350 additional rank and file with which to defend the city, but created a great deal of controversy amongst the officers of these detachments.

    It was at this time that this petition was penned. The document, submitted to Major Lincoln by a group of his officers, outlines their complaints about the reorganization of various lines of troops and regiments. It describes the complications that arose when a portion of an established regiment was combined with a newly created regiment, and details the resulting disagreements about which men were in charge and which were not. After issuing their complaints, the officers proposed their own solution.

    In part: "We submit the following as it appears the most just & equitable arrangement to your better judgment, Viz. each Coll. in the Virginia Line to take his Regt. to the remaining Regts. to be divided among them in such a manner as to make their Command as nearly equal as circumstances will admit. The New Lines at the same time will equally be divided by joining such Regts. as they think proper. This will give satisfaction to us."

    Rather than be forced to arm slaves, the South Carolina legislature began negotiations with the British commanders to allow the British forces to pass through South Carolina. This was one of the worst Continental defeats of the war. Lincoln's entire army was held prisoner and Lincoln was denied the honors of war in surrendering, which deeply rankled him.

    This intriguing document is signed by Col. Richard Parker, who was killed at the siege of Charleston less than two weeks after the petition was penned, and by Lt. Col. Gus B. Wallace, Brigadier General Charles Scott, Lt. Col. Samuel Hopkins, Major William Lewis, and Col. William Heth, all of whom were held prisoner in Charleston, several through the end of the war. Document is lightly age toned with minor wear along the edges. Ink is gently faded; generally fine condition. An outstanding document signed at an important impasse in our nation's military history.


    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    June, 2009
    16th-17th Tuesday-Wednesday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 1
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
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