The Papers of Henry Laurens

[Page 353]

Council of Safety to William Thomson


We have before us your Letter of the 25th. Inst. & intend the following as the present needful answer.
Your Zeal in dismissing Several disaffected Captains from Service in your Regiment of Militia merits commendation, the vacancies occasioned thereby ought to be forthwith filled up but as Commissions are not now to be obtained in the usual way we recommend to you to encourage volunteer Companies of about 68 Men, who, or the first collected 50. may chuse their own Officers, one Captain, two Lieutenants & one Ensign to whom we will give Commissions when we are informed of their names, the Mens Names & local Situation of each Company_
You judged well in giving a Blank Commission to Capt Imhoff for a Second Lieutenant_ but if you will reur[l] to our former Instructions you will See that the distinction of first & Second is now unnecessary._ The Return of your whole Regiment is is much wanted & we desire you will make it as Soon as possible, that of Capt Wise's particular Company is neither dated nor Signed, an Omission which you will guard against hereafter by Issuing proper Orders for that purpose.[Page 354]
We have found it necessary to grant The Honb¯le Mr. Drayton enlarged powers[2] hoping thereby to promote peace & good order in those parts where you are at present threatned with distraction; We therefore enjoin you to Cooperate with that Gentleman in Such measures as he may recommend & to add all the Military aid in your power when he may think proper to demand it.

In order to avoid repetitions we recommend a careful review of all our former Instructions & especially to keep the important Post of Fort Charlotte & the Safety of our Associated freinds at Augusta objects always in Sight.
Submitting to your own discretion at the proper time to determine on the propriety of your leaving the Camp we consent to your coming to Charles Town about the 10th. Septe¯m according to your request, but we desire you will in Such Case leave the Regiment under the Command of the Major.

For good & Sufficient reasons we have confirmed the Reappointment of Capt. Ezek. Polk to a Command by Mr. Drayton & Mr. Tennent but not to be incorporated with your Regiment, although Mr. Drayton may order him to be under your Command, for particulars in this Case we refer you to Mr. Drayton_ We have a right to expect that Capt. Polk's future behaviour will atone for his past misconduct; if he does not again disappoint us, a reunison with a Man of his influence & connexions will prove beneficial to our Cause.

We refer great confidence in you, & expect that upon every occasion you will transmit all necessary intelligence to us & that without delay. It affords us Satisfaction to learn that your Regiment is advancing in the knowledge of Military discipline in which no doubt[Page 355]you mean to comprehend that most essential branch, readiness to obey orders without questioning propriety or necessity.[3]

By order of the Council of Safety

Copy, HL Papers, ScHi; addressed below close "Collo. Thomson_"; dated "Charles Town 31st. August 1775".
[1.] Possibly "recur".
[2.] The Council of Safety decided, by a four to three vote, that the increasing likelihood of civil war in the backcountry necessitated an enlargement of William Henry Drayton's powers. And, in an August 31 dispatch, they "required and empowered" him "to take every decisive step, and to use every vigorous measure, which he may, or shall deem proper to promote the public service." William Thomson advised HL September 2, that Drayton had ordered "my Regiment of Rangers immediately to the Ridge." The Council of Safety responded to assure the lieutenant colonel that Drayton had not exceeded his authority. Drayton, Memoirs, I, 396-398; William Thomson to HL, Sept. 2, 1775; Council of Safety to William Thomson, Sept. 6, 1775, HL Papers, ScHi.
[3.] The discipline that Thomson admired in his troops probably concerned the art of military science rather than their willingness to follow orders. The Council of Safety had been informed as early as August 7, by Drayton and Tennent, that the "Rangers perform their exercise at least as well as the Regulars in Charles Town." But in the same dispatch the emissaries to the backcountry reported that the Rangers were on the verge of mutiny in a dispute concerning their pay.