Our Collection

At the Institute’s core is the Gilder Lehrman Collection, one of the great archives in American history. More than 70,000 items cover five hundred years of American history, from Columbus’s 1493 letter describing the New World to soldiers’ letters from World War II and Vietnam. Explore primary sources, visit exhibitions in person or online, or bring your class on a field trip.

Walton, George (1740-1804) to Benjamin Lincoln

High-resolution images are available to schools and libraries via subscription to American History, 1493-1943. Check to see if your school or library already has a subscription. Or click here for more information. You may also order a pdf of the image from us here.

Gilder Lehrman Collection #: GLC01019 Author/Creator: Walton, George (1740-1804) Place Written: Sunbury, Georgia Type: Autograph letter signed Date: September 1779 Pagination: 2 p. : docket ; 30.5 x 19.2 cm.

Written by Walton, a signer of the Declaration of Independence and Colonel in the First Georgia Battalion who was severely wounded and captured during the Battle of Savannah in December 1778, to Lincoln as commander of the Southern Department. Walton sent Major Habersaw to British General Augustine Prevost to request relief for American prisoners in Sunbury, but Habershaw was denied entry into Savannah. In response, Major Lane was sent with this letter to Lincoln to request relief. Hopes the prisoners can be exchanged for British prisoners or made prisoners at large in America. Says that the prisoners have been threatened with massacre by Indians, under the pretense of being armed. Says "it is the most earnest desire of the prisoners to be at liberty." Also claims that provisions are running low. Walton was exchanged for a naval captain shortly after this was written and was elected Governor of Georgia in November 1779.

Sunbury, September, 1779.
Sir,
I sent Major Habersham to General Prevost several days ago upon the subject of the present letter; and I have since heard that he was not permitted to go into Savannah. I have, therefore, thought it advisable to send Major lane to your Excellency, to give you a particular amount of our situation, and to request that you will take some measures to relieve us. Among other things, he will inform you, that, since Major Habersham left this place, a body of armed men entered it, and threatned the [struck: Indians] [inserted: prisoners] with a Massacre by the Indians, under the pretence of their being armed. This insult would certainly have justified our seeking protection with our friends; but we have still continued in this exposed situation. Two of these very men have since been killed by a party of ours; and it is believed the survivors would not hesitate to steal into Town, and murder unarmed men, for what they call satisfaction.
After referring the mode and substance of our relief entirely to your to your Excellency, I by have to suggest, that it is the most earnest desire of the prisoners to be at liberty, which they apprehend might be done by your becoming responsible to General Prevost for an equal number. This is perfusly resonable on his part; because he can [2] not protect us in his present situation; & because he cannot supply us with provisions, Those which were left being nearly exhausted. If, however, you cannot effect our complete liberation, the second desire, is, to be prisoners at large in America.
I hope your Excellency will forgive the interuption we cause in the prosecution of important operations, in consideration of their condition

I have the honor to be Your Excellency's
most obedient servant,
Geo Walton,
Colonel, & Superior
GW. of the prisoner.

His Excellency,
To Major, Genl. Lincoln

[docket:]
Col Walton
Recd s[e]ptr.[24].17[79]

Order a CopyCitation Guidelines for Online Resources