Revolutionary War Continental Army Officer. William Washington's father, Bailey Washington of Stafford County, was the son of Henry and Mary Washington. Henry's father, John, was a brother of Lawrence Washington, who was George Washington's grandfather. He grew up with three brothers and two sisters on his family's 1200-acre Virginia plantation in Stafford County (their home is no longer standing today and was located within the boundaries of today's United States Marine Corps Base at Quantico). He was athletic, adept at fishing, swimming and hunting, and above all a superbly skilled horseman, and had acquired a proficiency in Greek and the Classics in addition to his theology studies while studying for the ministry on the eve of Revolutionary War. The 3rd Virginia Regiment formed in summer of 1775 at Fredericksburg under Hugh Mercer and George Weedon, and Washington was quickly elected a company captain. The 3rd Virginia marched to New York in August 1776 and fought at Harlem Heights (not Long Island). His gallantry and decisive action to prevent the Hessian artillery from forming during a critical stage of this decisive Battle of Trenton. In January 1777, William Washington was promoted to Major in the newly formed 4th Continental Light Dragoons, ranking behind Colonel Stephen Moylan and Lieutenant Colonel Anthony White. Although Weedon recommended him for an immediate Lieutenant Colonelcy. In 1777 to 1778, the 4th Dragoons served in the Brandywine, Germantown and Monmouth campaigns. After Baylor's 3rd Dragoons were decimated at Tappan in November 1778, General George Washington ordered Major William Washington to "contingently take command" of them. Congress then promoted himto Lieutenant Colonel of the 3rd Dragoons and told him to take full command of the regiment. In late 1779 the rebuilt 3rd was ordered to South Carolina. Washington and Lt. Colonel Banastre Tarleton frequently faced each other in cavalry skirmishes and full-fledged battles. Throughout March 1780 and into early April, the American cavalry continued thrust and parry operations against the British while maintaining a thin communications line into Charleston. On March 27, William Washington encountered Tarleton for the first time near Sandy Hill at Rantowle's, which was a few miles northeast of a bridge spanning a tributary of the Stono River. Lt. Colonel William Washington joined Brig. General Daniel Morgan's "light corps" in the western Carolinas in October and November 1780. Morgan detached Washington and his 100 dragoons to take them by surprise. Gambling on the inexperience of his opponent, Washington resorted to a ruse. While most of his dragoons dismounted and surrounded the barn on December 4, 1780, he directed some men in fashioning a mock cannon from a pine log and mounting it on a carriage out of view of the enemy. He brought it into sight of the barn with great fanfare as if to fire this "Quaker gun" and summoned the defenders to surrender or risk being blown to pieces. The deception worked, and according to a participant, the fake cannon "had the same effect as if it was the best piece in Christendom," convincing the Tories to give up without firing a shot. At the Battle of Cowpens on January 17, 1781, Washington was able to bring superior numbers to bear at critical points on the narrow battlefield where he could outnumber the British. At the Battle of Guilford Courthouse, North Carolina on March 15, 1781, Lt. Colonel William Washington charged the British Guards after earlier covering the Patriot right wing throughout the battle. At the Battle of Hobkirk's Hill on April 25, 1781, Washington made too wide of a circuit to help. At the Battle of Eutaw Springs, South Carolina on September 8, 1781, Washington galloped through the woods around the American left late in the battle and led his troopers in an unsupported frontal charge against an excellent British defensive position Washington was taken a prisoner, and his men mingled in confusion with the enemy. While a prisoner in Charleston, South Caroina, William Washington became reacquainted with rice heiress Jane Elliott whose father died at Sandy Hill on the same day as the Battle of Cowpens. The couple found the wherewithal in the enemy-occupied city to get married on April 21, 1782.In contrast to his six years as a soldier, William Washington was content to enjoy thirty years after the war as a South Carolina planter in the affluent, peaceful pursuit of agriculture. The extensive real estate holdings brought to the marriage by Jane were all near the Elliott family mansion at Sandy Hill (12,000 acres; no longer standing). The couple had two children, Jane and William, Jr. Although an active member of the South Carolina General Assembly for 17 years, William was not overly ambitious for a political career and refused offers to run for governor of his adopted state. France and the United States became embroiled in a brief undeclared war in 1798, and President John Adams appointed William Washington a Brigadier General under General George Washington. They tried to erect a monument in memory of William and Jane, but when unable to place it at the couple's gravesite, they selected Magnolia Cemetery and held an elaborate ceremony in 1858.
Bio by: K M
Jane Riley Elliot Washington