You will receive this Letter by my Son George who accompanys your Lady, the Winter is so far advanced that I am fearfull she will have a very disagreeable Journey but I expect she will meet with every assistance. . . .That letter closed with the news that George’s brother Charles, younger by three years, had died eight days before “of an Inflamitary Fever after a short illness.”
George is very desireous of remaining with you as long as you stay with the Army, this I have no objection against provided he can have some little part that will bear his expences, I am in hopes your will find him diligent in whatever duty is required of him…
So Gen. Washington, in the middle of the siege of Boston, was asked to find some paying work for his eighteen-year-old nephew. Young George was apparently skilled as a horseman, which might have been useful along the road from Virginia to Cambridge, but he could not have been experienced in business or travel. As I noted yesterday, he made so little impression in Philadelphia that the newspapers misidentified him.
George Lewis almost certainly lived in the John Vassall house after he arrived at Cambridge in December 1775. Over the next three months, he may have helped with administrative tasks at that headquarters. The latest editors of Gen. Washington’s papers suggest that Lewis wrote a 19 Feb 1776 letter to Christopher French, a captured British officer who sent the commander a ceaseless stream of complaints about his detention; apparently the unsigned copy on file is not in the handwriting of any known aides.
In March 1776, Lewis was commissioned as a lieutenant in the commander-in-chief’s guard. This unit was created to guard the headquarters papers and equipment. He served in that capacity until December, and then became a captain in the 2nd Continental Dragoons, seeing action in 1777.
Capt. Lewis spent a lot of 1778 away from his regiment. The general wrote him a chiding letter on 13 Feb 1779, so he resigned his commission and went home to Virginia to stay. George Lewis had evidently lost the desire to serve with his uncle “as long as you stay with the Army.”
(The thumbnail photo above shows Lewis’s gravestone, courtesy of waymarking.com which gives his full name as George Washington Lewis.)