Skip to main content

“His excellency – the General & Mrs[.] Washington amidst flattering public prospects have Received the most fatal blow to their Domestic felicity – the amiable Mr[.] Custis, Mrs[.] Washington’s only child has just been obliged by the rigid hand of fate to pay his last Debt to nature – his patriotism led him to camp to participate above degree of [ ] of his amiable & illustrious father, where he contracted the [buds or seeds?] of his disease which in a night or two terminated his life, at Colonel Bassetts [sic] Mrs[.] Wahington’s Brother in law about 30 miles distant from Wmsburg.- Mrs[.] Washington & Mrs[.] Custis and the General were present at his last Gasp – It is only for an affectionate parent to form a totally adequate idea of [this family’s most afflicted?] state.”

Henry Knox (future Secretary of War) and Clement Biddle were Continental Army officers in 1781, and both were close to General Washington. This letter informs Biddle of the death of Jacky Custis, Martha Washington’s lone remaining child, from an illness.