The American Revolution Revolutionary War William Washington

William Washington

William Washington (February 28, 1752 – March 6, 1810) was a cavalry officer of the Virginia militia and Continental Army during the American Revolutionary War.  He served on General George Washington’s staff during the naval war with France in 1798 and held the final rank of brigadier general. Primarily known as a commander of light dragoons, he led mounted troops in several notable battles in the Carolinas during the campaigns of 1780 and 1781. Following the conflict, William moved to South Carolina, where he married and served in the state legislature as well as led the Seventh Brigade of the South Carolina militia. Cavalry Commander William Washington of Stafford County and South Carolina has often been confused with his distant cousin William Augustine Washington, also a Revolutionary War patriot and planter, who served as a delegate representing Westmoreland County, Virginia.

William was born in Stafford County, Virginia, the second son of Bailey Washington and Catherine (née Storke) Washington. Correspondence between William and George Washington indicates William and George were second cousins once removed. William received an education appropriate to his Southern planter class, including tutoring from Reverend Dr. William Stuart, a Virginia clergyman. William learned the Greek language and may have studied theology for a potential career in the church.

In 1775, he established a local Stafford County militia company and soon abandoned his studies to take up arms against the British government during the Revolutionary War. William and his elder brother, Henry, reputedly drew straws to see who would join the Continental Army and who would stay home to manage the family plantations. William served in the Continental Army.