Espy House, Bedford, PA

President Washington, General Henry Knox, Secretary of War, and General Alexander Hamilton, Secretary of Treasury and at one time Secretary of War reviewed the troops at Carlisle, Cumberland and the Bedford PA. The President arrived in Bedford on Otcober 19, 1794 being greeted as a conquering hero. The Federal Army, at that point about 7,850 strong, camped in the open field to the south and east of the town. The President made his headquarters in the home of Col. and Mrs. David Espy. This 1766 limestone structure was the largest house in town.

George Washington's address on October 20 1794 to General Lee at Bedford, PA as Washington was preparing to return to Philadelphia.

To Henry Lee Esq. Commander in Chief of the
Milita Army, on its march against the Insurgents
in certain Western Counties of Pennsylvania


Being about to return to the seat of Government, I cannot take my departure without conveying through you to the Army under your command the very high sense I entertain of the enlightened and patriotic zeal for the constitution and the laws which has led them so cheerfully to quit their families and homes and the comforts of private life to undertake and thus far to perform a long and fatiguing march and to encounter and endure the hardships and privations of a Military life. Their conduct hitherto affords a full assurance that their perseverance will be equal to their zeal and that they will continue to perform with alacrity - whatever the full accomplishment of the object of their march shall render necessary.

No citizens of the United States can ever be engaged in a service more important to the Country. It is nothing less than to consolidate and preserve the blessings of that Revolution which at much expense of blood and treasure constituted us a free and independent Nation. It is to give to the world an illustrious example, of the utmost consequence to the cause of mankind. I experience a heart-felt satisfaction in the conviction that the Conduct of the troops throughout will be in every respect answerable to the goodness of the cause and the magnitude of the stake.

There is but one point on which I think it proper to add a special recommendation. It is this, that every officer and soldier will constantly bear in mind that he comes to support the laws and that it would be peculiarly unbecoming in him to be in any way the infractor of them - that the essential principles of a free government confine the provinces of the Military to these two objects - Ist to combat and subdue all who may be found in arms in opposition to the National will and authority; 2nd to aid and support the civil Magistrate in bringing offenders to justice - The dispensation of this justice belongs to the civil Magistrate and let it ever be our pride and our glory to leave the sacred deposit there unviolated.

Convey to my fellow citizens in arms my warm acknowledgments for the readiness with which they have seconded me in the most delicate and momentous duty the chief Magistrate of a free people can have to perform and add my affectionate wishes for their health comfort and success - Could my further presence with them have been necessary or compatible with my civil duties at a period when the approaching commencement of a session of Congress particularly urges me to return to the seat of Government; it would not have been withheld. In leaving them I have the less regret, as I know I commit them to an able and faithful director; and that this director will be ably and faithfully seconded by all.

G. Washington

For further information about the Espy house contact:

The Espy House
Washington's Headquarters
P.O. Box 1794
Bedford, PA 15522

Main Menu
Back to the Whiskey Rebellion