George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Colonel Theunis Dey, 22 April 1777

From Colonel Theunis Dey

Bloomsbury [N.J.] April 22nd 1777.


Yesterday I had part of our regiment together and they turned out 46 men as volunteers for a scouting party for 1 month and several more are expected to enlist very soon. those that turned out, did immediately proceed to choose their officers, viz. Mr Peter R. Fell for their Capt. & Joste Zabriskie for their 1st Lieut., John Van Allen 2nd Lieut. and James S. Bogart Ensign.1 their choosing so many Officers is in expectation of their company full in a few days. they are desirous your Excellency will commission them, or as many of them as you shall think proper. They are also desirous of having a few light horse allowed the company to act in conjunction with them, as in several instances there will be more speed required than foot can make. Mr Fell the bearer can explain to you the necessity of having them. these Sir from your most obedient & humble servant

Theunis Dey Colo.

Copy, DLC:GW.

GW’s aide-de-camp Richard Kidder Meade replied to Dey on 23 April: “His Excellency rec’d your favor by Mr Full and order’d me to communicate to you his approbation of the enlistments you mention—at the same time expects that you will attend to a late resolve of Congress respecting the proportion of Officers & Men as you may observe below.

“As to the Horse men whom you think necessary, the Genl does not object, and what Number you may employ will be paid at the same rate of others of the sort that have been in service, with an expectation that they will be kept strictly to their Duty, and not receive what they do not earn.” The appended ratios of officers to men read: “A Compy from 36 to 50–2 Comd Officers[;] A Do from 50 to 60–3 do[;] A Do 68 & more—4 do” (DLC:GW).

Theunis Dey (1726–1787) of Preakness, N.J., was colonel of the Bergen County regiment of militia from 1775 to 1780. Dey served as a member of the New Jersey provincial assembly from 1761 to 1776 and the general assembly in 1776 and from 1779 to 1781.

1Peter Renaudet Fell (1754–1791) of Paramus, N.J., became brigade major for Brig. Gen. George Clinton later this year and, on Clinton’s recommendation, was appointed in March 1778 as major of a New York state regiment that was raised for one year to patrol the area along the border between New York and New Jersey. Fell also held the rank of lieutenant colonel in the Bergen County militia from March 1778 to October 1779, when he resigned his commission. He subsequently moved to Ulster County, New York. Joost (Yost) Zabriskie (d. 1778) became captain of a company of rangers in Bergen County by 1778, and he was killed by Loyalists in June of that year while impressing wagons for the use of the American army. John Van Allen (died c.1789), a blacksmith in Bergen County, was wounded in May 1781 during a skirmish with Loyalists at Fort Lee, New Jersey.

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