George Washington Papers

From George Washington to Henry Laurens, 3 April 1778

To Henry Laurens

Head Quarters Valley Forge 3d April 1778


Captain Lee of the light Dragoons and the Officers under his command having uniformly distinguished themselves by a conduct of exemplary zeal, prudence and bravery, I took occasion on a late signal instance of it to express the high sense I entertained of their merit, and to assure him that it should not fail of being properly noticed.1 I was induced to give this assurance, from a conviction, that it is the wish of Congress to give every encouragement to merit, and that they would chearfully embrace so favorable an opportunity of manifesting this disposition. I had it in contemplation at the time, in case no other method, more eligible, could be adopted to make him an offer of a place in my family. I have consulted the Committee of Congress upon the Subject, and we were mutually of opinion, that the giving Capt. Lee the command of two troops of Horse on the proposed establishment, with the Rank of Major, to act as an independant partisan Corps, would be a mode of rewarding him very advantageous to the Service. Capt. Lees genius peculiarly adapts him to a command of this nature—and it will be most agreeable to him, of any station, in which he could be placed.2

I beg leave to recommend this measure to Congress and shall be obliged by their decision as speedily as may be convenient. The Campaign is fast approaching, and there will probably be very little time to raise and prepare the Corps for it. It is a part of the plan to give Mr Lindsay the command of the second Troop, and to make Mr Peyton Capt. Lieutenant of the first. I am with the highest Esteem and Respect Sir Your most obt Servt

Go: Washington

LS, in Tench Tilghman’s writing, DNA:PCC, item 152; Df, DLC:GW; copy, DNA:PCC, item 169; Varick transcript, DLC:GW. The cover of the LS is docketed in part, “read 7. respecting cap. Lee” (see JCC description begins Worthington Chauncey Ford et al., eds. Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774-1789. 34 vols. Washington, D.C., 1904–37. description ends , 10:314).

2Joseph Reed had written to GW’s aide Robert Hanson Harrison on 30 Mar.: “In Consideration of Capt. Lee’s Merit & Services as well as those of the Officers of his Troop the Committee had it in Contemplation to promote him to the Rank of Major to give him the Command of a separate Corps consisting of two Troops upon the new Establishment one Captain, one Capt. Lieutenant—3 Lieutenants 2 Cornets. Mr Lindsey to be Captain of the 2d Troop & Mr Peytn Capt: Lieutenant of the 1st—the new Officers nominated by the General. This was our Idea which we designed to have suggested to his Excelly & which if he approves we shall recommend to Congress—but as yet, it is only thought of” (DLC:GW). Congress passed a resolution to that effect on 7 April (see Henry Laurens to GW, 8–9 April, and note 2).

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