George Washington Papers

From George Washington to Major Benjamin Tallmadge, 14 April 1778

To Major Benjamin Tallmadge

Valley-forge April 14th 1778.


I scarce know which is greatest, my astonishment or vexation, at hearing of the present low Condition of your horse1—To have them in good order against the period, wch is now just at hand, you were exempted from the fatiegues of a Winter Campaign, & permitted to retire to the best quarters the Country afforded for the express purpose of recruiting them. I depriv’d myself of the advantages of their Services, which were essential both for the security of my Camp, & stopping the intercours with the City—but for what purpose did I do this? Why to furnish the Officers & Men it seems with oppertunities of galloping about the Country and by neglect of the Horses reducing them to a worse condition than those which have been kept upon constant & severe duty the whole Winter—How you can reconcile this conduct to your feelings as an officer, and answer it to your Country I know not.2 I am Sir &ca

G. W——n

ADfS, DLC:GW; Varick transcript, DLC:GW. The draft is docketed, “To the commg officer Colo. Sheldons Regt”; Maj. Benjamin Tallmadge was in temporary command of the regiment from mid-January to early May while Col. Elisha Sheldon was in New York and New England seeking horses and accoutrements for the regiment.

1Col. Stephen Moylan’s letter reporting the poor condition of Sheldon’s regiment has not been found (see GW to Moylan, 11 April), but GW later paraphrased the relevant passage in a letter to Tallmadge of 13 May: “That the second Regiment had been most cruelly dealt with. Of 54 horses which he had seen paraded, that he did not think Ten could be selected fit to go on any duty. That they had been really starved during the winter and the blame thrown from the Officers on Mr Caldwell, who acted as a Commissary of Forage; but that the true reason of their being in such condition, according to his belief, was that few or none of the officers had been with the Regiment” (NNFTM). GW had received a more general report of problems with the cavalry stationed in New Jersey from William Livingston in a letter of 9 April.

2Tallmadge defended his conduct in a letter to GW of 4 May.

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