George Washington Papers

From George Washington to Major Benjamin Tallmadge, 27 June 1779

To Major Benjamin Tallmadge

New Windsor June 27th 1779.


I observe what you say respecting your position at Bedford—and the fatigue of the horse1—with regard to the first, when Bedford was pointed out, it was descriptive only of a central place between the two rivers, and as near the enemy as you could with military prudence take post for the purpose of covering the inhabitants, & preventing the ravages of small parties.2 The judgment of the Officer commanding, is, under the idea just expressed, to direct the particu⟨lar⟩ spot & choice of ground which ought to ⟨be⟩ varied continually, while you are near enough the enemy to give assistance to the people—With respect to the second matter I have only to add that I do not wish to have the horse unnecessarily exposed, or fatigued, but if in the discharge of accustomed duties they should get worn down, there is no help for it. Col. Moylans regiment is on its march to join you, which will render the duty easier and Yr Troops there more respectable.3

The inclosed contains matter for own knowledge only.4 I am Sir Yr Mo. Obedient servt

Go: Washington

LS, in Richard Kidder Meade’s writing, MiU-C: Clinton Papers; ADfS, DLC:GW; Varick transcript, DLC:GW. GW’s draft manuscript runs together both of GW’s letters to Tallmadge of this date, suggesting that GW initially considered sending one letter before deciding to send two. The Varick transcript is based on GW’s draft manuscript. Text supplied in angle brackets is taken from GW’s autograph draft. GW signed the cover of the LS.

1GW is replying to a letter of 26 June from Tallmadge to him that has not been found (see GW’s first letter to Tallmadge of this date). Tallmadge described its contents in a letter of this date to his immediate commander, Maj. Gen. William Heath, addressed “Poundridge near Bedford,” N.Y., reading in part: “In a letter to his Excellency Genl Washington yesterday, I gave him my opinion of our Situation, which I look upon to be very insecure. Bedford is an open Country, with many Roads leading to it, too many for the whole of our Detachment to occupy, much less defend. The Enemy have 6 or 700 Horse with a considerable Body of Infantry within a few hours march of us & to my certain knowledge make it a Capital Object to surprise us. For this purpose they have moved more than once, & changing my post frequently at different hours of the night has defeated their plan. We are now on pretty Strong Ground, (having left Bedford yesterday) a little in the rear of Bedford, with Guards advanced quite to the Town. As my Detachmt cannot be tho’t sufficient to defend that post when the Enemy may chuse to bring their force against it, I should think myself very criminal to continue at Bedford; unless we moved every Night at late hours” (MHi: Heath Papers).

2For Heath’s selection of Bedford as the position for Col. Elisha Sheldon’s dragoon regiment, which Tallmadge commanded temporarily, see Heath’s letter to Sheldon of 26 June, quoted at Heath to GW, that date, source note.

3For GW’s formal orders for this movement, see GW to Stephen Moylan, 28 June; see also GW to George Clinton, 27 June.

4This enclosure has not been identified.

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