George Washington Papers

From George Washington to Major Henry Lee, Jr., 30 June 1779

To Major Henry Lee, Jr.

New Windsor June 30th 1779


Yr favor dated 27th inst. was handed to me to day by Capt. McLane, inclosing your proposals for the incorporation of his company with your Corps1—The measure is desireable, & I should be happy were it in my power at once to authorise you to proceed on the business, but not being vested with sufficient powers to change the establishment of a Corps2—the plan must be referred to Congress In doing this no time shall be lost & I sincerely wish it may meet their approbation.3

When I ordered capt. McLane to join you,4 I had not an idea of the present plan, & only meant to afford you his aid with the few men of his company; sensible of the advantage to be derived from Horse, & Foot acting together.

Should the corps be established as you wish, you cannot entertain a thought of making new Officers, (the reasons are obvious) but must furnish them from yr own Corps, or from the supernumerary officers of the line now unimployed—they are numerous & no doubt many fit ones may be found.5

The dismounting Dragoons inlisted for that particular service is a delicate matter & I hope you have considered it well before hand & that you do not think of taking any, but such, whose inclinations may lead them to prefer the foot service. Yrs


Df, in Richard Kidder Meade’s writing, DLC:GW; Varick transcript, DLC:GW.

1This letter of 27 June from Lee to GW has not been found. Capt. Allen McLane wrote in his journal entry for 27 June that he “Set of[f] for Head Quarters” at 5:00 P.M. (NHi: McLane Papers). McLane’s journal entries for 28 and 29 June read: “arrivd at Adjt Gns. at dusk” and “Waited all day at Head Qua⟨r⟩t[er]s his Excelly Being Gon to the fort at night Retur[ne]d to the Adjt Gens.” (NHi: McLane Papers). In his journal entry for 30 June, McLane reported that he “Saw the Genl” (NHi: McLane Papers).

2GW inserted the previous six words in his own writing.

3Lee wrote John Jay, president of Congress, in a letter of 6 July: “I do myself the honor to transmit your Excellency the following quotation of a letr received from the Commander in chief, on the subject of the incorporation of Capt. McC[1]anes companies into the corps of cavalry undr my command. …

“Previous to this a letr from his Excellency enclosing the plan must probably have reached Congress. Least it may not, I take the liberty to mention that Capt. McClanes compa⟨nies &⟩ the dismounted dragoons ⟨mutilated⟩ form a fourth troop. They will amount to sixty rank & file, to be augmented occasionally, & to be officered as usual.

“I must request sir, you will be pleased to communicate this matter to Congress, & advise me as soon as may be, of the determination which may ensue. I have forwarded the necessary returns for arms & cloathing that should the annexation meet the approbation of Congress, no time may be lost in bringing the troops into the field” (DNA:PCC, item 78). The omitted portion of Lee’s letter quotes the first paragraph of GW’s letter to him of this date, presumably from the letter sent, which has not been found. For earlier correspondence related to the transfer of Capt. Allen McLane’s company to Lee’s command, see Lee to GW, 18 May, and GW to Lee, 9 June, and n.2 to that document; see also GW to Lee, 21 June.

Following a report from the Board of War, Congress passed a resolution on 13 July: “That Captain M’Lane’s company, now attached to the Delaware regiment, and the dismounted dragoons belonging to Major Lee’s partizan corps, be formed into a fourth troop and added to the corps: this troop to be commanded by Captain M’Lane, and to serve on foot: the numbers of which it is to consist, to be ascertained, and the rest of the officers thereof to be appointed by the Commander in Chief” (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 14:822–23). Jay reported this action to GW in a letter of 15 July, and he informed Lee in a letter of the same date (DNA:PCC, item 14).

4At this place on the draft manuscript, Meade wrote and then struck out a continuation of the sentence that reads: “my views were simply to aid you, with a small party of foot, & knowing his activity, expected he would be serviceable.”

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