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From George Washington to Samuel Huntington, 2 December 1779

To Samuel Huntington

Head Quarters Morris Town1 2d Decr 1779.

Sir

Since I had the honor of addressing you on the 20th ulto I have seen Lt Colonel Washington of Baylors Light Dragoons, who gives me a more favorable report of the times of service of that Regiment than was represented by one of his Officers. He informs me, that including Capt. Stiths Troop already on its march to the Southward he will be able to carry forward about 125 Men, none of whose times will expire before the middle of next year—many of them are engaged considerably longer.

Under these circumstances I should immediately have ordered him to proceed with the above mentioned to South Carolina; but there is still a difficulty in respect to Horses. Fifty five of those at present in the Regiment, tho’ fit for the draft and many other purposes in the Army, are represented by Colo. Washington as unable to perform so long a march on account of their weight and inactivity, they having been originally purchased for the Waggon and turned over to the Dragoon service thro’ necessity, after the Regiment had lost most of its Horses when surprized last year.2

I am informed by Colo. Laurens3 that a superiority of Cavalry to the southward will be productive of many good consequences, particularly those of giving immediate Checks to the insurrections of the disaffected, and securing the Country from the incursions of the Enemy’s Cavalry. Should Congress be of the same opinion, I would suggest to them the expediency of furnishing Colonel Washington with the means of purchasing a number of the proper kind of Horses equal to that of those returned unfit—I would beg leave to observe, that the public will in reality only incur the Expence of the difference between the price of Waggon and Dragoon Horses, as those returned unfit for the latter will be delivered to the Quarter Master General for the uses of his department.

The Regiment is now upon its march to Frederic town in Maryland, where, or at Winchester in Virginia, it may quarter this Winter, if it does not proceed to the southward. This will depend upon the determination of Congress in regard to the purchase of fresh Horses, as it would be scarce worth while to send the few who are properly mounted.4

Colo. Washington, who will have the honor of delivering this, will wait the decision of Congress and act accordingly.5 I have the honor to be with the greatest Respect Your Excellency’s 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. Congress read GW’s letter on 6 Dec. and authorized “Colonel Baylor’s regiment of dragoons, at present commanded by Lieutenant Colonel Washington,” to “proceed immediately to join Major General Lincoln” in South Carolina (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 15:1351; see also Huntington to GW, 7 Dec.).

1Lt. Rudolph Van Hoevenbergh, encamped at Rockaway Bridge, N.J., wrote in his journal for 1 Dec.: “His Excellency Washington Past by our Camp on his way to Morristown” (Sullivan Expedition Journals, description begins Frederick Cook, ed., and George S. Conover, comp. Journals of the Military Expedition of Major General John Sullivan against the Six Nations of Indians in 1779 With Records of Centennial Celebrations. Auburn, N.Y., 1887. description ends 283). Lt. Robert Parker wrote in his journal for the same date: “His Excellency arrived at Morristown to day; very severe storm of hail & snow all day” (“Parker Journal,” description begins “Journal of Lieutenant Robert Parker, of the Second Continental Artillery, 1779.” Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography 27 (1903): 404–20; 28 (1904): 12–25. description ends 28:23).

2For the decimation of the 3d Continental Dragoons at Old Tappan, N.J., on 28 Sept. 1778, see Israel Putnam to GW, that date, and n.1 to that document; see also Otho Holland Williams to GW, same date, and George Baylor to GW, 19 Oct. 1778, and n.1 to that document.

3Lt. Col. John Laurens returned to headquarters from the southern department in late November (see GW to Henry Laurens, 5 Nov., n.8).

4For the inability of Congress to purchase horses, and for the movement of Lt. Col. William Washington’s command southward, see GW to William Washington, 19 Nov., n.2.

5GW wrote Washington from Morristown on this date: “You will proceed to Philada and lay the letter with which you are charged before Congress—Should they determine to give you directions to purchase Horses to replace those returned unfit for Service—you are [to] march with all those Men whose times will not expire between this and April next to Charles town in South Carolina and upon your arrival there put yourself under the command of Major Genl Lincoln or Officer commanding the Southern Army. But should Congress determine it inexpedient for you to go to the southward, you are then to march with the Regiment to Frederick town in Maryland, or Winchester in Virginia (as you may find forage most plenty) and take quarters for the Winter.

“Should you go to the Southward, you will direct Capt. Stith, if he has not already proceeded, to join the Regiment and march with it.

“If any of the Men, whose times of service are within a few weeks of expiring, belong to the Eastern States, it will be best to discharge them immediately if they will not reinlist.

“You will let me hear from you in Philada when you shall receive such further orders as circumstances may require” (Df, in Tench Tilghman’s writing, DLC:GW; Varick transcript, DLC:GW).

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