George Washington Papers
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From George Washington to Major Henry Lee, Jr., 30 January 1780

To Major Henry Lee, Jr.

Hd Qrs Morristown 30th Jany 1780

Dr Sir

I have received your favor of the 26th incloseing one from Capn McLane to you of th[e] 15th.

However Capn McLanes services may entitle him to consideration yet he is neither singular in his sacrifices nor situation. There are numbers in the line, who have been as long Captains—and without promotion as himself. This is one of those circumstances incidental to all services. But with regard to his request—the formation of new corps rests by no means with me, nor if it did—I could not recommend the proposal to Congress at a time when the seperate corps now in service experience so many inconveniences, and are supposed too numerous. Capn McLane however may be assured that my opinion of his military merits would induce me to do every thing in his favor consistent with propriety.1 I wish you an agreeable winter, and am Dr Sir.

Df, in James McHenry’s writing, DLC:GW; Varick transcript, DLC:GW.

1Despite GW’s negative on this request for the expansion of the infantry of Lee’s Partisan Corps from one to three companies, the Board of War, after consulting Major General Steuben, who was in Philadelphia to confer with them, soon recommended the expansion to Congress. On 12 Feb., the board reported to Congress: “The Baron Steuben having certified to the Board that in his judgement an augmentation of the Infantry of Major Lee’s Corps will enable the major to operate in the line of duty prescribed to him with more safety and effect; and that as the Corps is already formed on the legionary plan, it is essential to its perfection, that the number of infantry be at least equal to that of the cavalry; a system on which it would in the opinion of the Board be proper to form all the cavalry in the service of the United States, and it being alledged that men can be easily procured to serve in the Corps, and which being a Corps out of the line will not affect the arrangement thereof Agreed That recruiting money be furnished Major Lee to enable him to enlist seventy privates to serve as dismounted dragoons in addition to those now in the Corps, the whole to be formed into three troops” (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 16:159).

Congress at first ordered that the report be referred to GW, but two days later, on the motion of Thomas McKean of Delaware and James Searle of Pennsylvania, reconsidered the report and directed the recruiting of the new infantry companies without seeking GW’s opinion (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 16:159, 164). GW, however, had already signaled his approbation of the expansion of the Partisan Corps, as long as Congress acted without his recommendation (see GW to Anthony Wayne, 8 May 1779, and Wayne to GW, 16 April 1779). In April 1780, when the board informed GW of its action, he raised no objection to the expansion but continued to oppose the creation of new field officers for the corps (see the Board of War to GW, 3 April, and GW to the Board of War, 9 April, both in DLC:GW).

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