George Washington Papers

From George Washington to Colonel George Baylor, 9 January 1777

To Colonel George Baylor

Morris Town Jany 9th 1777.

Dear Baylor.

Your Letter of the 1st from Baltimore came to my hands this day; Your desires of commanding a Regt of Horse I chearfully yield to, because it is the Recommendation of Congress—your own wish—and my desire.1

As nothing contributes so much to the Constitution of a good Regiment, as a good Corps of Officers, and no method so likely to obtain these as leaveing the choice, in a great measure, to the Gentleman who is to reap the Honours, or share the disgrace ariseing from their Behaviour, I shall vest you with the power of Nominating the Officers of your own Regiment—except the Field Officers, and those of the Troop commanded by Geo: Lewis, which I shall annex to your Regiment (instead of Sheldons) and except a Lieutenancy in some Troop for little Stark,2 when I talk of giveing you the Nomination of the Officers, I would have it understood, that, I reserve to myself a negative upon a part or the whole, if I have reason to suspect an improper choice.

I earnestly recommend to you, to be circumspect in your choice of Officers—take none but Gentlemen—let no local attachments influence you—do not suffer your good nature (when an application is made) to say Yes, when you ought to say No—remember, that it is a public—not a private Cause, that is to be injured, or benefited by your choice—recollect also, that no Instance has yet happened of good, or bad behaviour in any Corps in our Service, that has not originated with the Officers. Do not take old Men, nor yet fill your Corps with Boys—especially for Captains—Colo. Landon Carter sometime ago recommended a Grandson of his to me—if he still inclines to serve, & a Lieutenancy would satisfy him, make him the offer of it.3

I have wrote to a Major Clough to accept the Majority of your Regiment, he is an experienced Officer in the Horse service, and a Gentleman like Man, as far as I have seen of him.4 The Lieut. Colo. I have not yet absolutely fixed on, tho I have a person in my Eye.

For further Instructions I refer you to Mr Harrisson—who will furnish you with a Copy of those given to Colo. Sheldon—One Hundred and twenty Dollars will be allowed You as the Average price of the Horses; the Money for these, and your accoutraments you must call upon Congress for;5 & I have to entreat that you will not delay a moment that can be avoided, in prepareing to take the Field early—You must be upon your Mettle, for others are engaged in the same service & will exert themselves to the utmost to out do you. I can say nothing respecting your uniform, as that will depend upon the Cloth to be had. Mr James Mease of Philadelphia is appointed Clothier General to the Army, & to him you must apply for this Article—where you will be able to get proper Saddles I know not; if Maryland and Virginia, together with Lancaster & York, could furnish You, perhaps it would be better than to depend upon Philadelphia, as it is likely there may be a run upon that City for more than it can furnish in a short time; let me hear frequently from You. I am Very Sincerely Yours

Go: Washington

LS, in Samuel Blachley Webb’s writing, PWacD; ADfS, DLC:GW; Varick transcript, DLC:GW. GW addressed the cover of the LS: “To George Baylor Esqr.—Colonel of a Regiment of Horse to be raised in Virginia.” Numerous facsimiles of GW’s draft exist.

1Baylor’s letter to GW has not been found. For Congress’s resolution of 1 Jan. giving Baylor command of the newly created 3d Continental Dragoons, 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 , 7:7.

2William A. Starke (1759–1777) of Dinwiddie County, Va., who apparently received a commission as a lieutenant in the 6th Virginia Regiment on 9 April 1776, served as an aide-de-camp to Lord Stirling before becoming a lieutenant in the 3d Continental Dragoons (see Purdie’s Virginia Gazette [Williamsburg], 21 Feb. 1777). Starke died of smallpox on 13 Feb. 1777 after being sent to Virginia to assist in recruiting the regiment of horse (see Baylor to GW, 7 Feb., and Dixon and Hunter’s Virginia Gazette [Williamsburg], 14 Mar. 1777).

3For Carter’s efforts to have his grandson and namesake placed in the Continental line, see Carter to GW, 31 Oct.-2 Nov. 1776 (see also Carter to GW, 20 Feb. 1776, n.1, and Greene, Landon Carter Diary description begins Jack P. Greene, ed. The Diary of Colonel Landon Carter of Sabine Hall, 1752–1778. 2 vols. Charlottesville, Va., 1965. description ends , 2:985–86). Baylor’s offer to the younger Carter of a lieutenancy was not accepted, however (see Carter to GW, 22 Feb. 1777, and ibid., 1082).

4On 10 Jan. GW instructed Robert Hanson Harrison to forward GW’s letter to Maj. Alexander Clough, which has not been found. Alexander Clough (d. 1778) served as a lieutenant and adjutant in the 1st New Jersey Regiment from December 1775 until GW offered him this majority. GW commended Clough for bravery in a skirmish with the British light horse at Bordertown, N.J., during early May 1778 (see Stephen Moylan to GW, 5, 7–9 May 1778, in DLC:GW, and GW to Moylan, 13 May 1778, LS, PHi: Gratz Collection). In late September 1778 Clough was wounded by the British in a surprise attack on the 3d Continental Dragoons’ quarters at Harrington, N.Y., and he was taken prisoner to Orange, N.Y., where he soon died (see GW to Horatio Gates, 30 Sept. 1778, LS, NHi: Gates Papers, GW to William Woodford, 30 Sept. 1778, DF, DLC:GW, GW to John Sullivan, 1 Oct. 1778, Df, DLC:GW, and GW to Henry Laurens, 3 Oct. 1778, copy, DNA:PCC, item 152).

5For the instructions issued to Col. Elisha Sheldon of the 2d Continental Dragoons, see GW’s orders to Sheldon, 16 Dec. 1776. Congress resolved on 23 Jan. 1777 to advance $41,640 to Baylor “for the purpose of purchasing horses and paying the bounty of men for the regiment of cavalry he is ordered to raise, and that the same be paid to Major A. Clough, and charged to the account of Colonel Baylor” (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 , 7:58).

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