George Washington Papers

General Orders, 25 August 1777

General Orders

Head Quarters, Wilmington [Del.]1 August 25th 1777.

Parole: Countersign:

At a General Court Martial held the 23rd instant whereof Lieut. Col. White was president. Capt. Henry Lee, of Col. Blands regiment of light horse; charged with “Disobedience of orders”—was tried—The sentence of the court is as follows. viz. “The Court having fully considered the charge and evidence are unanimously of opinion, that Capt. Henry Lee is not guilty of the charge exhibited against him, and do acquit him with honor—And they are also unanimously of opinion, that the charge against Capt. Lee is groundless and vexatious, and that Capt. Lee, in what he did, acted merely for the good of his troop”—The Commander in Chief approves of Capt. Lee’s acquital with honor.2

The whole body horse are to parade at Head Quartrs to morrow morning precisely at five o’clock—Each officer and man to bring with him one day’s provision cooked.

Varick transcript, DLC:GW.

1GW breakfasted this morning at Chester, Pa. (vouchers and receipted accounts, 1776–80, DLC:GW, ser. 5, vol. 29). At Wilmington he occupied a house at 303 West Street above Third Street where he maintained his headquarters until 6 September.

2Henry “Light Horse Harry” Lee (1756–1818), whose father, Henry Lee (1729–1787), was well acquainted with GW, grew up at Leesylvania in Prince William County, Va., about fifteen miles southwest of Mount Vernon. After graduating from Princeton in 1773, Lee intended to study law in England, but the coming of the Revolutionary War caused him to change his plans. Lee became captain of a troop of Virginia cavalry in June 1776, and in February 1777 he and his men joined Washington’s army in New Jersey. During the following months Lee’s troop often operated as a detached unit on scouting and foraging expeditions. GW came to rate Lee’s abilities highly, and at his urging Congress in April 1778 promoted Lee to major and gave him command of an independent corps consisting of two troops of horse. Augmented with a third troop of horse in May 1778 and a troop of infantry in July 1779, Lee’s Partisan Corps, as it became known, made a daring raid on the British outpost at Paulus Hook, N.J., in August 1779, an action for which Congress awarded Lee a gold medal. Lee’s corps was expanded again in February 1780 by the addition of two more troops of infantry, and it subsequently was called Lee’s Legionary Corps. Promoted to lieutenant colonel in November 1780, Lee further distinguished himself under Nathanael Greene in the southern campaign of 1781 before leaving the army in February 1782. Lee served in the Continental Congress from 1785 to 1788. He was governor of Virginia 1791–94, and he was a Federalist member of the U.S. Congress 1799–1801. A failure in business, Lee spent the last years of his life in poverty and ill health.

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