George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Brigadier General Casimir Pulaski, 4 December 1777

From Brigadier General Casimir Pulaski

Dec. 4. [1777] 6 oclock P.M.


I made a report to your Excellency immediately on receiving intellegence of Mr Zulinski’s affair.1 The same dragoon who was witness to what happened I sent with my Report, with respect to Mr Zulinski’s behaviour on the occasion. It was not as Mr Moylan has represented. The encounter was accidental. Neither had Mr Zulinski any other design than to retaliate on Col. Moylan in the same manner that Col. M. had treated him, by striking him Col. Moylan once or twice with a staff, without offering to draw his sword or use any other arms. The Dragoon whom I have sent to your Excellency will confirm the same.2 Mr Zulinski having not yet returned to my quarters I cannot execute Your Excellency’s order.3 With Great respect, I am Yr Excellency’s humble Servt

C. Pulaski

Sprague transcript, DLC:GW.

1No written report from Pulaski on this subject has been identified.

2Pulaski enclosed with his letter to GW of 10 Feb. 1778 the following undated testimony of Alexandre-François, chevalier de Baillivy, attested by three officers of the Continental dragoons, Cuthbert Harrison, Alexander Dandridge, and John Henderson, of what apparently had taken place between John de Zielinski and Stephen Moylan: “Gentn Captn Baillivy being duely Sworn, Sayeth that being at Genl Pulaskis Quarters (to the best of his Knowledge) on the 4th December Last on a visit to the aforeSaid general towards evening took his Leave of the Sd Genl & was accompanied per Mister Zielinski, this deponent & Said Zielinski were both on horseback. that being Come within half a mile of Head Quarters this deponent & Said Zielinski met Colonel Moylan whereupon Some words passed between S’d Zielinski & Colonel Moylan, that Colonel Moylan Said he did not understand french, Said Zielinski then Said he would Teach him Said Colonel Moylan to Speak french loosening his Cloak at the Same time, Sd Zielinski then rode up to me & deliver’d me his lance & taking a Stick in his hand turnd towards Colonel Moylan & Struck him Twice which Colonel Moylan attempted to fend with his Arms, Said Zielinski then retird a Smal Distance at this time he, the deponent, believes Colonel Moylan had his Sword Drawn in his hand—that Sd Zielinski then took the Lance from me & Struck Colonel Moylan over the Shoulder with the flat part of the Spear the Stroak did not appear to be very Violent, but Colonel Moylan on being Struck with the Lance fell from his Horse, at this time Said Zielinski put Spur to his Horse & rode off that Colonel Moylan remounted his Horse & orderd a Nathan Fentin a Dragoon that attended Said Zielinski to Stop & Confine Said Zielinski but that Said Dr⟨ago⟩on & this deponent then return’d to Genl Pulaskis Quarters” (DLC:GW). For an earlier altercation between Moylan and Zielinski, see General Orders, 31 Oct. 1777, and note 1. Baillivy, who had been a musketeer of the French king before coming to America, served as an ensign in Col. Timothy Bigelow’s 15th Massachusetts Regiment from January 1777 to January 1778 and was commissioned a captain in Pulaski’s Legion in 1778. Nathan Fenton was a private in the 2d Continental Light Dragoons.

3No written orders from GW to Pulaski have been found.

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