George Washington Papers

From George Washington to Colonel Stephen Moylan, 11 April 1778

To Colonel Stephen Moylan

Head Quarters Valley Forge 11th April 1778

Dear Sir

I have your favr of the 6th Yours to Colo. Hamilton a few days before came also to hand.1 Your Return of the Cavalry is really vexatious, but what can be expected when Officers prefer their own ease and emolument to the good of their Country or to the care and attention which they are in duty bound to pay to the particular Corps they command. In every service but ours, the Winter is spent in endeavouring to make preparation for the ensuing Campaign.

I desire you will make strict enquiry into the conduct of every Officer present and find out whether those absent have gone upon furlough regularly obtained: And if it appears that they have been negligent in point of duty or are absent without leave, arrest and have them brought to trial; for I am determined to make examples of those to whom this shameful neglect of the Cavalry has been owing. If there has been any deficiency on the part of the Commy of Forage, let the commanding Officer of Sheldons make it appear in his own justification.2 I have given Lieut. Craig an order for the few Horse accoutrements that are in the hands of the Commy of Stores.3 I am sorry that this Gentleman has lost his Rank because you did not take care to procure him the Commission of eldest Lieut. I certainly cannot interfere in this instance and give a preference to intentional Rank. You must remember that it was not allowed to bear any weight in settling the Rank of the Colonels of Horse.4 Mr Craig however says that he for some time did duty as eldest Lieut. and that the Rank never was disputed untill the Commissions were issued, and that then, those Officers who found their Commissions of older date claimed rank accordingly. I have no objection to having the matter laid before a Board of Feild Officers of the Horse when a sufficient number are together, and let them examine Mr Craig’s pretentions and hear what the other officers have to alledge against them.

Capt. Jones and Lieut. Page have not been in Camp to my knowledge.5 I am &ca.

Df, in Tench Tilghman’s writing, DLC:GW; Varick transcript, DLC:GW.

1Moylan’s letter to GW has not been found, but GW summarized a portion of its contents to Maj. Benjamin Tallmadge, on 13 May (see GW to Tallmadge, 14 April, n.1). Moylan’s letter to Alexander Hamilton has not been identified, but it may have answered Hamilton’s letter to Moyland of 29 Mar., which reads:: “It is His Excellency’s desire that you immediately send to camp a good active vigilant officer with twenty horse. Let both horses and men be picked, as the service they are intended for will require able horses and trusty men who will not desert. They are wanted to relieve Capt. Lee, and perform the duties his party did. Be pleased to have it done without delay” (PHi: Gratz Collection).

2Col. Elisha Sheldon had left his regiment in mid-January to purchases horses and accoutrements in New York and New England, and his major, Tallmadge, was commanding the regiment in his absence. According to GW’s later summary of Moylan’s charges, the officers of Sheldon’s regiment blamed “Mr Caldwell, who acted as a Commissary of Forage,” for the poor condition of their horses. The reference was probably to James Caldwell, assistant deputy quartermaster at Springfield, New Jersey. In a “Return of Persons employ’d in the Forage department at the Magazines under my Direction & with the Army,” 30 Jan. 1778, Foragemaster General Clement Biddle noted that Caldwell had “collected a Quantity of hay at Chatham in Jersey,” where Sheldon’s regiment was stationed (DNA:PCC, item 192).

3The order given to dragoon Lt. John Craig has not been identified.

4In November 1777 a board of general officers had determined the ranks of dragoon field officers in accordance with a congressional resolution of 6 Nov. 1777 and GW’s general orders of 19 and 22 Nov. 1777. The report of the arrangement by Maj. Gen. John Sullivan did not state the principles underlying the board’s decisions (see Sullivan to GW, 24 Nov. 1777).

5There were three dragoon captains named Jones at this time: Cadwallader and Churchill (commissioned a captain in June 1777) of the 3d Regiment and Llewelyn of the 1st Regiment. Lt. Carter Page was in the 3d Regiment.

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