George Washington Papers

From George Washington to Major Henry Lee, Jr., 20 August 1780

To Major Henry Lee, Jr.

Head Qrs Orange Town Augt 20th 1780

Dr Sir

This day Mr Joshua Anderson of Monmouth County presented a petition to me in consequence of Capt. Rudulph’s seizing a stone horse, which he urges was at any rate, unfit for present use1—His petition is supported by many well effected Inhabitants of that County who place him clearly in the character of a friend to his Country—Therefore as the seizure must have been made by the Capt., in consequence of my instructions to you,2 & they only directed that such horses & cattle as belonged to disaffected persons in the power of the Enemy were to be taken, & Mr Anderson lives about 20 miles from the Sea, & cannot be considered as coming within the instructions, I desire you will have the horse given up to him.3 I am &c.


Df, in Richard Kidder Meade’s writing, DLC:GW; copy, DLC:GW; Varick transcript, DLC:GW. Lee replied to GW on 22 August.

1A stone-horse is “An uncastrated or entire horse; a stallion” (OED description begins James A. H. Murray et al., eds. The Oxford English Dictionary: Being a Corrected Re-Issue with an Introduction, Supplement, and Bibliography of A New English Dictionary on Historical Principles. 12 vols. 1933. Reprint. Oxford, England, 1970. description ends ).

The undated petition from Joshua Anderson (c.1721–1810) to GW reads: “The Petition of Joshua Anderson an Inhabitant of the County of Monmouth, State of New Jersey in behalf of himself & Son, humbly shewith.

“That your Petitioner & Son in equal Partnership with one of their Neighbours were legally possessed of a very valuable blooded covering Horse three Years old in June last for which they ⟨illegible⟩ or are to pay eleven thousand Pounds Contl Currency or the Exchange in Specie at one for sixty, that on the third Day of this Inst. a certain Mr Heard an Officer in Majr Lee’s Core under the immediate Command of Capt. Rudolph came to the House of yr Petitioner when both he & his Son were absent & forceably took away sd Horse alledging to your Petitioners Wife that he had your Excellency’s Orders for so doing—Your Petitioner & Son have since applied to Capt. Rudolph for the Horse and upon remonstrating against the Proceedings he Capt. Rudolph swore he would cut yr Petitioners Sons Ears off if he said any Thing more about the Horse—It gives your Petitioner Pain to trouble your Excellency on such an Occasion, but your Petitioner humbly hopes your Excellency will excuse the Application when he considers his Petitioner as an aged Man with a Large Family that before the Enemy pass’d thro’ this County lived in easy Circumstances but at that Time by Reason of his Attachment to the Cause of his Country lost almost every Thing he had (Land excepted) which has reduced him to necessitous Circumstances.

“Your Petitioner would beg Leave further to inform your Excellency that the only Plea they have for detaining The Horse is that the Person who owns one half of him is disaffected & there is Danger ⟨illegible⟩ owning one half the Horse in Partnership with yr Petitioner & his going to the Enemy. how far the ⟨illegible⟩ & Son has given Reason for such Suspicions your Petitioner cannot determine, Your Petitioner believes such a Report & Suspicion of his Design of going to the Enemy &c. never prevailed in the neighbourhood until on this Occasion—but be that as it may the Law of the State has made Provision in such Cases for forfeited Property & your Petitioner would give ample Security that the publick meet with no Loss in Case the sd Person should forfeit his Property.

“Your Petitioner begs Leave to give it as his Opinion that the Horse is by no Means fit for the publick Service being a full blooded Horse but three Years old last June that has never been rode ten Miles from his Stable & that cost as much as would buy three or four abler Horses for Service than he is—Your Petitioner humbly hopes when your Excellency considers the Part that he & his Family have acted since the Commencement of this Contest (which is certifyed by a Number of the Officers & Reputable Inhabitants in the Neighbourhood & annexed to this Petition) when your Excellency considers the necessities of a large Family, your Petitioners Age, & that his Son is so frequently out in the Militia as to render but little Service at Home & that your Petitioner stands bound for the Money & that if the other Partner in the Horse should go to the Enemy yr Petitioner must pay the Money your Petitioner hopes these Circumstances considered together with the Horse’s being so young as to be unfit for Service & kept at such a Distance from the Enemies Lines as not to be in Danger of falling into their Hands all the Partners living some Miles West of Monmouth Courthouse that your Excellency will immediately issue Orders for the Horse to be returned to your Petitioner” (D, DLC:GW). The document is signed by Col. David Forman and twenty-four others, apparently the “Reputable Inhabitants in the Neighbourhood.” The following statement, dated at Freehold, N.J., on 6 Aug., follows the signatures: “We the Subscribers, Officers of the first Regt of Monmouth Militia being well acquainted with Mr Joshua Anderson & Family do hereby certify that he is a Man of reputable Charracter both as a Citizen as Inhabitant and as a Friend to his Country and that he and his Family have as far as we know & believe from the Beginning of the Contest espoused th⟨e⟩ C⟨ause of⟩ their Country & acted in an upright steady Manner therein—Witness our Hands.” The statement is signed by Col. Asher Holmes and twenty other officers.

Anderson’s son John Anderson (b. 1759) served as a private in the Monmouth County militia.

2For the instructions, see GW to Lee, 24 July.

3On 22 Aug., Capt. John Rudulph wrote to GW: “In obedience to orders from Major Lee in consequence your Excellencies Letr of the 20th Inst.

“I yesterday offer’d to Mr Anderzon a horse seiz’d from him for public service & at present in the 2d troop of cavalry. Mr Anderson refus’d accepting his horse as he was gelded, & insistd on 300£ specie. consicious that the original appraisment is his full value, I cou’d not consent to an act so injurious to justice and to the public.

“Mr Anderson left me to wait on the govenor, & pr⟨e⟩sume my reputation or purse must suffer for my zealous execution of my orders—When left by Major Lee to execute your Excellencies instructions in Monmouth. I accept’d of the command with reluctance & in the prosecution of the business act’d altogather by advice of Genl Furman. The horse in controversey is the joint property of a Mr Thompson & a Mr Anderson, son to the Old gentleman who wait’d on your Excellency. Mr Thompson is noted for his disaffection & has a brother a cornet in Genl Skinners Cavalry; & young Mr Anderson has been convict’d of illicit trade to N. York, & has never taken the oath of allegiance to the States. I conceiv’d their property the object of your Excellencies orde⟨r⟩s. Genl Furman was of the same Opinion & press’d me repeatedly to seize the horse. When he was taken it gave joy to every Whig I saw and spoke to, as it was generally p⟨r⟩esum’d that the horse would be convey’d to the Enemy after the covering Season was over for the use of cornet Thompson. In my certificate I gave full allowance for the horse, rather more than my judgment approv’d—during the whole of my transactions in the county, I conduct’d myself with the greatest Moderat⟨ion⟩ so much so, that I by no means seized for the public One fourth of what was point’d out to me by Genl Furman—I do not mean by this to asperse Genl Furman, for I possess the highest opinion of his virtue & public spirit, I only wish to explain to your Excellency the humanity of my conduct. On Mr Andesons return to Monmouth he will no doubt publish your Excellencies decision in his behalf which will operate much to my prejudice. I feel very unhappy when I find my conduct expos⟨ed⟩ to the insults of the interest’d & ignorant by an order which never wuld have taken place, had I have been heard before it was issued” (ALS, DLC:GW).

The Loyalist horseowner was Lewis Thompson (c.1754–c.1820), a farmer from Monmouth Court House (Freehold), N.J., who in December 1781 became an ensign in the New Jersey Volunteers.

Cornelius Thompson (1756–1814), brother of Lewis Thompson, became an ensign, or cornet, in the New Jersey Volunteers in March 1777. In January 1781 he was named the adjutant of the 3d battalion of that regiment and in February 1783 rose to lieutenant.

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