George Washington Papers

From George Washington to Major Henry Lee, Jr., 3 September 1780

To Major Henry Lee, Jr.

Head qrs [Bergen County] Sep. 3. 1780


Several days ago I received a Letter from the Honble Mr Brearly, Chief Justice of Jersey in which he mentions that “Complaint has been made to me by a Member of the Legislature of Somerset County, together with other respectable Inhabitants, that a Detachment of Major Lee’s light Dragoons have quartered themselves upon the Inhabitants of that County near Rockey Hill, without any order of Law, are impressing forage by their own authority, and committing other great outrages on the Inhabitants. The persons particularly complained against, are Captn Rudolph, Doctor Irvin and One Stephen Lewis, supposed to be a Commissioned Officer.”1 I would willingly hope that this Complaint has been exaggerated and preferred in much stronger terms than facts would warrant. There is nothing I wish for more than harmony & a good understanding to prevail between the Citizenry and the Army—it is essential to our success—& whenever circumstances compel to any measures out of the common line and which may bear hard against the Inhabitants—they ought not to be carried farther than necessity may absolutely require. I have not written to Mr Brearly yet in Answer to his Letter but I wish to do it without further delay. I want previously however to hear from You after communicating this Letter to the Office⟨rs⟩ who are particularly complained of.2 I am Sir With great regard Yr Most Obedt st


Df, in Robert Hanson Harrison’s writing, DLC:GW; Varick transcript, DLC:GW.

1David Brearley’s letter to GW from Trenton on 11 Aug. continued at this point: “I have forborn issuing my Warrant for them, well knowing that every such wanton infraction of the Laws, would meet your Excellencys utmost disapprobation, and that your desire to support order, and the rights of Citizens, would induce you to deliver them, to be dealt with agreeably to the established laws of the State” (ALS, DLC:GW). GW’s reply to Brearley on 6 Sept. has not been found, but see Lee to GW, 5 Sept., n.3.

Stephen Lewis (1712–1790) enlisted in the 1st Continental Dragoons in November 1777. He joined Lee’s Partisan Corps as a sergeant in April 1778, became a cornet and quartermaster in August 1779, and served until the end of the war.

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