George Washington Papers

From George Washington to Thomas Sim Lee, 6 September 1780

To Thomas Sim Lee

Head Quarters Bergen County Septr 6th 1780


In consequence of the disagreeable intelligence of the defeat of the Army, under Major General Gates, which I have just received: I think it expedient to countermand the march of the Troops which were ordered from Maryland to join the Main Army.1 I am therefore to request Your Excellency to give directions for the Regiment lately raised for the War, as well, as for all the Recruits of your State (as soon as they can possibly be collected and organized) to march immediately to the Southward, and put themselves under the Orders of the Commanding Officer in that department.

Altho I have not had the particulars of the late disaster, or of how extensive a nature it is: Yet it is certain the exigency is such, as will demand the most vigorous & spirited Measures to retrieve our affairs and check the Enemy: And I cannot entertain a doubt, but Your Excellency and the State will use every exertion to give activity and dispatch to the march of the Troops; and to all the Measures necessary for the protection of the Southern States.2

I have enclosed this Letter open to the Board of War, that in case the Regt in question is on its March from Maryland it may be ordered to return without delay.3 I have the honor to be Your Excellencys Most Obedient and very Humble Servant

Go: Washington

LS, in David Humphreys’s writing, MdAA; Df, DLC:GW; Varick transcript, DLC:GW.

Board of War secretary Benjamin Stoddert wrote a note on the LS dated 11 Sept. from Philadelphia: “The Troops (who are all here) will proceed immediately to the Head of Elk. Maj. Giles has recd orders from this Office for Coats, vests, Linen overalls, Shirts, hatts, & shoes. knapsacks & Canteens. & Arms & accoutrements, for 450 Men. it is expected all the articles will be recd—but the Men will want Woolen overalls, breeches, & stockings—articles which cannot be furnished here, & yet essential” (see also Edward Giles to GW, 5 Sept.).

2Representing the Maryland Council, Lee replied to GW from Annapolis on 15 Sept.: “We were, this Day, honored with your Excellency’s Letter, of the 6th Instant.

“The Regiment, lately raised by this State, is at Philadelphia, where it has been some Days past, under the Command of Major Giles, who has the Orders of the Board of War, for necessary Cloathing.

“When the Articles are procured, which the Major is extremely desirous of effecting, and which, he writes, he shall certainly accomplish, very shortly, the Regiment shall be marched, with the utmost Expedition, to reinforce the Southern Army, agreeably to your Excellency’s Order.

“We beg your Excellency to be assured, that every Thing shall be done, on our Part, to give Efficacy to your Orders, and facilitate the March of the Troops, to the Place of Destination” (LS, DLC:GW; copy, MdAA; see the source note above and Giles to Lee, 5 and 12 Sept., and 15 Nov., in Md. Archives description begins Archives of Maryland. 72 vols. Baltimore, 1883–1972. description ends , 45:78–79, 100–101, 18–86).

3GW wrote the Board of War from headquarters in Bergen County on this date: “The purport of the inclosed to Governor Lee of Maryland is to order the additional Regt of that state to repair immediately to the southward instead of this Army as was intended. It is possible that the Regiment may have reached Philada or may be upon the Route from Baltimore to that place—In case the first event should have taken place, you will be pleased to order the Regt back, and if it should not have arrived, you will send a person forward with the letter and with directions to turn it back should it be met upon the Road” (Df, in Tench Tilghman’s writing, DLC:GW; Varick transcript,DLC:GW).

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