George Washington Papers

From George Washington to Colonel Elisha Sheldon, 10 November 1780

To Colonel Elisha Sheldon

Head Quarters Passaic Falls 10th Novemr 1780


The Covers of Most of the dispatches that have lately come from the Count de Rochambeau to me, by the Chain of Expresses, have been so broken, that it would have been an easy matter to have taken out the inclosures and discovered the contents—Had this been the case once or twice only—I should have attributed it to accident, but from the frequency of the thing, and no other packets being broken but those of the Counts; I am led to suspect foul play at some of the Stages. It may perhaps be impossible to discover it, if it is so, but to prevent its going on, the safest way is to relieve all your present stationary Dragoons by a like number, and do the same every three or four Weeks. I would wish you to endeavour to find out whether there is really any thing in what I suspect.1 I am Sir Yr most obt Servt

P.S. Major Tallmadge will have occasion for a detachment of your dismounted Dragoons to execute a piece of Business intrusted to him.2

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

1For GW’s dismantlement of the chain of dragoons to convey communications, see his letter to Rochambeau, 27 Nov.; see also GW to Rochambeau, 10 Dec., and n.2 below. For the establishment of these expresses, see GW to Nathaniel Shaw and to Sheldon, both 31 July; see also Sheldon to GW, 1 Aug., and George Hurlbut to GW, 8 August.

2Sheldon replied to GW from North Castle, N.Y., on 16 Nov.: “Your Excellencys favor of the 10th inst. came to hand yesterday The misconduct of the Expresses, has for some time given me uneasiness, from observing only those letters which have passed thro’ my hands, some of which have been so worn that I have Enclosed them anew. I have ordered the Stages of Dragoons Relieved immediately, agreeable to your Excellency’s orders—I am sorry to observe that I know not how they will be supported, as but few of them can draw from public Magazines—Some of them have lately been turned off, and the rest are threatned, (unless the Accts are adjusted) in the same way. As I trust they will not be long wanted in this service, I hope the People will be contented a little longer. I fear there is little or no Forage purchased for the Public in Connecticut.

“The men ordered for Major Tallmadge’s Command will be ready this day” (ALS, DLC:GW). Maj. Benjamin Tallmadge conducted a raid into Long Island (see Tallmadge to GW, 24 and 25 Nov.; see also Tallmadge to GW, 7 Nov., and n.7).

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