George Washington Papers

From George Washington to Colonel Stephen Moylan, 27 November 1780

To Colonel Stephen Moylan

[27 Nov. 1780]

To Colo. Moylan commanding the 4th Regt of Light Dragoons—

You will immediately send off all your infirm and reduced Horses to Lancaster in Pennsylvania at or near which place your Regiment will be cantonned for the Winter1—You will give the Officer, who goes with the party, directions to deliver over, to the Deputy Qr Master2 Genl in Lancaster County, all the Horses that you are of opinion will not be fit for Dragoon service another Campaign,3 the remainder you will have recruited and put in good order in the course of the Winter—You will particularly attend to that part of your former instructions pointing out the number of Horses to be kept by each Officer according to his Rank, and see that the number is not on any account exceeded.4 You will have all the old Accoutrements repaired as soon as the Men are fixed in Quarters.

As I presume that the State of Pennsylvania is to compleat your Regiment to the establishment of the 3d & 21st October (which you have seen published in the General Orders of the 1st Inst) I would recommend it to you to wait upon the President yourself, or direct an Officer to do it, with an exact State of the Regiment as to Men and Horses and inform him of the deficiencies in both—You will particularly explain to him that the times of a great part of your Men expire in the course of the Winter, lest, in making provision for filling up the Corps, he may count upon them—I do not know the mode that will be fallen upon to procure the Men and Horses, you will therefore govern yourself by the directions which may be given to you by the Executive Authority, in consequence of the means which may be adopted. Neither do I know whether the State or Continent are to provide your accoutrements— You will make yourself acquainted with that circumstance, and apply in season to one or the other for those necessary for a full Corps, as it is to be presumed that the state will fully comply with the requisition of Congress.5

I shall direct the Officer, with the part of the Regiment which remains here, to repair to Lancaster as soon as the Army quits the Feild.

Df, in Tench Tilghman’s writing, DLC:GW; Varick transcript, DLC:GW. Although 17 Nov. is written on the draft’s docket, subsequent orders for offensive action and a similar letter to Elisha Sheldon dated 27 Nov. indicate that the earlier date is an error for the later one (see Document VI with The Aborted Attack on the Northern Approaches to New York City and the Feint on Staten Island, 9–24 Nov., editorial note; see also GW’s first letter to Samuel Huntington, 27 Nov., n.1).

1GW assigned Moylan’s 4th Continental Dragoons to Lancaster, Pa., for winter quarters (see GW to Huntington, 28 Nov.).

2This word is supplied from the Varick transcript.

3Congress recently had given GW authority to dispose of horses (see Huntington to GW, 12 Nov., and n.5 to that document).

4A previous order had allowed field officers forage for four horses and captains forage for three horses (see GW to Moylan, 27 Nov. 1779).

5See Moylan to GW, 7 Dec. 1780; see also General Orders, 1 November.

Q.M. Gen. Timothy Pickering had written Joseph Reed, president of the Pennsylvania Supreme Executive Council, from Totowa on 12 Nov. to prepare for Moylan’s regiment wintering in “the upper part of Lancaster county.” The troops needed “forage and quarters,” which “must be a work of difficulty, as no magazines are formed and we are destitute of money.” Moylan’s regiment also required “a great number of horses to mount his recruits—probably two hundred. These I have not the smallest prospect of being able to purchase.” With the regiment being part of the Pennsylvania quota, Pickering observed that unless state officials provided horses, “it must, at the opening of the next campaign, take the field on foot” (Pa. Archives description begins Samuel Hazard et al., eds. Pennsylvania Archives. 9 ser., 138 vols. Philadelphia and Harrisburg, 1852–1949. description ends , 1st ser., 8:604–5).

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