George Washington Papers

From George Washington to Colonel Timothy Pickering, 15 February 1781

To Colonel Timothy Pickering

Hd Qrs New Windsor Feby 15. 81


I have ordered a detachment of light troops amounting to a thousand rank and file to assemble at Peek’s Kill in readiness to march towards Morris Town by the 19th.1 I am to desire you will have waggons ready for them by that period, to remain attached to them for some time and forage at proper stages on the route. It is necessary this business should be executed with punctuality. When you have given your directions I shall be glad to see you at Head Quarters. You must comprehend in your provision horses for four pieces of light artillery.2 I am Sir Yr Most Obed. serv.

Go: Washington

LS, in Alexander Hamilton’s writing, NN: Washington Collection; Df, DLC:GW; Varick transcript, DLC:GW.

On this date, GW’s aide-de-camp Alexander Hamilton wrote Pickering from headquarters: “The General directs you will send off the inclosed dispatch for Count De Rochambeau very early in the morning with the most positive directions concerning expedition—It is of great importance that it should arrive to him as quick as possible.

“He wishes you also to write to the Qr Master at the station of your last express and desire him in case Sheldon should not have taken up the chain there, to forward it by a trusty and active person to the Duke De Lauzuns first stage which is at Hartford. … The General says he had a conversation with you on the manner of procuring waggons. Be so good as to inclose the letter for the Duke De Lauzen to your deputy at Hartford with directions, to deliver it immediately into the Duke’s own hand—the two to Chattelux & Noailles to your deputy at New Port with the same directions each to its proper owner—If you have no deputy, send them to some friend—They are it seems of a very confidential nature” (NN: Hamilton Papers [Ford Collection]). For the letter to Lieutenant General Rochambeau, see GW to Rochambeau, this date. The other letters have not been identified. Brigadier General Lauzun had just left New Windsor, and several French officers were visiting GW’s headquarters (see GW to Rochambeau, 14 and 15 Feb.).

2GW provided additional orders to Pickering on 16 Feb.: “Whereas I have ordered a detachment of the army to march from Peeks-kill on the 19th instant on a service which may often not admit of the delay resulting from an observance of the usual forms for procuring teams and forage on the route—You are hereby authorised, by yourself or deputy (whenever it may be necessary) to procure those articles by military impress in the Country, through which the detachment marches—for which this shall be your warrant. Given at Head Quarters New Windsor Feby 16th 1781” (DS, in Hamilton’s writing, DNA: RG 93, manuscript file no. 28369; copy, DNA: RG 93, Records of Quartermaster General Timothy Pickering, 1780–87).

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