George Washington Papers

From George Washington to Major General Arthur St. Clair, 22 February 1781

To Major General Arthur St. Clair

Head Quarters New Windsor 22d Feby 1781

Dear Sir

You will, by the time this reaches you, be acquainted with the destination of the detachment under the command of the Marquis de la Fayette, which, tho’ as large as could be afforded from the troops in this quarter, is not so competent to the certain completion of the object in view, as I could wish.1 By some accounts from Philada I am led to hope that further assistance may be derived from the Pennsylvania line. If you find it practicable to form a Battalion of eight Companies of 50 Rank and File each—three Officers to a Company and two feild Officers to a Battalion, in such time as the Marquis shall think will answer his purpose, you will be pleased to do it, and put it under his command—The detachment will be but temporary, the nomination of the Feild Officers I leave to you—It is possible that the Battalion may be formed, but not in time to embark at the Head of Elk with the other troops—This will not be so material, provided it can be done in a short2 time afterwards. That time you and the Marquis will determine. If the Companies cannot be compleated to 50 each—I would take them at 40 rather than lose the Reinforcement or even half a Battalion of 200 under the command of one Feild Officer rather than none—Transports can be provided and held ready at the Head of Elk, should they not embark with the other troops—The places of rendezvous of the 1st 2d 5th and 6th Battalions are none of them very distant from Elk, and I should imagine the detachment would be most readily and conveniently formed from them—But this I leave to your judgment. I am &.

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

St. Clair replied to GW on 2 March that he could not form the requested battalion.

1See GW to Lafayette, 20 Feb. (both letters [1 and 2]).

2Hamilton initially wrote “reasonable” on the draft. He then struck out that word and wrote “short” above the line.

Index Entries