George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Otho Holland Williams, 1 January 1783

Philadelphia 1st Jany 1783


The information I received at camp and communicated to your Excellency, relative to the expected resignation of a general officer was, I believe, not well founded—But if your excellencys opinion should concur with my wishes I may possibly obtain employment by another circumstance.

I am advised that it is in contemplation at the War office, to organize all the independant corps, and such as are not included in the Brigades of the districts, as lately established by Congress, or general Hazens regiment—That the cavalry particularly, is to be reduced upon a plan similar to that of the Infantry and that, in consequence, some of the field Officers will go out of service.

I do not know whether all the Regiments of Cavalry are to be constituted in a Legionary manner according to a resolve of Congress but certainly, if regard is had to the experience of our cavalry that plan will be preferred—Lee’s Legion proved the advantage of it, and General Greene, satisfied that it was the best, formed a detachment of Infantry which always served with the Dragoons commanded by Lt Colo. Washington, in the field and was their security in quarters—the cavalry of the Southern Army were repeatedly surprized before, but never after that expedient was adopted.

Speaking with the assistant Secretary at War on this subject I have used the liberty of suggesting that, if it is found impracticable or inadvisable to execute the former plan respecting the cavalry, the most convenient and useful will be to reduce the regiments to as many troops and companies as they, respectively, have Horses and Men to form, or that they hereafter severally consist of a given number of mounted and dismounted Dragoons constituted as Legionary corps distinguished by names or numbers, and calculated to serve seperately or collectively in a Regiment or Brigade.

If this or any similar plan should take place, and Congress should order a general Officer to take command of these and the independant companies of Infantry and artillery, if there are any, or of the Legionary corps only, I shall be very glad of the appointment, if it may be without injury to the feelings of other gentlemen, and with your Excellencys approbation—I am, Your Excellencys Most obedient and Most Humble Servt

O.H. Williams

DLC: Papers of George Washington.

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