Letter signed ("Go: Washington"), text in the hand of George Johnston, 1 page (12 7/8 x 8 in.; 327 x 203 mm) on a single leaf (watermarked isrb), "Head quarters, Morris Town," 1 March 1777, to Colonel George Baylor (near Fredericksburg), address panel and reception docket on verso; neatly inlaid, seal tear and repair, pinhole repairs at intersecting folds, some spotting.
The Papers of George Washington, Revolutionary War Series, ed. Grizzard, 8:468
Outfitting a cavalry regiment.
George Washington was well-acquainted with the father of George Baylor, and on the further recommendation of Edmund Pendleton, he took him on his staff as an aide-de-camp. After coming to the attention of John Hancock when he delivered to Congress the news of Washington's victory at Trenton, Baylor was promoted and given command of the Third Continental Light Dragoons early in 1777. Washington here encourages Baylor as he tries to procure arms and mounts for his men.
"Your several favours of the 31st Jany & 7th Febry are now before me. I am happy in being informed that the Govr. of Virga. [Patrick Henry] has consented that their Muskett-factory shall equip yr. Regimt. with Carbines & Pistols. I have no doubt of your keeping the Workmen closely to their duty; nor of your using your best Endeavours to purchase proper horses."
Baylor had evidently sought Washington's approval for the irregular transfer of two acquaintances to his regiment. Washington's response makes clear that his devotion to military discipline would not allow him to consider this exception, even for fellow members of the Virginia aristocracy: "As I am not acquainted with all the Gentlemen mentioned in yr. Letter, shall defer my Approbation of them 'till they join the Army. I observe that You have appointed Messrs Jno. Stith & Willm. Armistead. If they are the Gentn. who were in the 4th & 6th Virga. Batns, I must disapprove the Choice: They left the Army without permission, & must return to their Companies immediately, or expect to be treated roughly. If you find, upon Inquiry, the fact to be as I suppose it is, You will inform those Gentn of my Resolution, & fill up their Vacancies."
Washington ends his letter by wishing Baylor "success equal to your warmest Desire." Eighteen months later, Baylor's command was effectively destroyed during the Tappan—sometimes called the Baylor—Massacre. Baylor himself was bayoneted through the lung and taken prisoner. Although he was exchanged and eventually returned to service, he never fully recovered and died as a result of his wounds in 1784.
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