172
172
Washington, George, as Continental Commander
Estimate
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LOT SOLD. 25,000 USD
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172
Washington, George, as Continental Commander
Estimate
20,00030,000
LOT SOLD. 25,000 USD
JUMP TO LOT

Details & Cataloguing

The JAMES S. COPLEY LIBRARY: MAGNIFICENT AMERICAN HISTORICAL DOCUMENTS: FIRST SELECTION

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Washington, George, as Continental Commander

Letter signed ("Go: Washington"), text in the hand of Tench Tilghman, 2 pages (9 x 7 1/4 in.; 229 x 185 mm) on a bifolium (watermarked posthorn | gr), "Head Quarters Valley Forge," 18 April 1778, to Colonel Theodorick Bland (in Virginia), address panel and reception docket on verso of second leaf; silked with minor losses and repairs, seal tear and repair. Half blue morocco slipcase, red morocco labels.


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Literature

The Papers of George Washington, Revolutionary War Series, ed.   Hoth, 14:545–46 (text from the draft, with several variations in incidentals, wording, and the elision of the final sentence of the first paragraph); cf. The Bland Papers, ed. Charles Campbell (Petersburg, 1840)

Catalogue Note

Following the privations of Valley Forge, Washington assures a cavalry officer, "you need not be afraid of procuring too many Horses, Arms and accoutrements."

In March, Col. Bland had been relieved of his field duties with the First Regiment of Continental Light Dragoons and instructed, in concert with Col. George Baylor, to obtain six hundred horses for a planned augmentation of the Continental Cavalry. While Washington was quite exacting in his initial instructions (the horses were to be at least a quarter-blooded, not less than fourteen-and-a-half hands high, between the ages of five and twelve, and generally "sound and clean made"), by the time he wrote this letter, time had become of the essence: "I yesterday was favd with yours without date. The Season is already so far advanced, that however inconvenient it may be, I plainly perceive we shall be obliged to bring our new raised Horse into the feild without training. I am sorry to inform you that few of the Horses sent out last winter to recruit will be in any kind of condition, such has been the inattention of their officers, and we shall for that reason be under the further necessity of using our fresh Horses immediately. You will therefore be pleased to send forward the Recruits as fast as you can mount them, those who have not had the small pox as well as those that have. They may be inoculated as soon as they join their Regiment, and should be cautioned carefully to avoid every place where the small pox is or has lately been. If you should have more Horses than men, the spare ones may be led."

Bland is also to see to uniforming the expanded cavalry, as well as finding recruits to its ranks. "As the Recruits and Horses are to be sent to the Regiment, the Riding Master should remain there also, and as a Feild Officer will be necessary to take the command I desire that Major Jameson may come on and leave Lt Colo. Temple to compleat the cloathing of the Regiment. To pay for which you are to supply him with Money.

"Altho' the recruiting of Men was not mentioned in your instructions, it was intended, and I am glad you have been going on with it. You found so great an advantage from having the Men of your Regiment mostly natives, and all of them of reputable connections, that I need not urge to you the benefit we shall derive from having men of that Class in the Cavalry, and I therefore hope you will be attentive in your choice. I have not been able to obtain a correct general Return of Cavalry, but you need not be afraid of procuring too many Horses, Arms and accoutrements."

Washington's last point was moot. Coordinating with Benjamin Temple, Richard Caswell, and Cosimo Medice, Bland had some success in obtaining breeches, stockings, boots, caps, shirts, saddles, buckets, and other supplies—but horses were not to be had at any price.

In August, Washington recalled Bland to headquarters at White Plains, from where he was sent to oversee the Saratoga Convention Army. A bit more than two years later, Bland had resigned his commission and taken a seat in the Continental Congress as a delegate from Virginia. Perhaps he had come to share the opinion of Richard Henry Lee, who wrote that although Bland was "noble, sensible, honorable, and amiable," he was "never intended for the department of military intelligence."

The JAMES S. COPLEY LIBRARY: MAGNIFICENT AMERICAN HISTORICAL DOCUMENTS: FIRST SELECTION

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New York