Our Collection

At the Institute’s core is the Gilder Lehrman Collection, one of the great archives in American history. More than 70,000 items cover five hundred years of American history, from Columbus’s 1493 letter describing the New World to soldiers’ letters from World War II and Vietnam. Explore primary sources, visit exhibitions in person or online, or bring your class on a field trip.

Washington, George (1732-1799) to Thomas S. Lee

High-resolution images are available to schools and libraries via subscription to American History, 1493-1943. Check to see if your school or library already has a subscription. Or click here for more information. You may also order a pdf of the image from us here.

Gilder Lehrman Collection #: GLC02437.01273 Author/Creator: Washington, George (1732-1799) Place Written: Yorktown, Virginia Type: Manuscript letter Date: 29 October 1781 Pagination: 2 p. + docket

Summary of Content: Asks Governor of Maryland Lee to intervene on the behalf of Captain Thomas Shilds, who Henry Knox ordered to gather supplies for the siege of Yorktown. Shilds was authorized to impress material and he confiscated wooden planks from a man named William Adams, who consequently brought a suit against Shilds. Clerical copy in the hand of Samuel Shaw and signed by him for Washington. See GLC02437.01200 for a related document.

Background Information: Signer of the U.S. Constitution.

Full Transcript: [Draft]
29 Oct 81
During the operations against York, Capt. Thomas Shilds was sent to the Eastern Shore of Maryland, in order to procure plank for the artillery and engineering departments. ...The exigencey was so pressing, that he was directed to spare no measures [struck: to] [inserted: for] procuring if Part of [struck: said Plank, was ] [inserted: it he obtained] by contract, and the remainder, 13540 feet of inch [inserted: pine] plank; he was under a necessity of taking by impress. It was the property of Wm. Adams Esqr. of Somersett County, who has since commenced an action against Capt. Shilds, in consequence of which he is much embarrassed. I have therefore to request the [2]favor of your Excellency to take first steps as you shall think most fit for the relief of Capt. Shilds, he having acted only in conformity to his instructions.

I have the honor to be Your Excellency's Most Obedt Servt.
Signed G. Washington

Camp before York. 29. Octo. 1781.
His Excellency Governor Nelson Lee
To His Exy Govr. [struck: Nelson] [inserted: Lee] (from Gen Washington) respecting Capt. Shilds.
29 Octo. 1781.
See More

People: Washington, George, 1732-1799
Lee, Thomas Sim, 1745-1819
Shaw, Samuel, 1754-1794
Shilds, Thomas, fl. 1781

Historical Era: American Revolution, 1763-1783

Subjects: PresidentRevolutionary WarRevolutionary War GeneralMilitary HistoryMilitary SuppliesMilitary LawBattleBattle of YorktownLawWartime Pillaging and Destruction

Sub Era: The War for Independence

Order a Copy Citation Guidelines for Online Resources