Philadelphia 3d , 1776
The present moment is critical in the American war. The enemy have taken vigorous advantage of the space between the old and the new enlistments, and have rushed like a Torrent thru the Jersies, our little army of no more than 5000 men under the command of Genl. Washington, being compelled to retreat rapidly before them. The object is this City, and they were sunday last at Brunswick, about 60 miles off in the Jersies. The Associators are at length alarmed and turning out to reenforce the General, but they move rather slower that the important stake demands. We hear that Gen Lee has crossed North river and is following quickly after the enemy, but we are not sure that his numbers are sufficient for any thing decisive. However, if the people here have any title to the freedom they claim, Mr. Howe will not be gratified with the possession of this City. And if he gained 20 such Cities, still he would be short of gaining the point meditated over America. You remember Sir, we told them from the beginning, that we looked on our Cities [letter torn] Costs as devoted to destruction but that ample resources were still left for a numerous brave and free people [to contend] with.
Our latest accounts from the French, W. Indies tell us that war between G.B. & France & Spain is inevitable and must be immediate.
I hope our winter councils will be every where devoted solely to the purpose of carrying on a vigorous, active, and early Campaign. For this purpose the recruiting Officers in all quarters should be often called upon by the respective governments to know how they go on, and to urge them to a quick and effectual execution of the business. Every thing my dear Sir, depends upon the new Levies being only ready. Colo. Charles Harrison leaves this place today, with 250,000 dollars under his care for the use of our forces in Virginia, and for paying the bounties. Your recommendation of this Gentleman, seconded by his real merit, has procured him the command of a Regiment of Artillery to be raised in Virginia. (Congress) having resolved to keep the Artillery & Engineers departments under immediate Continental inspection. The other day we dispatched for the Head of Elk to the care of Mr. Hollingsworth there, the Arms taken from our Soldiers here that better might be put in their hands. They are between 7 & 8 hundred in number and maybe had from thence when you are pleased to send for them. With some repair they will do tolerably for the new Levies.
I am extremely pleased to hear that you have recovered your health, may it long continue good.
I am with great regard, dear Sir,
Your most affectionate and obedient,
Richard Henry Lee
Business and alarm [progress] constantly that we [have] scarce one moment to spare
Source: Archives of the Robert E. Lee Memorial Foundation, Papers of the Lee Family, Box 2, M2009.051, Jessie Ball duPont Library, Stratford Hall
Transcribed by Colin Woodward, 2016 February 16