<br /> Lee Letter: b125

Washington and Lee University

Sender: Richard Henry Lee
Recipient: Patrick Henry

My Dear Sir,

The state of my health has hitherto by no means permitted me to leave home any distance, or I should certainly have obeyed your summons – I hope however, in a few days to be able to pay my respect to the general assembly. It seems the determination of Providence, whose superintending care of Virginia has been evident from the origin of our country, that we shall not want the great and necessary security which is derived from a well formed Artillery. The Bearer of this is one of those Veteran Sergeants of Artillery, whom you see made mention of in the Delegates’ engagement with Monsr. Loyeauté. This Gentleman, pursuing his point with that zeal and industry that distinguishes his character, took immediate and effectual measures to procure the return of these old and skilful soldiers, whose abilities he knew to be so necessary for the right forming of a useful and serviceable corps of this kind. Notwithstanding therefore the great pains taken to prevent these people from coming, as well by their discontented Countrymen who were returning to France, as by some who wanted them elsewhere; by the care of a colonel of Artillery to whom Monsr Loyeauté had written, and of Monsr Pierre, who is likewise mentioned in the Delegates’ agreement, the Sergeants, five in number, with Monsr Pierre, Monsr Bigarre, & Monsr Coyette are on their way to Williamsburg. This sergeant has travelled before the rest, and was sent on to Williamsburg from York, and called here having been informed that Capt. Loyeauté was at this place. The knowledge of artillery is so indispensible to the public security according to the modern mode of making war, that I cannot help rejoicing at the opportunity we now have, if it be rightly improved, of possessing the best artillery of any state in the Union. Beneficial indeed will be the change to that, from being almost the worst provided! When I know that most of the other States are cautiously providing in this way, and wisely strengthening themselves in this branch, I own, I am alarmed at our great deficiency, and small prospects of being better off without the aid of imported knowledge. These officers and men, being among the best in the French army, their leave of absence is limited to a year from this time, but in that space, aided by a little longer indulgence, which may be procured by the influence of Capt. Loyeauté’s father, who is a General in the Artillery of France, they may be able to place us in a situation such as to complete effectually what they begin. Neither this sergeant, nor any of the absent corps yet know that Mons’ Loyeauté has missed command of our regiment, and probably discontent & desire to return, may arise from that knowledge, so that it will be well to have the determination of the Assembly on Captain Loyeauté’s last proposition before they are made acquainted with this gentleman’s disappointment. In a few days we shall be in Town, and in the mean time be pleased to give directions how the Bearer is to be supported. When President Hancock returned to Boston, the Delegates obtained his promise to give every facility in his power to the return of these Veterans, and to furnish what might be necessary for them. In consequence of which, this Sergeant tells us, Mr. Hancock advanced them 600 dollars to bear the expense of the corps to Virginia. I am with sincere esteem & regard, dear sir,

your most obedient and very humble servant.

Richard Henry Lee

P.S. By the late arrival of a store ship at Portsmouth in N. Hampshire, The United States are now, in the whole, possessed of about 200 field pieces of Brass – These are many more than they want, and in consequence, if application were made to Congress for six of those now at Charles Town in South Carolina, there is no doubt but they will be lent to our State, and on light travelling carriages may soon be transported hither – Capt Loyeauté thinks this quite necessary to conduct properly the b – – of instructions. I wish the affair was immediately taken up in the Assembly.



Printed in William Wirt Henry, Patrick Henry, 3:140. Printed also in James Curtis Ballagh, The Letters of Richard Henry Lee, Volume 1, 1762 – 1778, pp. 376 – 78.