<br /> Lee Letter: b222

Washington and Lee University

Sender: Richard Henry Lee
Recipient: George Washington

. . . I left Richmond on the 3d Inst. in the Afternoon & in the Evening I received a Letter from the Governour informing me, that Arnold with Six Ships, 7 or 8 Brigs & 10 other Vessels, with from 1500 to 2000 Men on Board was as high as Jamestown, & making Sail up James River. The Design of this Party is certainly to plunder & interrupt our Attention to the Southern War. Their Ships present them a sure Asylum whenever we come upon them with a superior Force which in our dispersed Manner, is some Time collecting; & then they sail to another River & so on keeping us in continual hot Water. Altho this pitiful Way of warring puts them not a Jot nearer to their Point of Conquest, yet it may interrupt, & thereby prevent their Ruin, in another Quarter. In their present State one Ship of the Line with a Frigate or two, coming into our Bay would be a Means of speedily & easily apprehending the whole Band of Plunderers, remove our Embarassments & give free Course to our Southern Operations. The Ships that effected this Service might be gone away before the Enemy could get Notice & come with a superior Force by Sea. Besides I do not think they would venture much to relieve the Collection now here. The Success of such a Plan would depend much on its Secrecy & Quickness. Cannot the Minister be consulted on this Point; & the French General & Admiral at Rhode Island thro Gen. Washington. I am satisfied that the Sea Force mentioned already would do the Business & go away before the Enemy could know that it was in Agitation. If you should think with me on this Subject I make no Doubt but that you will take instant Measures to enforce its Adoption with the Zeal that is necessary. . . .

Richard Henry Lee


George Washington PapersLibrary of Congress

Printed in James Curtis Ballagh, The Letters of Richard Henry Lee, Volume 2, 1779 – 1794, pp. 212 – 13. This is a copy of an extract.