<br /> Lee Letter: b239

Washington and Lee University

Sender: Richard Henry Lee
Recipient: William Lee

My dear B.

Your letters of July & August 1780 & feby. 81 are but just come to hand, the two former near a year after date – It is this length of time before letters arrive, the uncertainty of their arriving, and the few opportunities that occur here which discourages writing, or you shd. certainly have heard from me as often as you would choose. I thought it necessary that you should know as soon as possible in what manner you have been affected by the military operations of the enemy in this State wch. you will see by the enclosed account from Valentine your present stewart who succeeded upon the death of Ellis – All that I can say is, that every precaution for security was taken that could have been which has occasioned your loss to be so much less than that of others in similar circumstances of situation &c.

Your neighbors Colo. Taliaferro & Colo. Travis lost every slave they had in the world, and Mr. Paradise has lost all his but one – This has been the general case of all those who were near the enemy – The information given of enemies designs by Le Baron De Guern has been verified most exactly, but the intelligence came too late. Had it come sooner it would have been next to an impossibility to have prevented your loss for reasons that you shall know hereafter. – The enemies Generals here appear to carry on the war much more upon views of private plunder & enriching individuals, than upon any plan of national advantage – This seems to be demonstrated by Lord Cornwallis quitting all that he had been laboring for in the south during more than a year, and leaving all that he had been doing to be undone by Gen. Greene; which has been rapidly and effectually executed by this General of the United States, – whilst the British General has been traversing an undefended part of Virginia, with an army employed in taking off Negroes plate &c & destroying Corn, Cattle, & Tobo. – Our regular force had been sent south, and so soon as our Militia could be collected and joined by a few regular Corps from the Army, his Lordship rapidly retreated in search of safety between the wide rivers where his Ships were ready to take him out of the way of danger.

Our light parties came up with him at yr. Holwater plantation and again between G. Spring & James Town where warm rencontres ensued, to the British loss of between 4 & 500 in killed & wounded, on the American side about 150 killed, wounded, & missing. Immediately after the last action, the enemy crossed James river in the night of the 7th. instant, and we learn are marching to Portsmouth, where we understand they mean to embark for N. York leaving a garrison in that Defile – This is a curious kind of war to wage, and worthy to be sure of the honor of a great King & a powerful Nation. O Britain how art thou fallen! When our brother Dr. Lee returned to Phila. in April, I gave him Con. Loan office certificates of yours for 68100 dollars, 1600 of which carried interest payable in Paris – I requested him to sell these upon the best terms he could & remit you the money – if it can be done, he will do it.

The interest in sterling that has accrued due upon the 1600 dollar certificates I had received bills of exchange for from the Continental Loan Office for Nine hundred & sixty Livres Tournois, which bills I delivered to our brother Arthur to be transmitted to you from Philadelphia, which I have no doubt but he will do. – The enemy have not injured your crops at the different plantations which are at present very good –

In their first visit they took 60 head of Cattle away. With our best love to our Sister & Cousins I am

your affectionate brother & faithful friend.

Richard Henry Lee


Copies of Letters to Landon CarterVirginia Historical Society

Printed in James Curtis Ballagh, The Letters of Richard Henry Lee, Volume 2, 1779 – 1794, pp. 242 – 44. Addressed to William Lee “at Bruxels to the Care of,” and endorsed “Recd. 10 Mar. 1782 Ansd. 11 Do. Do.”