<br /> Lee Letter: b240

Washington and Lee University

Sender: Richard Henry Lee
Recipient: William Davies


I am this moment honored with your letters of the 6th. 14th. 15. & 16th. instant, with their inclosures, which I shall give due attention to, and more fully answer by another opportunity, as the express is in haste.

The returns of our men, arms, & ammunition shall hereafter be made in the form that you desire. The arms that were formerly supplied, added to 55 stands which I lately received from Gen. Weedon, have well armed our militia in Westmoreland. I wish we were as well off for ammunition, experienced officers, cannon, and cavalry. Perhaps you may soon have an opportunity of sending ammunition to Gen. Weedon at Fredericksburg by some return Waggons, and we can readily get it from him. if the powder & lead is unfixed, we shall greatly want cartridge paper.

Unless we had public furbishers & a public magazine, the public arms that we have received from time to time, must have been spoiled. And therefore I have heretofore delivered them to the captains taking their receipts, and directing a receipt from each man who received a public arm, and frequent inspection into the condition of them – When future deliveries shall take place I will endeavor to follow your ideas respecting the securities. Whenever the Commissioners shall apply to me I will certainly give them my best advice, and when any thing shall pass under my observation that I think deserves your notice I will do myself the honor to communicate to you. Most certainly, such specifics as cannot in due season be brought into use at the army had better be sold than spoil as frequently hath been the case to the injury of the public and so as to have produced reflections upon the inattention of Government – There is nothing here, so necessary, in my opinion, for each county to be furnished with from such sales, as military Stores, arms, ammunition, & field pieces, with drums, colors &c &c – At present I do not recollect any person with us more fit for the office of recruiting Officer than Lieut. George Garner of our militia, but I do not know that he will accept the appointment – perhaps the best way would be to send me a blank commission and I will fill it with the best man I can get – By letter from the Marquis of the 20th. instant I learn that the enemy, leaving but a feeble garrison in Portsmouth, have collected their whole force in Gloucester county near Gloucester Town, having left the York side – he expects shortly a strong attempt upon some quarter – That the Northern neck may be that quarter is not very unlikely – many objects are on Potomac river – It must be confessed that we are here in a very condition to meet such a storm, altho some of us have long foreseen it, and have endeavored to be prepared, but our unaided efforts have been insufficient. Gen. Weedon was lately here after passing thro the lower counties of this neck, and we formed a plan of defence, which, if it were supported by government would enable us to stay a little the progress of evil, until we could get assistance. Northumberland & Richmond have already a Troop of horse by government sanction, had we that sanction & commissions in Westmd. Lancaster, & King George, we shd. in the 5 counties have 90 horse, which with one half of our Infantry amounting to 1100 pretty well armed as we can arm them, if supplied with ammunition & the whole conducted by an experienced gen. Officer on the spot, & with some field pieces, would place us in a tolerable posture – Gen. Weedon promised without delay to lay this plan before government, & I beg leave to recommend it to your patronage that it may receive such speedy consummation as the vicinity of the enemy demands. I have the honor to be with singular esteem & regard Sir

your most obedient humble Servant.

Richard Henry Lee

P.S. I lately wrote to the Governor for some blank Militia commissions of which we are in great want, but hitherto I have received no answer. Will you be pleased to remind the Governor of it?


Dreer CollectionHistorical Society of Pennsylvania

Printed in James Curtis Ballagh, The Letters of Richard Henry Lee, Volume 2, 1779 – 1794, pp. 244 – 46. Colonel William Davies served as commissioner of the War Office, at Virginia Governor Thomas Jefferson’s recommendation to the Continental Congress.