<br /> Lee Letter: n10

Washington and Lee University

Sender: George Washington
Recipient: Richard Henry Lee

Dear Sir:

Your favor of the 13th, with the enclosures, for which I thank
you, came to this place on Wednesday evening; part of which, that is,
the night, I was engaged with a party of men throwing up a work upon a
hill, called Cobble Hill, which, in case we should ever be supplied
with such things as we want, may prove useful to us, and could not be
delayed, as the earth here is getting as hard as a
rock.1 This, and the early departure of the
post, prevented my giving your letter an answer the next morning.

In answer to your inquiries respecting armed vessels, there are none of any
tolerable force belonging to this government. I know of but two of any
kind; those very small. At the Continental expense, I have fitted out
six, as by the enclosed list, two of which are upon the cruise directed
by Congress; the rest ply about Cape Cod and Cape Ann, as yet to very
little purpose. These vessels are all manned by officers and soldiers,
except perhaps haps a master and pilots; but how far, as they are upon
the old establishment, which has not more than a month to exist, they
can be ordered off this station, I will not undertake to say, but
suppose they might be engaged anew. Belonging to Providence there are
two armed vessels; and I am told Connecticut has one, which, with one
of those from Providence, is, I believe, upon the cruise you have
directed.

I have no idea that the troops can remove from Boston this winter to a
place, where no provision is made for them; however ever, we shall keep
the best lookout we can; and upon that, and every occasion where
practicable, give them the best we have. But their situation in Boston
gives them but little to apprehend from a parting blow, whilst their
ships can move, and floating batteries surround the town.

Nothing of importance has happened since my last. For God’s sake hurry the
signers of money, that our wants may be supplied. It is a very singular
case, that their signing cannot keep pace with our demands. I heartily
congratulate you and the Congress on the reduction of St. John’s. I
hope all Canada is in our possession before this. No accounts from
Arnold since those mentioned in my last letter to the Congress. Would
it not be politic to invite them to send members to Congress? Would it
not be also politic to raise a regiment or two of Canadians, and bring
them out of the country? They are good troops, and this would be
entering them heartily in the cause.2 My best
regards to the good families you are with.

I am, very affectionately, your obedient
servant.3

Notes:

1 These breastworks, forming one of the strongest points in the American
lines, were thrown up on the night of November 22 by Putnam and Knox,
with the support of the regiments of Cols. William Bond and Ebenezer
Bridge.

2 Congress had already provided for these measures in the instructions given
to a committee (Robert Treat Paine and John Langdon) appointed to
proceed to the northern army for the purpose of conferring with
General Schuyler on the affairs of his department. There were two
regiments raised later – the First Canadian, commanded by Col. James
Livingston, and the Second by Col. Moses Hazen.

3 The text is from Ford.