<br /> Lee Letter: n16

Washington and Lee University

Sender: George Washington
Recipient: Richard Henry Lee

Dear Sir:

Your favor of the 26th ult. came to my hands last night, by the
post; but as I am upon the point of setting out for New York, (by the
way of Providence and Norwich,) I can do little more than acknowledge
the receipt of it, and thank you for proceedings and ordinances of the
Virginia Convention, which came safely to
hand.1

At present, the lakes are in an impassable state, neither being clear of
ice, nor covered with such as will admit of transportation; at present
also, our troops are at different stages, on their march from hence to
New York; nor is it possible for me, till I get there, as the Congress
have annexed conditions to my sending the four battalions to Canada, to
tell whether they can be spared or not, as I am unacquainted with the
number of men, or strength of the works at that place. No time shall be
lost in forwarding three battalions if there is a possibility of doing
it with safety; as no person can be more sensible of the importance of
securing Canada than I am. A letter of the 27th ult. from General
Schuyler, informs me that there are many men now stopped at Albany, on
account of the state the ice is in on the lakes. I thank you for your
friendly congratulations on the retreat of the king’s troops from
Boston. It was really a flight; their embarkation was so precipitate;
their loading so confused, (after making greater havoc of the king’s
stores than Dunbar did upon Braddock’s defeat, which made so much
noise,) that it took them eleven days to fit their transports, adjust
the loads of them, and take in water from the islands in Nantasket Road
after they had fallen down there. The coast is now clear of them,
except the Renown, (a 50 gun ship,) and one or
two frigates, which remain here for the protection of such transports
as shall be bound to this port.

I pray you to make my best wishes acceptable to the good doctor, his
lady, and family, &c., and believe me to be, as I really am,
&c.2

Notes:

1 It was on Lee’s motion that Congress ordered four battalions to Canada, as
soon as General Washington “shall be of opinion that the safety of
New York and the eastern service will permit.” (See
Journals of the Continental Congress, Mar. 25,
1776.)

2 The text is from Ford.