<br /> Lee Letter: n74

Washington and Lee University

Sender: George Washington
Recipient: Meriwether Smith,
Recipient: Richard Henry Lee,
Recipient: Cyrus Griffin,
Recipient: William Fleming

Gentlemen:

I was last night honoured with your favor of the 21st Instant.
From the present condition and arrangement of the Cavalry, I cannot
think that Major Lee’s Corps can be sent to Virginia, consistently with
the general service; nor would I willingly indulge the idea, that their
aid can be materially wanted, from any number of Horse the Enemy
carried with them. It is but small, and I should hope that there would
be more than a sufficiency of Militia or Volunteer Corps of this kind,
to restrain their excursions. Major Lee’s corps of Horse, from the
broken and shattered condition of Moylan’s and Sheldon’s and the march
of Bland’s and Baylor’s to the Southward, is what I have principally to
depend on in this line, and without it we might experience at least,
great inconveniences.

With respect to the Virginia Recruits and Levies, I find by a Letter from
General Scott of the 12th, at which time it appears he had not received
the orders for marching them to the Southward, that not being able to
march them this way for want of Cloathing, he had determined, in
consequence of the invasion, and a request by the Assembly, to move
such of them as were collected, towards Williamsburg. Before this, he
will have received Orders as to their Southern destination, which seems
to me a point so very essential, that the Levies should not be stopt
but in a case of very urgent necessity. I have written to Genl. Scott
upon this subject. Any temporary aid he can afford, to the state, which
will not materially interfere with his progress would give me pleasure,
but while affairs are in so delicate a situation in Georgia and South
Carolina, I cannot think it would be advisable to delay their succour,
to give protection against the precarious and desultory attacks of the
Enemy who have entered Chesepeak Bay. And I should hope that the State
will be able in a little time to make such dispositions of the Militia
as will render the detention of the Levies intirely unnecessary. Unable
however, to foresee what may take place and confiding in General
Scott’s judgment and impartial zeal for the true interest of the
service, I have left it to him to act according to the exigency of
circumstances, at the same time that I have recommended the necessity
of proceeding to the Southward to his serious attention. The injury we
may suffer in Virginia tho’ distressing, most probably would be
inconsiderable to that which may befall us in Georgia and Carolina. One
principal motive of the Enemy’s present movements may be to create a
diversion in favour of their operations in those States. From the best
accounts I have been able to collect the detachment amounts to about
2000 Men. The want of Arms is a melancholy circumstance, and it is the
more distressing after so long a War, and after the most conclusive
proofs, that nothing would be left untried on the part of the Enemy to
carry their points against us. It would conduce much to dispatch, in
assembling Militia if proper Signals could be placed throughout the
State, or at least in the Counties lying on Navigable Waters and those
next adjoining and if places for their rendezvous were assigned. By
this means an alarm would be conveyed with great rapidity, and the
Militia would be sooner collected into a compact body. I have found
great benefits from the measure, and I could wish it were generally
adopted.

I have the Honor, etc.2

Notes:

1 Virginia Delegates to the Continental Congress.

2 The draft is in the writing of Robert Hanson Harrison.