<br /> Lee Letter: n83

Washington and Lee University

Sender: George Washington
Recipient: Henry Lee

Dear Sir:

I have received your letter of yesterday and thank you for the
intelligence you communicated. I would caution you not to place too
much confidence in Mr. Smith. I suppose he is the son of Mr. Thomas
Smith, whose attachment to us is very generally and I believe justly
suspected. The presumption is that the son holds similar sentiments to
his father though the contrary is possible enough. The appearances he
puts on may only be to gain opportunities of communicating with the
Enemy and serving them in reality while he is only serving us in
pretence.

The measure you propose of puting deserters from our Army to immediate
death would probably tend to discourage the practice. But it ought to
be executed with caution and only when the fact is very clear and
unequivocal. I think that that part of your proposal which respects
cutting off their heads and sending them to the Light Troops had better
be omitted Examples however severe ought not to be attended with an
appearance pearance of inhumanity otherwise they give disgust, and may
excite resentment rather than terror.

I am,
etc.1

Notes:

1 The draft is in the writing of Caleb Gibbs.