<br /> Lee Letter: n91

Washington and Lee University

Sender: George Washington
Recipient: Henry Lee

Dr. Sir:

I have received your letter of yesterday with its inclosures. The
plan you propose for the attack of Powlus Hook and for making good the
retreat of the party is well concerted and such as would be most likely
to succeed, if the enterprise were to be carried into execution. But
upon the whole in the present position of the
enemy’s army, I should deem the attempt too hazardous and not warranted
by the magnitude of the object. We should lose more in case of failure
than we could gain in case of success; and a single deserter or
disaffected inhabitant may disclose the design and involve the party in
ruin. The idea I had of the matter was that it might not require more
than 300 men; it becomes the less eligible from the greater number you
think requisite, which are too many to expose to any material danger.
These considerations induce me to suspend the attempt ’till a more
favourable opportunity, unless it can be made in a manner less
hazardous. The manner I have in view is by water by way of Newark bay.
Boats may be collected near Elizabeth Town so as to threaten Staten
Island.

The party intended for the enterprise may either embark there proceed up
the bay, and land within two or three miles of the post or it may meet
the boats near Newark embark there and cross directly over. The doubt
is whether, notwithstanding the collection of the boats would look
immediately towards Staten Island, it may not also give the alarm for
Powlus Hook, and put them upon their guard. This I think is some what
to be apprehended. I would however wish you to turn your thoughts this
way and give me your opinion as to the probability of success.

I am,
etc.1

Notes:

1 The draft is in the writing of Alexander Hamilton.