<br /> Lee Letter: n96

Washington and Lee University

Sender: George Washington
Recipient: Henry Lee

Sir:

I have received your letter of this date “requesting me to give you in
writing the instructions which you verbally received from me on the
subject of Powles Hook, when you were last at Head Quarters, and
particularly concerning the immediate evacuation of the post after the
reduction and concerning the retreat.”

When you were last at Head Quarters, the enterprise against Powles Hook was
in contemplation, but not finally determined; mined; as there were some
points of information still to be more fully obtained. I gave you then
in general my ideas of the manner in which it should be conducted,
whenever attempted, and desired you to use your best endeavours to
procure information in such matters as appeared not to be sufficiently
well understood; and mentioned the precautions, that should be taken to
cover the design, and secure the party which might be employed in the
Enterpise in its approach. But with respect to the point to which your
request more particularly extends, to wit, “the evacuation of the post
and concerning the retreat” My principal fear, from the moment I
conceived a design against the post, was on account of the difficulty
of the retreat, founded on the relative situation of the post to that
of the Enemy on York Island. This circumstance induced me to add, that
in case the enterprise should be found eligible on farther inquiries,
and determined on, that no time should be lost in case it succeeded, in
attempting to bring off Cannon, Stores or any other article, as a few
minutes delay might expose the party, at least to imminent risk. I
further recollect that I likewise said that no time should be spent in
such case in collecting Straglers of the Garrison, who might skulk and
hide themselves, lest it should prove fatal; also, that if the post
could not be carried in an instant by surprise, the attempt must be
relinquished. My objects were to surprize it, to bring off the Garrison
immediately, and to effect a secure retreat.

I am,
etc.1

Notes:

1 The draft is in the writing of Richard Kidder Meade.