<br /> Lee Letter: n98

Washington and Lee University

Sender: George Washington
Recipient: Henry Lee

Dear Sir:

From several circumstances there is reason to believe that a
French Squadron may be expected upon this coast. As it is of the utmost
consequence that Count D’Estaing or the Officer commanding this
Squadron (should such an one arrive) should as soon as possible receive
some necessary information from me, I desire that you will immediately
move with the remainder of your Corps to the County of Monmouth and
take a position as near the coast as you can, without making yourself
liable to a surprise.1 You are to keep up a
constant communication with the shore, and should the squadron have
arrived, or should it hereafter arrive, you are immediately, after
being assured that it is a french fleet, to proceed yourself with the
inclosed letter and deliver it to the Admiral Count D’Estaing or the
commanding Officer. You will endeavour to inform yourself as well as
possible of the Enemy’s naval strength in the Harbour of New York and
what defences they have made at the entrance of it; whether any ships
arrive, and what number and of what force go out. These particulars you
will communicate verbally to the Admiral or commanding Officer, with
any others that may come under your observation. You are to keep this a
profound secret even from your own Officers, making your move under the
colour of going to a better forage Country, and your look Outs upon the
Coast may be said to be for your security from a surprise. I would
advise you to keep up a communication, across south River, with Lt.
Colo. Taylor at Elizabeth town, forwarding your dispatches to him and
desiring him to send them by Express to me. Desire him also to give you
any information which he may obtain from Staten Island. The detachment
from your Corps under Capt. Eggleston 2 will
have orders to join you when they have performed the duty upon which
they at present are.

You will give me the most instantanious information of the fleet should it
arrive after or be arrived when you get down to Monmouth.

I am,
&c.3

Notes:

1 On this same day (September 13) Washington wrote to Lord Stirling: “Some
circumstances having made it necessary to station Major Lee’s corps
at Monmouth, your Lordship will have his post at Paramus occupied by
Lieut. Colo. Washington; inclosed is a letter directing him to take
your orders on this occasion.” This letter is in the Varick
Transcripts in the Library of Congress.

2 Capt. Joseph Eggleston, of Lee’s Legion. He was taken prisoner at
Elizabethtown in January, 1780, exchanged and served to the close of
the war.

3 The draft is in the writing of Tench Tilghman.