<br /> Lee Letter: n250

Washington and Lee University

Sender: Francis Lightfoot Lee
Recipient: Robert W. Carter

Dear Sir,

We have had nothing new since the reduction of Montreal, which I suppose
you must have heard of. It is supposed Arnold must be in possession of
Quebec by this time. If he shou’d be too weak to effect it Montgomerie
will join him from Montreal. At all events we have got the most
valuable part of Canada, as it cuts off all communication with the
Indians, & prevents inroads on our fronteers. It wou’d give me
infinite pleasure, if our affairs to the Southward wore as favorable an
Aspect; it will require very vigorous efforts, to put a stop to the
proceedings of Lord Dunmore. We are extremely alarm’d by an express
from the Comtee. of Northhampton County to
Congress1 informing that he has issued a
Proclamation, declaring military Law in Virga. & offering freedom
to all servants & slaves, who shall repair to the King’s standard
which he has erected; that the inhabitants of Norfolk & Princess
Ann Counties have taken an Oath to oppose, to the last drop of their
blood, any of their countrymen who shall come in arms into their
Counties. The Comtee. asks for assistance, being apprehensive that
their people from their exposed situation, & the number of their
slaves, will thro fear be induced to follow the example of the other
two Counties. We have got the Proclamation. I have been thus full least
the letters from Northhampton to our Comtee. of safety shoud be
intercepted; which they were apprehensive of. This intelligence gives
great concern to all the real friends of America; & subjects your
countrymen, to the sneers of its disguised Enemies, & the lukewarm.
Fatal consequences may follow if an immediate stop is not put to that
Devil’s career.

I shoud think a sufficient force of Militia or Minute men, shou’d
immediatly be sent to drive him & his adherent on board the ships;
the estates of the inhabitants of Norfolk, or elsewhere, who have taken
arms agst. the Country shoud be sequesterd for its defence, the
proclamation burnt by the hangman, & heavy penalties inflicted on
those who disperse them thro’ the Country. The patroles shou’d be very
diligent. Will it not be necessary for the convention by a short
Ordinance, to establish the present Laws and Judges? It wou’d
contribute more than anything to the quiet & safety of the people,
& security of our commerce in the spring, if the
Convention2 wou’d exert themselves in
fitting out small armed Vessells, to prevent small tenders from
infesting the bay, & rivers; if it cannot be done in Virga. they
might be procured here. Probably Virga. might spare powder for this
purpose, but without very bad fortune we shall soon have it in. It is
inconceivable what good effects have been produced from such a measure
to the Northward, not a tender dares to come from under the Guns of the
large ships; & the Vessells employ’d by the Army in Boston to
procure wood & provisions are every day falling into our hands.
There are small guns in several parts of Virga., a few at Hobb’s Hole
& Col. Fauntleroys. The furnaces shoud be set to casting them. God
prosper your deliberations.

Yr. afft. friend
Francis Light. Lee

Notes:

Receiver’s copy, Virginia Historical Society.

1 A letter of November 25 from Samuel S. McCroskey, chairman of the
Northampton County Committee, was received and read in Congress on
December 2. See JCC, 3:395; and Am. Archives, 4th ser. 3:1669 – 71. In
response to this request for assistance, which emphasized the
vulnerability of this peninsular Eastern Shore county to Dunmore’s
naval raids, Congress immediately directed “the Committee for fitting
out armed vessels” to plan an attack on Dunmore’s ships in Chesapeake
Bay and dispatched Benjamin Harrison to Maryland to prepare “two or
three armed vessels” for destroying enemy ships there. Simultaneously
the Northampton letter was referred to a committee whose proposals to
dispatch three Pennsylvania companies to Northampton County and to
encourage the people of Virginia to reorganize their provincial
government were approved by Congress on December 4. See JCC, 3:395 – 96, 4034; Richard Henry Lee to the Northampton Committee,
December 5; and Benjamin Harrison to Wilson Miles Cary, December
10,1775.

2 Robert W. Carter was representing Richmond County at the Virginia
Convention that convened in Richmond on December 1. Am. Archives, 4th
ser. 4:76.