<br /> Lee Letter: n263

Washington and Lee University

Sender: Francis Lightfoot Lee
Recipient: Landon Carter

My dear Colonel

I intended to have devoted yesterday to answer your kind Letters by last
Monday’s post; but unexpected business intervened which prevented me,
and this day I find my obligation increased by the receipt of yours of
the 1st Inst. I must now content myself with assuring you that I am
very sensible of your Friendship; and acquainting you with the
occurrences in this part of the world; the only return in my power for
your kindness. Genl. Washington having intelligence that Genl. Clinton
with a body of troops had sailed from Boston & suspecting their
intention was to make a lodgment in N. York; dispatched Genl. Lee to
prevent its Lee arrived there last week with 1100 men, & on the
same day in pop. Clinton, who had been seperated from his fleet in a
snow storm. Finding Lee there, he & Tryon assured the town upon
their honor that the troops were not destined for N. York & nothing
hostile was intended agst. them. Lee knowing the cue of the Ministry
& all their agents, continued to call in more forces. This day he
sent us an express that one of the transports full of soldiers was
arrived & several others seen at the hook. However as Lee had 4000
men, it is immagined Clinton will comply with part of his honorable
engagement, & attempt nothing agst. N. York; but proceed to Virga.
which place, some Gentlemen (in pretended confidence) were assured, was
the original destination of the fleet so that perhaps old bess will not
long remain lean. Clinton’s pretended rendezvous is at Hampton Road
where he is to be joined by a fleet from England with 5 Regiments. His
present force is supposed to be 6 or 700 men. I fear your want of Arms
& good Genls will make this little army very formidable to you. We
have not yet apply’d to Congress for yr. Genl. Officers, nor do we know
where they will be got; those that are good for anything seem to have
their hands full to the North & Eastward. Whenever they are
appointed, you may be assured I will not fail to put in a good word for
my young friend Landon.1 Had we not been
deceived in our intelligence respecting the 30 tons of powder, Boston
in all probability woud now be in our possession, but alas for want of
that necessary, the favorable season has passed away without anything
being effected; & now the nest must remain probably till next
winter. However we have now in hand 117 tons of saltpetre, 13 of powder
& 1300 stand of arms. The utmost dispatch is using to manufacture
the Saltpetre which will soon enable us to answer all demands wch are
now very great from all quarters; but we expect in the present scramble
for the 13 tons, to get one or two for Virga. Our affairs in Canada are
in as a good a situation as we coud expect since our unfortunate
attempt upon Quebec. We have no doubt of having a sufficient force
there to render a good Acct. of Carlton before he can be reinforced.
Capt. Manly of the Lee, now of the Hancock, is daily taking some of
their supply transports, in return for which two ships loaded by the
Congress to procure military stores, have fallen into the Enemy’s hand.

I find Ld. D. is endeavouring to persuade the settlers on the Rivers to
remain quiet & not remove their stocks & provisions. No doubt
till he is enabled to come & ease them of them all. Tis strange
that this monster & the rest of his infernal tribe shou’d expect to
be credited by a single person, after the innumerable instances of
cruelty, rapacity & perfidy, fresh in everyones mind, which they
have exhibited in every part of the world. The Ministerial scheme agst
Sayre, Lee & others was this. The workmen leaving the docks,
demanding higher wages, applying to the American friends to supply them
with money to convey them out of the Kingdom, was all under the
direction of Ld Sandwich, in order to bring the Americans under the
penalty for inveigling the Kings workmen out of the Kingdom. It was
about to take effect when one more honest than the rest of his fellows,
disclosed the whole affair to the Alderman. This failing, their next
plan is, to make one Richardson, a native of this City whom they have
made an officer in the Guards, swear away the life of Sayre, & it
is apprehended [of] the other also.2 Is it
possible that any one can expect anything good from such abandoned
Villains? From them & all their hellish plots Good Lord deliver us.
Our best respects to Sabine Hall, &

believe me Dear Col. Your afft.
friend & very hble Sevt.
Francis Lightfoot Lee

Notes:

Receiver’s copy, Virginia Historical Society.

1 Carter had asked Lee to recommend his grandson Landon as an aide-de-camp to
the commander of the southern department. However, Gen. Charles Lee,
who was appointed to head the southern forces on March 1,
subsequently retained the aides-de-camp already serving with him. See
Landon Carter, The Diary of Colonel Landon Carter of Sabine Hall,
1752 – 1778, ed. Jack P. Greene, 2 vols. (Charlottesville: University
Press of Virginia, 1965), 2:1006 – 7; and Francis Lightfoot Lee to
Landon Carter, March 19, 1776.

2 For further information about the “next plan” against Stephen Sayre (173S
1818), an American banker and merchant who served as sheriff of
London, 1773 – 74, and was arrested there in October 1775 for allegedly
plotting to kidnap the king and seize the Tower of London, see Edmund
Burke, The Correspondence of Edmund Burke, ed Thomas W. Copeland
(Cambridge: At the University Press, 1958 – ) vol. 3, July 1774 – June
1778, ed. George H. Guttridge (1961), pp. 233 – 34; and Horace Walpole,
The Sale Edition of Horace Walpole’s Correspondence, ed. W. S. Lewis
(New Haven: Yale University Press, 19324:138 – 39.See also DAB.