You may observe by the letter accompanying this, that I had paid my respects to you some time ago, but Mr. Coulston disappointed me in not calling for my letter.1 The enemy have been lately amazingly active on the banks of the North river, both forts Washington & Lee having become theirs. We have not had theparticulars of either from authority, but you will see by the paper that they have paid a good price for the former, and report says our troops had evacuated the latter before they came up, but had not time to remove their stores. Indeed it had been determined to abandon Fort Lee as no longer useful after Mount Washington was lost. It is most clear, upon every view of things, that Gen. Howe must exert every nerve to effect something more than he has yet done with a land and marine force that all Europe had been taught to believe would in one Campaign crush America. Our enemies must become the laughing stock of Europe and the contempt even of their own nation if much, very much more than has yet been done is not expected before they go into winter quarters. Upon these principles it is said Gen. Howe proposes to endeavor to get to this City thro the Jersies – I think he will find this a difficult &
dangerous enterprize – But I should have very little objections to his plundering the Quakers, if we can get the public stores removed, because they have taken such true pains to get him & his Hessians here.

The late proceedings of Portugal will probably produce a rupture between us & them. This foolish Court, that cannot injure us, that has every thing to loose on the water, dependent in Commerce, and cannot gain by war, has shut its ports to us, and, as some suppose, confiscated our Vessels.2 If this last is done, it will not be long before we hear of some Brazelemen being brought into our ports.

NOTES: Extract reprinted from Samuel T. Freeman & Co. Catalog. The Frederick S. Peck Collection of American Historical Autographs (May 13, 1947),pp. 11 – 12.

1 Although Samuel T. Freeman & Co. suggested Landon Carter as the probable recipient of this letter, his nephew Robert Carter of Nomini Hall, Westmoreland County, may have been the actual recipient, since Lee originally expected that his November 10 letter to Robert Carter would be delivered by “Mr. Coulston.” See Richard Henry Lee to Robert Carter, November 10, 1776, document note.

2 See William Hooper to Joseph Hewes, November 16, 1776, note 8; and JCC, 6: 1035 – 36,