<br /> Lee Letter: n328

Washington and Lee University

Sender: Richard Henry Lee
Recipient: Patrick Henry

Dear Sir,

The present moment is critical in the American war. The enemy have taken
vigorous advantage of the space between the old and the new
inlistments, and have rushed like a Torrent thru the Jersies, our
little army of no more than 5000 men under the command of Genl.
Washington, being compelled to retreat rapidly before them. The object
is this City, and they were on Sunday last at Brunswick, about 60 miles
off in the Jersies. The Associators are at length alarmed and turning
out to reenforce the General, but they move rather slower that the
important stake demands. We hear that Gen. Lee has crossed North river
and is following quickly after the enemy, but we are not sure that his
numbers are sufficient for anything decisive. However, if the people
here have any title to the freedom they claim, Mr. Howe will not be
gratified with the possession of this City. And if he gained 20 such
Cities, still he would be short of gaining the point meditated over
America. You remember Sir, we told them from the beginning, that we
lookt on our Cities & Sea Coasts as devoted to destruction, but
that ample resources were still left for a numerous, brave, and free
people to contend with.

Our latest accounts from the French W. Indies tell us that war between G.B.
& France & Spain is inevitable and must be immediate.

I hope our winter councils will be every where devoted solely to the
purpose of carrying on a vigorous, active, and early Campaign. For this
purpose the recruiting Officers in all quarters should be often called
upon by the respective governments to know how they go on, and to urge
them to a quick and effectual execution of the business. Everything my
dear Sir, depends upon the new Levies being nearly ready. Colo. Charles
Harrison leaves this place today, with 250,000 dollars under his care
for the use of our forces in Virginia, and for paying the bounties.
Your recommendation of this Gentlemen, seconded by his real merit, has
procured him the command of a Regiment of Artillery to be raised in
Virginia, Congress having resolved to keep the Artillery &
Engineers departments under immediate Continental
inspection.1 The other day we dispatched for
the Head of Elk to the care of Mr. Hollingsworth there, the Arms taken
from our Soldiers here that better might be put in their hands. They
are between 7 & 8 hundred in number and may be had from thence when
you are pleased to send for them. With some repair they will do
tolerably for the new Levies.

I am extremely pleased to hear that you have recovered your health. May it
long continue good.

I am, with great regard, dear Sir Your most affectionate and obedient,

Richard Henry Lee

Business and alarm press so constantly that we have scarce one moment to
spare.

Notes:

Receiver’s copy, Robert E. Lee Memorial Association, Stratford Hall,
Stratford, Virginia.

Printed in James Curtis Ballagh, The Letters of Richard Henry Lee, Volume 1, 1762 – 1778, pp. 227 – 28. Printed also in William Wirt Henry, Patrick Henry, 3:31.

1 See JCC, 6:981, 983, 995.