<br /> Lee Letter: n340_0193

Washington and Lee University

Sender: Richard Henry Lee
Recipient: Robert Morris

Dear Sir

The impossibility of getting intelligence at present thro’ this Bay, has
obliged us to send an Express to the Council of Massachusetts,
requesting they will immediately dispatch a quick sailing Vessel with
letters to the Commissioners The only Vessel we had sent from hence for
this purpose, is now shut up in a small Creek below by the Men of War
four of five of which are now in this Bay, as we are informed, &
some of them as high as Smiths Point, mouth of Potowmack, they have
taken Buchanans ship as she went down.1
We have reason to suppose that these are the ships that lately block’d
up the Delaware, and that they are brought here by the fugitive
Guthridges’ and the Tories on the Eastern shore of Maryland. The latter
are numerous, and we apprehend have informed of a quantity of
Provisions preparing there for the Troops which they mean to assist in
getting to the Enemy.

We are doing all we can in this slow place to get armed Vessels down to
obstruct this wicked design. In the mean time would it not be highly
proper to send out immediately the Sachem or Race Horse, or both to the
Capes of Virginia to notify coming in Vessels of their danger, and also
to suppress any Tenders that they may have out to intercept Vessels
coming in, whilst they think themselves secure from interruption from
hence by the large ships covering the passage of the Bay opposite
Potowmack. Captain Isaiah Robinson is as perfectly well acquainted with
our Bay that he could in a swift sailing Vessel not only give notice to
Vessels bound in, but come in himself, suppress their Tenders, and,
regardless of the bigger Ships run into a thousand places of protection
and security where they cannot molest him, taking care of the Counties
of Somerset, Worster and an adjoining Maryland Eastern shore. If you
approve this Plan can it not be immediately
executed?2 I am inclined to think your
Bay is open now, and that it is a good opportunity to push Biddle and
the other Vessels out on the business you mention. We shall keep the
letters you sent us for France until we can get an opportunity here,
when we propose sending out the Lexington.

Bradfords’ Journal of the 29th of January contains a very accurate account
of the late Military Manouvres in the Jersies, it will be well to send
three or four copies to the Commissioners and by all means let some go
by this Express in the Packets for France.

I am dear Sir with particular Esteem, Your Affectionate & Obedient
Servt.

Richard Henry Lee

Notes:

Henry Laurens PapersSouth Carolina Historical Society

Printed in James Curtis Ballagh, The Letters of Richard Henry Lee, Volume 1, 1762 – 1778, pp. 252 – 54.

1 Archibald Buchanan’s ship Farmer, bound for France with a cargo of tobacco,
had been captured by H.M.S. Brune on January 20. See Morgan, Naval
Documents, 7:873, 1004. On 16 April the Secret Committee ordered
Treasurer Michael Hillegas to pay Buchanan “14,666 2/3 dlls, being the
valuation of the ship Farmer Capt. Dashiell charterd & insurd by
this Come. on public Acct.” Journal of the Secret Committee, fol.
127, MH-H.

2 In his 11 February reply Morris indicated that there were no cruisers
immediately available to execute this plan. However, due to reports
from the West Indies that all homeward bound vessels were heading for
the Chesapeake Bay, Morris subsequently ordered the Continental sloop
Fly, Capt. Elisha Warner, to cruise off the capes of Virginia. See
Morris to Lee, 11 February; and Marine Committee to Elisha Warner,
17 February 1777.