<br /> Lee Letter: n340_0291

Washington and Lee University

Sender: Richard Henry Lee
Recipient: Arthur Lee

My dear Sir,

The papers that go with this to yourself and the other Commissioners, are
so full on the subject of news that it is not very necessary for me to
say much on that subject here. There scarcely comes a post but brings
us an account of some skirmish in which the enemy get beaten, and
driven back (without their forage) within their lines on the hills near
Brunswick, where their distress we know is very great. This has been a
most fatal winter Campaign to our enemies, and unless some change
happens in their favor, which cannot be seen at present, it bids fair
to be abundantly more so yet. Upon the whole, notwithstanding the
contemptible Ministerial boasts in their Gazettes, and in Parliament,
the great force they sent here has cut a most pitiful figure indeed. In
humanity they figure still worse than They do in arms. Their ravages in
the Jersies, until They were checked and driven back, beggars all
description. Rapes, Murders, and devastation marked their steps in such
a manner as would have disgraced the Savages of the Wilderness. The old
English esteem for valor seems quite done away, and in several
instances where young Americans displaid heroic spirit, and happened to
fall in to their power, they have butchered them in cold blood in a
most cruel and barbarous manner. They have been so frequently shameless
in this way, after remonstrance has been in vain made to Gen. Howe,
that the patience of our Soldiery is exhausted, and it appears as if no
more prisoners will be taken, until Mr. Howe & his people learn the
practice of humanity. I have received two letters from
[…]1 But he thinks strongly in
favor of Great Britain. Was it not the most unrelenting and cruel
persecution of us that forced us from her, and are we not compelled
upon the clearest principles of self preservation to seek from
Strangers what our kindred denied us? Must a great Continent be buried
in ruin because the people of England cannot rouse from a lethargy
which suffers the most abandoned of Men to trample upon the rights of
human nature? It is decreed above, and we are parted Forever. Every
Friendly American Nerve will now be strained to procure the active
interference of France, by which, under God, the liberty of North
America must be secured. Mr. Lee’s stewart at Green Spring (Fauntleroy)
has behaved so ill during our absence, that I have removed him, and got
a Manager from Hanover (a John Ellis) who I believe will do well. I
purchased a quantity of Oznaburgs from Philadelphia for the people this
winter, and they make their own woolen & Cotton Stuffs. I hope the
time will shortly come, when we may correspond more openly, fully, and
freely; in the mean time, cannot you send me by return of Captain
Johnson two pounds of the best Jesuits Bark prepared? You know how
necessary that medicine is for me, and I know that it is not to be had
here on any terms at present. Let Mr Lee know as much of this letter as
imports him.

The Congress have determined to return to Philadelphia in eight days from
this time. We shall have a number of exceeding fine Frigates at Sea
very soon, from 24 to 36 guns.

Farewell & send me a long letter by return of this vessel.

I am exceedingly uneasy about my poor Boys & beg of you to get them to
me in the quickest and safest manner.

Notes:

Lee PapersUniversity of Virginia Archives

Printed in James Curtis Ballagh, The Letters of Richard Henry Lee, Volume 1, 1762 – 1778, pp. 256 – 58. Endorsed “Rd. Henry Lee Agt. the English & for french Connecn. No 3.”

1 Two lines struck out and illegible.