<br /> Lee Letter: n340_0304

Washington and Lee University

Sender: Richard Henry Lee
Recipient: John Page

Dear Sir,

I am extremely obliged to you for your last favour and much pleased with
the spirit of your letter. I am as sure as of my existence that if our
large Gallies were manned, gunned, and fitted, that the navigation of
our Bay would receive no interruption.1
I wish our Government would consult their Sister Maryland about this
business, and with joint council and united strength, immediately equip
such a number of strong Gallies as to free our Bay from these piratical
incursions. Experience has proved the efficacy of these Vessels in
small waters, and in the way of surprise against the largest Ships.
They are cheaper than Ships, and rigged Ship fashion will be well
understood by our Navigators. They are the best batteries, because they
are movable ones, and the circumstance of drawing little water,
peculiarly fits them for the shallow waters on our coasts. I pray you
Sir to exert your influence to obtain the speedy use of the valuable
Vessels, the surest defence, and the cheapest we can employ. The events
of war are at a stand until our new Army can assemble. The enemies
horses are nearly all dead for want of forage, and this is withheld
from them by our feeble force, which is wisely and bravely employed to
watch and defeat every foraging party that descends the hills of
Brunswick. How unhappy it is and how disgraceful to America, that a
Continent of Freemen should suffer 6000 men determined upon their ruin,
to winter upon a hill in their Country! But yet it is so, and every
exertion of Congress, the most urgent calls from them on every part,
has been ineffectual to procure the destruction of these foes to human
freedom! For heavens sake Sir press forward our Quota, that we may
early in the Spring, or before the Winter is over, do something
effectual with these our determined enemies. That a war in Europe is
not far off, is very clear to me. The Tyrants speech strongly suggests
it amidst his fears of alarming his deluded people. We every day expect
the Vessel that carried Dr. Franklin, to return, & by her we hope
for the most agreable accounts. However, on these I would not place our
reliance.

We have means enough, if wisely improved, to secure us against every wicked
attempt to destroy our liberties. Procul a Jove, procul a fulmene. Your
Brother & Sister were inoculated three days ago, and must of course
remain here until their recovery. Congress have determined to return
Philadelphia next Wednesday. In the recess, I shall carry Mrs. Lee to
Virginia that she may be indulged with the sight of her children whom
she longs to see after 6 months absence.

Farewell dear Sir,

Richard Henry Lee

[P.S.] Remember me to all friends. Mr. Wythe is amongst my chosen few.

A number of Seamen lately put on shore from Com[modore] Hotham say that the
Men of War are greatly afraid of our Gallies. Let us cultivate this
passion by ordering our best appointed Gallies to lurk about them,
& in calms or thick weather to annoy them with all imaginable
spirit & address.

Notes:

Receiver’s copy, New York Public Library. Addressed “Honorable John Page esquire” at Williamsburg, Virginia. Printed in James Curtis Ballagh, The Letters of Richard Henry Lee, Volume 1, 1762 – 1778, pp. 263 – 65.

1 A 29 January letter in which Page expressed concern for the fate of a sloop
laden with clothing, should it venture up the bay, as well as his
27 February reply to Lee’s letter in which Page promised to try to
influence the governor and council in naval affairs, are in the Lee
Family Papers, University of Virginia Archives.