<br /> Lee Letter: n340_0367

Washington and Lee University

Sender: Richard Henry Lee
Recipient: George Washington

My dear Sir,

My brother Delegates are of opinion that the inclosed papers may avail you
something in settling some disputes about rank that may come before
you, and therefore it is sent.1
Congress never did anything in this matter, as the business was put
into other hands. I realy think that when the history of this winters
Campaign comes to be understood, the world will wonder at its success
on our part. With a force rather inferior to the enemy in point of
numbers, and chiefly militia too, opposed to the best disciplined
troops of Europe; to keep these latter pent up, harrassed, and
distressed – but more surprising still, to lessen their numbers some
thousands by the sword and captivity! All this Sir must redound to your
glory, and to the reputation of the few brave men under your command.
But whilst I wonder at your success, I am realy astonished at the
supineness of the people, to suffer your army to be so thin, whilst a
cruel, implacable enemy is in the Country, and have providentially put
themselves in the way of destruction, if the numbers of people that are
not far off, would turn out for the purpose! We have done every thing
in our power to hasten up the new Levies, and strengthen your hands,
but the want of arms and cloaths, with the small pox obstructs and
delays us prodigiously. Industry and patience will I hope surmount all
obstacles, and at length collect an army together that will bid
defiance to despotism, and secure the liberties of North America. About
a fortnight ago, I received a letter from London, written by a well
informed friend, which contains this paragraph and is dated Octr. 9th
last. “The war is likely to go on another year, in which case
Cheasapeak Bay will be the seat; a plan for that purpose has been laid
before Ld. Geo. Germaine & it is said is approved. The Eastern
Shore is the first object, or place of landing.” This letter reached me
just as three or 4 large Ships came lately into our Bay, and the Tory
rising on the Maryld. Eastern Shore seemed to denote the beginning of
this plan. But since, we learn that the Ships are gone & the Tories
dispersed. My Informant is however so good, that I cannot help thinking
something like a diversion, at least, will be attempted there next
Campaign. I cannot think they mean to relinquish their grand plan of
joining their Canadian with Howes army. This consideration has ever
made me wish that Ticonderoga, and the avenues leading to Canada, were
well attended to, that the vigilance and Military talents of Gen.
Carleton may be disappointed.

We are informed by our Agent in Martinique2
7th of Jany. that a Spanish General, in a Frigate bound to S. America,
called at that place in distress, sought opportunities of assuring him
of the King of Spains good will to assist these States, and that a loan
of money might be obtained from that Court. He further said that a land
and Sea force was gone to South America, where hostilities were before
that time commenced with

Portugal. The French finances are low, but the Spanish are not so, and the
opportunity is so tempting that I think a general war in Europe
unavoidable. At least, I hope so. I have sent you inclosed, the
translation of a letter from Doctr. De Bourg to Doctr. Franklin which
lately came to the Committee of Secret Correspondence. It furnishes
much useful information, and evidences the old Gentlemans strong
attachments to our cause. He is a Philosopher, a Physician, and a
friend to America-And his interest at Court very considerable.

I have now to ask your pardon for this long letter, it is against my plan
of not disturbing you, but perhaps it may be excused as I do it but
seldom.

I am at all times, and places, and upon every occasion; dear Sir

Your most
affectionate friend and obedient servant,

Richard Henry Lee

Notes:

Receiver’s copy, George Washington Papers, Library of Congress. Printed in James Curtis Ballagh, The Letters of Richard Henry Lee, Volume 1, 1762 – 1778, pp. 265 – 67.

1 An enclosed “Memorandum” listed eleven foreign officers and briefly
described their military experience and the commitments made to them.

2 William Bingham.