<br /> Lee Letter: n340_0373

Washington and Lee University

Sender: Francis Lightfoot Lee
Recipient: Landon Carter

My dear Colonel,

I was well pleased to find by yours of the 21st Jan. that you were in good
health & spirits; may you long continue so. You will no longer
accuse the Congress of timidity, when you know it has adjourned to meet
next week in Philadelphia,1 and I
assure you it is as much in Genl. Howe’s power to come there now, as it
was when we left it. He has bro’t a large reinforcement from Rhode
Island, & has now at least [     ] men in the Jerseys; Genl.
Washington, has not above 4,000, the greater part militia most of the
troops for the new Army, as yet collected, being under inoculation. Our
worthy genl. has indeed made a most glorious winter campaigne. He has
never had above 5000 men, tho three times that number have often been
under arms, marching to & from the Camp; militia like. It will
hardly be beleived in Europe, that it cou’d be contrived, with such a
handfull or raw militia, to gain such great advantages over 7 or 8000
well appointed regulars. However if Mr. Howe makes use of the present
opportunity, we may suffer a good deal. Our hope is, that the small
number & leaness of his horses, will make it difficult for him to
move his artillery; in which alone they put their trust. Indeed it will
be some time before we shall be able to take the feild, with any thing
of a respectable Army, for the militia has not only exhausted our
treasury, but plunder’d us of arms, blankets & every other
necessary which was provided for the new Army. We have many good
vessels abroad to repair the damage but it cannot be done soon; so that
we must continue for some time longer, to scramble thro’ our
difficulties. These little alarms will habituate our people to look
danger & distress in the face, for, all things consider’d, we may
think ourselves well off, if at last we are victorious after suffering
much more than we have done. I do not mean to doubt our being
victorious, but we may suffer much, unless France & Spain give us a
little respite. This we have some reason to expect, for our last
intelligence was from our Agent at Martinique, a large Spanish armament
was gone to S. America. The Genl. put into Martinique & inform’d
him that he might be assured hostilities were by that time commenced
against the Portuguese. He often took occasion to assure him of the
friendship of his Master for the American States, & that he wou’d
assist them in any manner that might be most serviceable. The Agent
likewise saw a Letr. from the K. of France to the Genl. of the Islands,
who had some time before sollicited leave to return home; in which the
King conjures him, by his regard for his Country & love of Him, to
remain there to take the command of his Army which wou’d soon require
an Officer of the greatest abilities. We soon expect authentic
intelligence from France, which will enable us to judge with some
certainty of this matter.

I hope you will continue vigourously to counteract the despondency, which I
am sorry to hear you say, prevails in Virginia. She is consider’d as
the most spirited state in the Union, & I hope will maintain the
character her Sons have acquired immortal honor abroad; ‘twou’d be a
pity, it shd. be tarnished by any timidity at home.

Goddard you will see has published your paper, I wish it may have a proper
influence upon whom it may concern. He shall send you his Gazette. As I
suppose you cannot have the benefit of the papers I send to Mt. Airy,
as usual, I have sent you several in which you will find many things to
please & divert you. Genl. Lee lately wrote to Congress, desiring a
comtee to confer with him on his & public affairs. It was
consider’d as a sneaking trick of Howe’s, to hold out the delusive idea
of treaty & reconciliation & thereby throw a langour upon our
preparation; and therefore instantly & unanimously
rejected.2 But the tories are making
their use of it, by asserting that honorable terms of peace have been
offer’d us, but surely our people will not always continue to be the
dupes of these infamous wretches. Our best respects to Mr C., Lady
& family. Adieu my dear Col.Francis Lightfoot Lee

Notes:

Receiver’s copy, John Work Garrett Library, Johns Hopkins University.

1 Lee apparently did not return immediately to Philadelphia. In his March 24
letter to Robert Purviance, written from Annapolis, Lee noted that
“tomorrow I set off for Philadelphia.” Gratz Collection, PHi. And
according to his accounts with the Commonwealth of Virginia, he next
attended Congress on April 2, 1777. Emmet Collection, NN.

2 See Thomas Burke’s Notes of Debates, February 21, 1777.