<br /> Lee Letter: n340_0473

Washington and Lee University

Sender: Committee of Secret Correspondence
Recipient: Commissioners at Paris

Honorable Gentlemen

I wrote you a few lines the 7th Inst. by Monsr Coleaux & sent you the
News papers to that time; by this Conveyance I send another packet of
them under Cover to Mr. Delap at Bourdeaux. There are only two Members
of the Committee of Correspondance here at present, the rest being
absent on leave.

Genl. Howe’s army in the Jerseys still remains inactive, and greatly
distressed for want of Forage and Fresh provisions which they cannot
obtain in any tollerable plenty as our Army are posted all round them,
have removed most of the Hay, Corn & Provisions that was near
Brunswick and never suffer a Foraging party of the Enemy to stir out
but they attack them & altho’ they come out strong enough to drive
our People from their Posts very frequently, yet it has always happened
the reverse, for they are constantly driven back into Brunswick with
considerable loss of men, Horses, Waggons &c. Their situation is
disagreable and for that & other reasons I cannot think they will
be Content with it much longer, especially as desertion is become
frequent amongst their best British Troops, the Grenadiers more or less
of them come over to us every Week. You being at so great a distance
may probably think we ought to have destroyed Mr. Howe’s Army by this
time, and so we undoubtedly shou’d had we had an Army to do it, but
when it is considered that Genl. Washington has drove them from their
Cantonements on Delaware to Brunswick & confined them there the
whole winter, during which he has killed & taken between 3 &
4000 of their Men, 4 to 500 Horses, a Number of Waggons and
considerable quantities of Stores, cloathing &c, kept them pent up
in a place where they are III supplyed with provisions & other
Necessarys which has produced desertion, discontent & sickness, it
will astonish all mankind to learn that he had not during that whole
time one half their numbers in the Field & the greatest part of the
Troops he had, consisted of raw Militia that never saw a Gun fired in
anger untill opposed to this very formidable army. It is now evident to
all America that if in the beginning of this Contest we had enlisted
our army for a Number of Years or during the War, Genl Howe cou’d not
have wintered here unless as a Prisoner, but alas our army were
disbanded by the nature of their enlistments when they cou’d have been
most usefull & the militia are too much their own masters to expect
from them a steady adherence to the extream Fatigues of a long &
hard winters Campaign. They turn out for a month or six weeks, show
great Bravery whilst they stay, but curiousity once being gratifyed
& some feat performed to make a good Story at home, they become
impatient to return to their Familys & neither perswasion nor
principle can detain them. For this reason Genl Washingtons Army since
Novr last has consisted every month of fresh raw hands, a constant
shifting Scene of comers & goers, you might suppose him 10 to 15 or
20 thousand Strong by the Commissarys and Quarter Masters returns but
never 5000 by the Adjutant Generals for he never had so many at one
time with him. These constant movements of Militia and the large
Bountys & high wages given them has hurt the recruiting service
exceedingly for those that would have enlisted, by turning out as
militia for a short time have got more money than their pay &
Bounty as soldiers wou’d amount to & they are more their own
Masters. In short the Systems adopted by Congress respecting the Army
were formed without experience and have not been equal to what was
expected from them. They are now & for sometime have been
Correcting their errors, so that I hope to see a formidable army under
wise & wholesome regulations in a very short time. As the General
is now drawing all the new recruits together and as his hands are
strengthened with sufficient powers I have no doubt he will do business
with them this summer if the numbers raised are sufficient to Face the
Enemy & this I am inclined to believe will be the case. The
Garrison at Ticonderago will be strong enough to dispute the passage
there with Mr. Carleton and if you do but effect an European War to
employ the British Navy, this Country will become Free and independant
in a shorter time than cou’d have been expected. I fancy Genl & Ld
Howe have it in View to attack this City, they may possibly get
possession & if they do it will probably bring on their ruin, for
they will then raise a Nest of Hornets that they dont expect & are
taught to believe very differently.

I am most truely Gentn Your Obed hble servt.

Robt Morris


Manuscript, University of Virginia Library. Written and signed by Robert