<br /> Lee Letter: n340_0534

Washington and Lee University

Sender: Committee of Congress
Recipient: George Washington

Sir,

In obedience to an older of Congress we do ourselves the honor to inform
your Excellency of the reasons and principles that have governed
Congress in their resolution for forming a Camp on the west side of
Delaware.1 The repeated information
that hath been received of the enemies movements, and it being the
opinion of your Excellency, as well as of many other General Officers,
that this City was the Object of such movements, rendered it proper
that means should be fallen upon, to prevent the success of such a
design, as well to guard against the bad impression that it would
certainly have on the affairs of America in general, as to give
security to the valuable Stores here collected, and which cannot
speedily be removed.

It has been considered that if the real design of the enemy should be
against this City, the Troops are here well fixed, and will be an
encouraging place of resort to the Militia of this State in their
present unfixt condition, being between their old plan of association,
and their new, but yet unexecuted, law. On the other hand, should the
design of the enemy be upon Hudsons river, or more eastward, the Troops
here may with ease reach that river, before those now at Head Quarters
can have all crossed it. But other considerations remain, and they are,
should the enemy continue in Jersey with a view to attack your Army, or
should your Excellency mean to make a decisive impression on them when
your numbers are sufficient, in either supposition. the Troops ought
not to be here. And therefore, in the whole of this business, Congress
means not, in any manner, to interfere with the designs, or to
counteract the Judgement of your Excellency, but wish you freely to
call up to Head Quarters, all, or any part of the Troops encampt here
as you shall please. It is not supposed that this will occasion any
delay, and will certainly prevent the injuries that would be derived to
the Troops, as well in health as discipline, from their entering and
remaining any time in this City.

We are, with sentiments of much esteem, Your Excellencies most obedient
humble servants,

Richard Henry Lee
Geo. Clymer
John Adams
Abra. Clark

Notes:

Receiver’s copy, John Work Garrett Library, Johns Hopkins University. Lee drafted this letter as well as another draft in the Lee Papers, American Philosophical Society. Printed in James Curtis Ballagh, The Letters of Richard Henry Lee, Volume 1, 1762 – 1778, pp. 270 – 71.

1 In response to intelligence concerning enemy troop movements, contained in
Gen. Israel Putnam’s 8 April letter, Congress appointed a committee
on the ninth to recommend measures for opposing an attack on
Philadelphia and to confer with Pennsylvania officials. The
Pennsylvania Council agreed to meet with the committee that evening,
and as a result of the committee’s recommendations several resolves,
including one for establishing a camp on the west bank of the
Delaware, were passed on the tenth and the committee was directed to
inform Washington of the reasons for Congress’ action. See JCC,
7:246 – 47, 250 – 51; and Pa. Council Minutes, 11202 – 3. Washington’s
response to this letter, in which he recommended that troops be
collected at Bristol, Pennsylvania, and forwarded to headquarters, is in
Fitzpatrick, Writings of Washington, 7:400 – 402. For Congress’
subsequent action, see JCC, 7:270 – 71; and Richard Henry Lee to
Washington, 16 April 1777.