<br /> Lee Letter: n340_0551

Washington and Lee University

Sender: Richard Henry Lee
Recipient: Patrick Henry

My dear Sir,

The Express who delivered me your favor of March the 28th
last1 and who went on to Jersey, has
either forgotten his promise, or not returned, because he has never
since called on me.

No person living detests more than I do, the pernicious practise of
engrossing, especially the necessaries of life. Tis begotten by avarice
or inhumanity, and deserves every kind of discouragement. I have spoken
to Mr. Morris, and he declares, that so far as he has been concerned,
his Agent was directed to purchase for him with view of foreign
commerce solely. It must deeply concern every good Man to see our Army
collect so slowly, by which instead of crushing the enemy before
reenforcements arrive to them, we are still obliged to be on the
defensive, having but 3000 to oppose to near 8000. And now they
threaten to attack this City, 9 ships of war being already in the
Delaware. The Citizens however are in good spirits & say they shall
not have the Town. In the mean time their land force remains in its old
situation at Brunswick. Two, or three days ago, they made two sorties
nearly at the same time, one party attacking our Post at Bon Brook, and
another that at Quibble Town. The latter attack was immediately
repulsed, but the former succeeded at first, so as to repel our Men
& get away 3 field pieces. But a small reenforcement coming up,
they were beaten in turn and driven off, leaving 7 dead on the Field.
We lost 5 men. I strongly incline to think that they mean only to amuse
us and divert our attention from forming an Army, until their succors
enable them to take the field and pursue to advantage their original
plan of possessing the North river, and joining with Gen. Carleton. Be
their designs what they may, it is evidently the business of every
State to exert itself for furnishing its Quota of Troops, that an Army
formidable may be collected, and sufficient to oppose every attempt. We
have now Arms and every other equipment ready for 20,000 Men and the
Hospital department is put on the most liberal and judicious plan. Some
of the best Medical Men on the Continent are called to act in it, so
that we hope this business will now be managed in the best manner and
the sick will be taken care of. A fine Ship from Nantes, with powder,
arms, & Woolens was the other day chased on shore by two or three
Frigates near the Capes of Delaware.2
The Captain, after bravely defending himself for some time in vain,
blowed up his Ship rather than let her fall into the enemies hands. He
lost his life, the rest of the Crew was saved, and what is remarkable,
a considerable part of the Cargo was driven safely on shore by the
exploding effort of the powder, and persons are now employed in
securing it. We have intelligence from London, via France, late in
Jany., by which we learn that Bankruptcies go on well, two West India
Merchants having failed for more than a million, and that the general
distress was great. The Merchants tell the Ministry that they lost one
million eight hundred thousand pounds sterling by the capture of their
Vessels last year. The same accounts tell us that the practises at New
York since the enemy got it, exceed everything described in History
unless it be the proceedings of the second Triumvirate and give
dreadful specimen of what is to be expected where power prevails. It is
certain that the refusal of the India Company on account of difficulty
and delay alone prevented the Villains from sending American prisoners
to the East Indies for Slaves.3 And
that being refused, they were on the verge of sending such of them to
Africa as were in England. Yet these are the Men, or Devils rather,
that some among us would persuade submission to! For Heavens sake let
every nerve be strained to expel them far from North America. They
contaminate the Air they breathe. Excuse the length of this letter and

believe me to be with affectionate respect, yours,

Richard Henry Lee


Receiver’s copy, Library of Virginia. Printed in William Wirt Henry, Patrick Henry,
Life, Correspondence and Speeches,
3 vols. (New York: Charles
Scribner’s Sons, 1891), 3:64. Printed also in James Curtis Ballagh, The Letters of Richard Henry Lee, Volume 1, 1762 – 1778, pp. 273 – 75. The receiver’s copy is mutilated, and missing text supplied from

1 For Henry’s 28 March letter, see ibid., 1:515.

2 The ship Success, Capt. James Anderson.

3 This information was included in Arthur Lee’s 14 February letter to the
Committee of Secret Correspondence, which is in Wharton, Diplomatic
9:270 – 71.