<br /> Lee Letter: n340_0563

Washington and Lee University

Sender: Richard Henry Lee
Recipient: George Washington

Your letter to the Committee was immediately laid before Congress, and in
consequence thereof, Gen. Schuyler was ordered to carry your ideas into
execution with all possible dispatch. The Troops are therefore ordered
to Bristol without delay, and thither will go all such as come from the
Southward. You have only to order them from Bristol to Head Quarters at
your pleasure. The inclosures now sent are from France by the last
Ship. The Memoir is written by one of the first Generals in France, or
in Europe, purely from views of serving the American cause, which the
Mareshal appears to love. The accounts from Nantes are taken from a
letter of Doctr. Lee to the Secret Committee in his way from Paris to
the Court of Madrid. I thought it might avail you to have the general
idea therein given of the enemies views and designs the ensuing
Campaign. In the letter signed by all the Commissioners, we learn that
the capital operations will certainly be against New England, the
exterpation of which is proposed, whilst military government &
slavery is (as they think the milder punishment) intended for the
middle and southern States.2 Conversing
lately with Mr. James Hunter of Fredericksburg, whose labors have
benefitted the public greatly, I find that the indispensable article of
iron has been greatly affected, and its production injured, by the
constant practise of inlisting the Laborers in those works, and
pressing the Teams belonging to them. There are few things more capable
of throwing distress among the people, and injuring the public affairs,
than such a procedure. I would therefore submit it to your
consideration Sir, whether (until the Legislatures can provide
compitent laws) it will not greatly remedy the evil, if you were, by
order published in all the papers, [to] forbid all Continental Officers
from inlisting persons engaged with, and actually serving in any iron
works within the United States, or from pressing any horses, teams, or
Carriages of any kind belonging to such works. I believe that this
would in great degree remedy the evil, if not totally remove
it.3

I am, with great affection and esteem, dear Sir your most obedient and very
humble servant,

Richard Henry Lee

Notes:

Receiver’s copy, George Washington Papers, Library of Congress. Addressed to Washington “at Head Quarters in New Jersey.” Printed in James Curtis Ballagh, The Letters of Richard Henry Lee, Volume 1, 1762 – 1778, pp. 276 – 77. Lee enclosed an extract of Arthur Lee’s letter of 11 February 1777 to the Committee of Secret Correspondence, written at Nance, printed in Wharton, Diplomatic Correspondence 2:266.

1 This letter was written in response to Washington’s April 12 letter to “the
committee of Congress appointed to write to him,” which was read and
acted on in Congress this day. See JCC, 7:270 – 71; and Committee of
Congress to Washington, 10 April 1777, note.

2 “The inclosures” included the commissioners’ 6 February letter and Arthur
Lee’s 11 February letter to the Committee of Secret Correspondence,
which are in Wharton, Diplomatic Correspondence, 2:261 – 65, 266 – 69.
Marshall Maillebois’ “Memoir,” which the commissioners labelled
“sentiments of some particulars useful in carrying out our war,” had
been enclosed in their letter to the committee.

3 For Washington’s rejection of this suggestion, see his April 24 letter to
Lee in Washington, Writings (Fitzpatrick), 7:462 – 65.