<br /> Lee Letter: n357

Washington and Lee University

Sender: Samuel Adams
Recipient: Richard Henry Lee

My dear Freind

I wrote to you a Fortnight ago in so great Haste that I had not time to
transcribe or correct it, and relied on your Candor to overlook the
slovenly dress in which it was sent to you. You have since heard that
our Friends in Jersey have at length got rid of as vindictive and cruel
an Enemy as ever invaded any Country. It was the opinion of General
Gates that Howes advancing to Somerset Court House was a Feint to cover
the Retreat of his Battering Train, ordinance, Stores and heavy Baggage
to Amboy. I confes I cannot help yet feeling myself chagrind, that no
more has been done to diminish his paltry Army in that State. If their
Militia, among whom so great an Animation prevaild, had been let loose
upon the Enemy, who knows but that they wod. have destroyd their Army,
or at least so far have weakend it as to have put a glorious End to
this Campaign, and perhaps the War! I will acknowledge that my Temper
is rather sanguine. I am apt to be displeasd when I think our Progress
in War and in Politics is Slow. I wish to see more of an enterprizing
Spirit in the Senate and the Feild, without which I fear our Country
will not speedily enjoy the Fruits of the present Conflict-an
established Independence and Peace. I cannot applaud the Prudence of
the Step, when the People of Jersey were collected, and inspired with
Confidence in themselves & each other, to dismiss them as not being
immediately wanted, that they might go home in good Humour and be
willing to turn out again in any other Emergency. I profess not the
least Degree of Knowledge in military Matters, & therefore hazzard
no opinion. I recollect however that Shakespeare tells us, there is a
Tide in human Affairs, an Opportunity which wise Men carefully watch
for and improve, and I will never forget because it exactly coincides
with my religious opinion and I think it warranted by holy Writ, that
“God helps those who help themselves.”

We have letters from General Schuyler, in the Northern Department, giving
us an Account of untoward Situation of our Affairs in that Quarter. I
confess it is no more than I expected, when he was again intrusted with
the Command there. You remember it was urged by some That as he had a
large Interest and powerful Connections in that Part of the Country, no
one could so readily avail himself of Supplys for an Army there than
he. A most Substantial Reason, I think, why he should have been
appointed a Quartermaster or a Commissary. But it seems to have been
the prevailing Motive to appoint him to the Cheif Command! You have his
Account in the inclosed News paper, which leaves us to guess what is
become of the Garrison. It is indeed droll enough to see a General not
knowing where to find the main Body of his Arrny. Gates is the Man of
my choice; He is honest and true, & has the Art of gaining the love
of his Soldiers principally because he is always present and shares
with them in Fatigue & Danger. But Gates has been disgusted! We are
however waiting to be releivd from this disagreeable State of
uncertainty, by a particular Account of Facts from some Person who was
near the Army who trusts not to Memory altogether, but some
Circumstances may be omitted while others are misapprehended.

I rejoyce in the Honors your Country has done you. Pray hasten your Journy

Your very affectionate,

S Adams


Receiver’s copy, New York Public Library.

1 For Lee’s July 27 response to this letter, see Lee, Letters (Ballagh), 1:313 – 14.