<br /> Lee Letter: n358

Washington and Lee University

Sender: Samuel Adams
Recipient: Richard Henry Lee

My dear Sir

Your very acceptable Letter of the 12th came to my hand yesterday. The
Confederation is most certainly an important Object, and ought to be
attended to & finishd speedily.1 I moved
the other Day and urged that it might then be brought on; but your
Colleague Col H2 opposed and prevented it,
Virginia not being represented. It is put off till you shall arrive;
you see therefore the Necessity of your hastening to
Congress.3

We have still further & still confused Accounts from the Northward.
Schuylers Letters are rueful indeed! even to a great Degree and with
such an awkward Mixture as would excite one to laugh in the Midst of
Calamity. He seems to contemplate his own Happiness in not having had
much or indeed any Hand in the unhappy Disaster. He throws Blame on St
Clare in his Letter of July 9th. “What adds to my Distress is that a
Report prevails that I had given orders for the Evacuation of
Tyonderoga, whereas not the most distant Hint of any such Intention can
be drawn from any of my Letters to General Sinclare or any other Person
whatever.” He adds “What could induce the General Officers to a step
that has ruind our Affairs in that Quarter, God only knows.” And indeed
Sinclares own Letter of the 30th of June dated at Ty. would induce one
to be of the same opinion, for he there says “My People are in the best
Disposition possible and I have no Doubt about giving a good Account of
the Enemy should they think proper to attack us.” Other Parts of his
Letter are written in the same spirited Stile. The General officers
blame N E for not furnishing their Quota of Troops. It is natural for
Parties to shift the Fault from one to the other; and your Friend
General Steven, who seems desirous of clearing his Countryman from all
Blame, in a Letter to your Brother says “Eight thousand Men were
thought adequate to the Purpose. They (NE) furnishd about three
thousand, for Want of the Quota the Place is lost & they stand
answerable for the consequences.” The General forgets that five of the
ten Regiments orderd from Mass. Bay were countermanded and are now at
Peeks Kill. I will give you an Abstract of the Forces at Ty & Mount
Independence the 25th of June taken from the Mustermaster General Colo
Varicks Return.

Fit for Duty of the 9 Continental Regiments Commissiond

& Noncommissiond & Staff Officers included
2738
Colo Wellss & Leonards Regiments of Militia [their time

expired the 6th of July]
637
Colo Longs Regimt of Militia [engagd to 1st of Augt] 199
Major Stephens Corps of Artillery 151
5 Companies of Artificers 178
Whitcombs, Aldrichs & Lees Rangers70
3973
Men at Out Posts not included in the Above 218
Sick in Camp and Barracks342
4533

Besides a Number of Recruits belonging to the Continental Regiments arrivd
at Ty. between the 18th & 29th of June, that are not included in
the above Abstract, General Schuyler in his Letter of the 9th of July
says, “I am informd from undoubted Authority that the Garrison was
reinforced with twelve Hundred Men at least, two days before the
Evacuation.” When the Commander in chief writes in so positive Terms,
one would presume upon his certain knowledge of Facts; but as he was
not present with his Army, let us suppose (though it does not seem
probable by the general gloomy Cast of his Letters) that he has
overrated the Numbers, and set down 967 and it would complete the
Number of 5500. Deduct the sick 342, and I am willing also to deduct
the two “licentious and disorderly” Regiments from Massachusetts who
left Sinclare, though he acknowledges they kept with him two days upon
the March, and there remaind near five thousand. Mentioning this
yesterday in a publick Assembly, I was referrd to the Generals
Information to his Council of War, who says “the whole of our Force
consisted of two thousand & Eighty nine effective Rank & file.”
But allowing this to be the Case, Is an Army the worse for having more
than one half of its Combatants Officers?

Notwithstanding Nothing is said of it in the publick Letters Genl Sinclair
writes to his private Friend that the Enemy came up with the Rear of
the retreating Army, & a hot Engagement ensued, other Accounts say
that many were killed on both sides, that our Troops beat off the Enemy
& that Colo Francis of the Massachusetts & some of his officers
were among the slain.4

I shall not write you any more Letters for I hope to see you soon.

Adieu my Friend.

SA

Notes:

File copy, New York Public Library.

1 In his July 12 letter to Adams, Lee had expressed particular concern for
forming a confederation, the work of the commissioners in Europe, and
the instructions to his brother, William, as commissioner to Prussia
and Vienna. “A proper attention being paid to the means of rendering
this Campaign successful,” Lee explained, “the next great object is
certainly the Confederation This great bond of Union, will more
effectually than any thing else, produce present strength, credit,
and success, and secure future peace and safety. Nor can any human
plan more conclusively establish American Independence. I incline to
think that this last effect of Confederation is clearly discerned by
the friends of Dependence, because it is obvious, that those
generally, who were marked foes to the declaration of independence
are the men that now thwart and delay Confederation, altho they are
obliged to act with more reserve and cautious concealment of their
true motives. These considerations should urge the friends of America
to a firm and persevering union, to finish this all important
business quickly as possible. Let the days appointed for this purpose
be devoted to that alone, and let the Green Mountain, and its Boys
too, be sunk in the red Sea, rather than be the occasion of calling
you off from the accomplishment of this momentous, and greatest of
all earthly considerations. But what occasion can there be my friend,
for such an infinity of criticism and care, about that, which is to
undergo revision by our Masters before it becomes authentic? I grant
it should be well considered, and digested with judgement; but such
excessive refinement, and pedantic affectation of discerning future
ills in necessary, innocent, and indeed proper establishments, I
cannot hear with patience.

Hitherto Congress has been greatly wanting in not giving quick intelligence
to their Commissioners in Europe of events here. You know how heavily
they, and our other friends, have complained of this neglect. If the
proper Committee does it not, I think Congress should take measures
therein. The late movements of Gen. Howe and their consequences,
appear to me sufficiently important to be notified immediately. Slow
moving France may have its pace quickned by shewing the weakness of
G.B., and removing from her yet smarting apprehensions, the dread of
British power. If Howe has been obliged to change his situation from
Continental to Insular, it will be a striking proof of this weakness.
My friend Mr. Lovell informs me that these words are to be inserted
in the latter Commissions, ‘agreeable to instructions now and
hereafter to be sent.’ I am utterly at a loss to know what good can
result from this insertion. Are the instructions to be publickly
produced, or is any business to be done? The former is without
example, and the latter is fraught with most pernicious consequences.
Indicision doubt, and perhaps fraudulent intentions may be charged
upon such a mode of procedure; nor can I think that any sensible Man
will be found to undertake a business, that must necessarily expose
him to contempt, if not to worse consequences. I incline to think
that if you wish to have this business done with propriety and
effect, it will be better to agree on a P – n Agent, and one for Vi-na – less exposed to the envy & hatred of a certain sett than your
friend the A-d-r – . I hope to be with you early in August.” Lee’s
letter is in the Samuel Adams Papers, NN, and Lee, Letters (Ballagh),
1: 307 – 9.

2 Benjamin Harrison.

3 On August 16, four days after Richard Henry Lee returned to his seat,
Congress resolved to take up the Articles of Confederation on August
18. But there is no evidence in the journals that Congress formally
resumed debate on them before October 7, 1777. JCC, 8:631, 648, 776,
779 – 82.

4 In a letter directed to James Warren, Adams this day repeated most of the
information pertaining to Ticonderoga that he discussed here with
Lee. See Warren Adams Letters, 1:343.