<br /> Lee Letter: n372

Washington and Lee University

Sender: Richard Henry Lee
Recipient: Arthur Lee

My dear Brother,

I heared with much pleasure that you were destined to the Court of Berlin,
because I think you may be able to do your Country essential services
there. The power and the magnanimity of the Prussian Monarch puts him
above apprehentions from the Court of London for pursuing measures
dictated by true generosity and the interest of his people. A Port in
the North for our Privateers, Prizes, and for the conduct of Commerce,
will much benefit both countries. It is indisputably certain that a
most extensive and mutually beneficial commerce may be carried on
between the dominions of Prussia and the United States; but it is
unfortunate for us, that whilst we are left singly to oppose the whole
force of G. Britain (young as we are in war), we are prevented from
giving experimental proofs of the benefits of our commerce, by the
impossibility of sending our products, or getting those of other
Countries. His Prussian Majesty has power, by a variety of ways, to
call away much of the British attention from us and thereby
facilitating commercial intercourse. Add to this, that the public
acknowledgement of the Independency of these States, by his Prussian
Majesty, would give dignity, and advantage to our cause, and procure
the same acknowledgement from other Powers. The Committee have written
so fully of the events of war in their public letter that I need not
add here to what they have said; unless it be to say that our continued
accounts confirm the great loss sustained by the enemy on the 4th
instant, in the battle of German Town. We understand that Generals
Agnew and Grant are dead, and that Sr. Wm Erskine is mortally wounded.
Some reports place Gen. Kephausen among the slain, and Lord Cornwallis
with the wounded. Our Army is, by reinforcements, stronger now than
before the last battle, in high spirits, and we expect will give Gen.
Howe further amusement in a short time. Suffer me here to observe a
little upon the enemies possession of Philadelphia. In Europe, where
our affairs are ill understood, perhaps it may make some noise; with
us, it is realy of little importance. When first we entered into this
war, we not only considered, but absolutely declared that we considered
our great Towns, as not defensible – But that the possession of these
would avail little towards the accomplishment of the views of our
enemies. In truth they are but spots in the great Map of North America.
But it is far from being certain that Gen. Howe will retain
Philadelphia two months. We know that during the last battle [he] had
given orders for his baggage to cross the Schuylkil, and the friends of
government, as he calls the detestable enemies of their Country, to
quit the Town. Boston was once theirs, but now no longer so. It will be
worth while to counteract the magnified falsehoods of our enemies
concerning this subject. What is become of our
brother,1 we hear nothing of him. I have
never received the Bark from Mr. Gardoqui, but you may be assured it is
extremely wanted by myself and my family. I make no doubt but you will
do the best for my boys in conjunction with their Uncle – but if they
cannot remain to be tolerably finished in France, let them be sent by
the first good opportunity to me.

I am with the most tender affection and faithful friendship yours,

Richard Henry Lee


Lee PapersUniversity of Virginia Archies

Printed in James Curtis Ballagh, The Letters of Richard Henry Lee, Volume 1, 1762 – 1778, pp. 327 – 30. Addressed to Lee, “one of the Commissioners from the United States of America to the Court of France, Paris.”

Arthur Lee wrote Count de Vergennes on 6 December 1777 enclosing extracts from this letter and from George Washington’s letter to Arthur Lee of 5 October 1777. Both extract contain alterations made by Arthur Lee.

1 That is, William Lee.