<br /> Lee Letter: n427

Washington and Lee University

Sender: Titus Hosmer
Recipient: Thomas Mumford

Dear Sir

I wrote You at York but had no Opportunity to send my Letter forward till
the present,1 the enclosed printed Letters
give so full an Account of the late battle and success in New Jersey I
could not deny myself the pleasure of transmitting it to you, at the
same Time I can assure you the Account they give of the Enemies loss is
modest and much within bounds, the Numbers they carried away &
disposed of in the Time of the Action which begun with a Cannonade
& skirmishing at Eleven in the forenoon and lasted in the different
Attacks untill just dark, they had leisure & opportunity to do, I
am assured by a Gentleman of Character on the spot that the numbers
buried from the Ground where Genl. Wayne attacked was upwards of Two
Hundred & Forty, that is nearly all, what fell in other parts were
taken away & buried or sunk in the morass, it was a glorious for
the Arms of the United states, an untoward Accident probably prevented
the total Ruin of Genl Clinton but as that will be the Subject of a
public Enquiry I will at present say no more about
it.2

I congratulate you most cordially on this Auspicious Opening of the
Campaign, may it close with equal Glory and success, one Circumstance
should not be omitted, that the Victory is under God to be ascribed to
the personal Address, Bravery & presence of Mind of our admired
Genl. & Commander in Chief, but General Lees present Situation
forbids a further Explanation of the matter at present, in a few Days
you will have the whole.

Accept my best Wishes for Yourself, Mrs. Mumford, Your Son (who I hope
will be soon at Liberty) & your amiable Daughter, and
believe me, your affectionate Friend,

Titus Hosmer

Notes:

Receiver’s copy, owned by Robert J. Sudderth, Jr. (1973), Lookout Mountain,
Tenn.

1 See Hosmer to Mumford, June 27, 1778.

2 This reluctance to discuss Gen. Charles Lee’s controversial conduct during
the battle of Monmouth is also found in the surviving extract of a
letter written by John Banister this day. “A few days ago,” Banister
explained to Theodorick Bland, Jr., “I wrote you an account of all
the public concerns then appearing of moment. But the inclosed will
inform you of an action, which has displayed the military abilities
of our general, in the highest point of view. Its consequences on the
affairs of America will necessarily be great. General Lee is under
great suspicions of misconduct, and bad intentions, but being under
arrest, and his trial now going on, I forbear to mention what is
related by officers, who were in the battle, and were eye- witnesses
of his retreat at the head of 5000 of the best troops in the American
army.

“The English army is supposed (not without foundation) to have been
lessened in number, from its departure out of this place until this
affair happened, between two and three thousand. Their best troops
were engaged with our army after the select five thousand had been
taken out, and in fair battle were defeated, ours keeping possession
of, and sleeping on the field.” Theodorick Bland, Bland Papers, ed.
Charles Campbell, 2 vols. (Petersburg, Va.: Edmund & Julian C.
Ruffin, 1840), 1:96.

On 1 July Washington had ordered a court-martial to try General Lee on
charges of “disobedience of orders, in not attacking the enemy on the
28th of June …, misbehaviour before the enemy on the same day,
by making an unnecessary, disorderly, and shameful retreat …,
[and] disrespect to the commander in chief in two letters.” Although
Lee hoped for speedy vindication, the court did not give its verdict
until August 12 – finding Lee guilty as charged and sentencing him to
be suspended from command for one year-and it was not until December
5 that Congress ordered this sentence to be executed. See
JCC, 11:824 26; 12:1184 – 85, 1188, 1195; and
Fitzpatrick, Writings of Washington, 12:132 – 33, 147. For discussion of
Lee’s court-martial and the charges against him, see John R Alden,
General Charles Lee Traitor or Patriot? (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State
University Press, 1951), pp. 220 – 58; and Freeman, Washington,
5:57 – 60, 89 – 90.