<br /> Lee Letter: n437

Washington and Lee University

Sender: Richard Henry Lee
Recipient: Adam Stephen

My Dear Sir,

I am much obliged to you for your favor of the 26 August, and for the
satisfaction you are pleased to express at knowing that I was in good
health My health is indeed not bad at this time, but I am quite worn
down with so long and constant attention to public business. I suppose
you will have heared before this reaches you, that a violent Storm
saved Lord Howe and the British fleet from the vengeance of Count
D’Estaing. This ill timed tempest shattered and dispersed both fleets
so that a very partial fighting took place between a few single Ships.
The F. Admiral lost all his Masts before he fired a gun, they were
carried away by the Storm. He returned to Rhode Island in that
condition with a 74 that had lost her foremast & Bowsprit. The rest
of his fleet safe, except the Caesar of 74 guns that has since arrived
at Boston, where the whole fleet went immediately to refit, after
touching at R. Island only. In this situation of things Gen. Sullivan
was to consider, whether to retreat, or continue to press the Seige of
Newport and risk the arrival of succors from York. Council of War
determined upon the former. The consequence was as you will see in the
paper inclosed. I should suppose that Gen. Sullivan will find no great
difficulty in effecting his retreat whilst the enemy continue sore from
their late drubbing. It appears by the last accounts from England, that
Adml. Keppel had taken two French frigates in the Channel, which he
seems to have done with fear and trembling, for he apologises for his
conduct. Whether the Duke des Chartres, who commands a superior fleet
in the harbor of Brest will admit his apology, time must discover. I
like much your ideas about the best manner of proceeding to the
westward, and will in due season avail myself of your plan.

Remember me, if you please, with affectionate respect to Greenway Court,
and do not forget my other friends in your parts.

I am, with sincere regard, dear Sir your real friend and most obedient
servant.

Richard Henry Lee
R.H. Lee

P.S. Tell Colo. Martin that I forwarded his letters to Alderman Lee, but I
am uncertain when they will reach him, or where they will find him. He
is either at the Imperial Court, or at that of Berlin.

7th. Septr. Since writing the above we have had an Express from Gen.
Sullivan with a more particular account of his action on R Island, by
which it appears that our loss was very small, 23 killed only, no
Officer of consequence killed or wounded, and his retreat to the Main
effected without any loss whatever, except the few men in the battle.
Gen. Clinton with a reenforcement of 5000 men arrived on the Island
thro the Sound few hours after our Army crossed the Water.

Six ships of 74 guns each have lately arrived at N. York from England, and
joined with the Ships formerly here are sailed Eastward in quest of
Count D’Estaing. He is safe in Boston Harbour, and we have no doubt but
that these Ships from G.B. will [be] quickly followed by a superior
force from France.

Since the R. Island expedition began, the thing stands thus – Lost by the
enemy 5 frigates, 2 sloops of War, 3 Gallies, a large number of
Transports, and their Army, 6000 on R. Island have got a severe
drubbing – On our side 23 Men killed, 211 Wounded & missing. We
brought off near 70 Prisoners with some Officers. The account of the
enemies dead not returned, but said to be very considerable.

Notes:

Receiver’s copy, Omaha Public Library, Omaha, Nebraska. Addressed: “General
Stephen, in Berkeley County, Virginia.”