<br /> Lee Letter: n494

Washington and Lee University

Sender: Richard Henry Lee
Recipient: Thomas Jefferson

Dear Sir,

I have paid due attention to your favor of April the 21st., and I believe
there would have been no difficulty in obtaining what is desired for
Baron de Geismar1had not the enemy created
the difficulties that do exist. They absolutely refuse to admit partial
exchanges, and they have lately proposed such unfair terms for general
exchange that nothing can be done in either of these ways. They will
not allow one of our Officers to come out on parole, if like permission
be granted to one of theirs, as appeared in the case of Major de
Passeren2of the Regiment of Hesse Hanau.
Upon consideration of this matter with your friend Mr. Peters, who is
one of the Board of War, we conclude the way to put this matter into
the best train will be for the Baron to apply to the British Commander
in Chief for this parole exchange, and write to Gen. Kniphausen to
support the request. That these letters be sent here to the Board of
War, and they will immediately forward them thro the Commissary of
Prisoners expressing their willingness to gratify the Baron. An
objection is raised here to gratifying this Officer without receiving
something like an equivalent from the enemy, as tending to encourage
their obstinacy in refusing a general exchange on terms of fair
equality, by which our captive Officers <suffer>.

We have no news here but what comes from Virginia. All good men are waiting
with anxious expectation to hear that our Countrymen have given these
wicked Invaders cause to repent of their undertaking.

We have been told that Colo. Hamilton of Detroit is our prisoner, made so
by the brave Colo. Clarke. I wish it may be true, and I hope the
Prisoner will be well secured, because his enmity to us, his activity,
and influence among the Indians, are equal, and all very great. My
respects to Mr. Wythe and my other friends. I am dear Sir yours

Richard Henry Lee


Thomas Jefferson PapersLibrary of Congress

Printed in Boyd, Papers of Thomas Jefferson, 2:270 – 71. Printed also in James Curtis Ballagh, The Letters of Richard Henry Lee, Volume 2, 1779 – 1794, pp. 56 – 57. Printed also in R. H. Lee, Memoir of the Life of Richard Henry Lee and his Correspondence, 2:46.

1 In his 21 April letter to Lee, Jefferson had strongly endorsed the exchange
or parole of the baron de Geismar, a captain of the Hesse-Hanau
regiment who was a Convention Army prisoner in Charlottesville, Va.
Ibid., p. 255. Col. Theodorick Bland, who commanded the guard detail
at Charlottesville, also wrote to George Washington on May 31
concerning an exchange (Washington Papers, DLC). Washington’s reply
of 28 June and his recommendation of 22 July to the Board of War for
exchange, but not parole, are in Fitzpatrick, Writings of Washington, 15:338 – 39, 459.

2 See John Fell’s Diary, 20 February 1779, note 1.