<br /> Lee Letter: n563

Washington and Lee University

Sender: John Henry
Recipient: Thomas Sim Lee

Dear Sir

Your two letters addressed to the Delegates were laid before Congress and
that respecting the Situation of the Maryland line referred to the
board of War, and the other to the
Admiralty.1 It is much to be lamented that
the States of Virgina. and N. Carolina have not or cannot furnish
provisions for the Troops that are sent for their protection. The State
of the army under Genl. Washington and the objects in view will leave
us little room to afford them any assistance from this quarter, indeed
if we had the provisions it would be impossible to transport them in
the present exhausted State of our Treasury. It is with pain that I
reflect, that Congress or some one who shall derive his authority from
them, must soon exert the same powers here, that the Maryland line has
else where; without it, I firmly believe it will be impossible to
prosecute the present Campaign with vigour and success; and where this
will end God only knows.

I am however in hopes that the distresses of the Southern Army will cease
on the arrival of General Gates, who has joined them before this Time.
He has full powers to appoint the necessary Staff officers and to take
every other measure for the protection of that Country. His influence
and Authority I trust will enable him speedily and fully to relieve the
wants of the Army. From this State or even from Maryland it would be
impossible to supply them; the expence would be insupportable.

What ever is the result of the deliberations of the Board of War shall
forthwith be communicated to you, which will probably be in the course
of a few Days.

It gives me pain to hear of the losses sustained by our merchants, and
still more when I reflect it is out of our power to afford them
protection. I have never lost sight of the former application, and
therefore I did not urge a report from the admiralty, knowing that if
one was made, it could not be in our
favour.2 I expected on the arrival of the
French Fleet, that their Force would be so considerable and superior to
that of the Enemy, that we should be left at liberty to employ our own
frigates to the protection of our Trade; but that we know is not at
present the case; the Minister a few days ago urged Congress to send
forward the remnant of our little Fleet to join the French squadron and
to fullfil our engagements in this respect, which the Honour and Faith
of Congress readily induced them to comply with. It is not impossible
but our ally may have a decided superiority on our coasts, when that is
the case, we shall urge Congress to a permanent resolve for assigning
part of our Frigates to the protection of the Trade of our Bay. At
present it is impossible to grant the aid requested consistantly with
our Faith and engagements to the Minister of France. When the letters
were read yesterday, Congress manifested the Strongest desire to comply
with the request of the State and I believe would have unanimously done
it had it been in their power. If the conjuncture of affairs should put
it in our power to urge the Matter with propriety our endeavour shall
not be wanting.

You are not uninformed that the number of our Fleet is reduced to four or
five Frigates and one of them in Europe and another (the Confederacy)
in this harbour, and where from the reduced State of our finances she
has been obliged to lay. She will however soon be at Sea.

The British Fleet is off the harbour of Rhode Island and they manifest an
Intention of sending land forces up the sound from NewYork; should this
be the case G. Washington has taken the necessary Measures to give them
all the aid in his power.

Walsingham has joined Admiral Rodney in the West Indies, and both Fleets
are at Sea; the combined Fleets it is supposed are destined for

You have not been kind enough to answer my two former private
letters.3 I should be always very happy to
hear from you, and to receive such information as you may think proper
to communicate; Your letter read yesterday in Congress respecting the
Flour gave great pleasure.

Give my Compliments to Mrs. Lee and such of the Ladies as hold me in
remembrance and believe me to be with the most perfect Attachment, your
Excellencys friend and hble. Servt.

J. Henry. Junr.


Receiver’s copy, Lee, Horsey, and Carroll Papers deposit (1985), Maryland
Historical Society.

1 See the preceding entry, note 1.

2 See the preceding entry, note 2.

3 Not found.