<br /> Lee Letter: n571

Washington and Lee University

Sender: John Henry
Recipient: Thomas Sim Lee

Dear Sir

Your favour of the 26th of Aug. addressed to the Delegates I have had the
Honour of receiving. On enquiry I find that the Embargo is continued to
the 30th of this present Month in this State and to the 20th of Octr.
in Deleware.1 It has been mentioned in
Congress and thought expedient by others, that the embargo in all the
States should be taken of. The propriety of the Measure is now under
the consideration of a Comttee of Congress,2
and till they have reported, and the Determination of Congress is
known, it appears to me proper that the embargo should be continued. As
other States have continued it for a short Time Maryland I suppose will
follow their example.

The Fate of the Action on the morning of the 16 of Aug. you must have
heard. It is a melancholy and distressing blow for Maryland, and a
ruinous and destructive one to the Southern States. I wish it was in my
power to give you the Fate of our gallant Countrymen, and to relieve
the pain and anxiety of those Distressed Families who wait with a
powerful impatience to hear the Sacrifice of their dearest Connections.
But it is not in my power. Genl Gates
Letter,3 which is wrote two hundred Miles
from the Field of Battle gives no other information than, that they
were left by the militia and himself on the first fire, surrounded by a
Force infinitely their superior in Numbers: “That their Bravery is
highly to be honourd as they made as great and as gallant an opposition
as it was possible so small a Force could make against one so vastly
superior.” This account I suppose the General gives from the known and
established valor of the Troops; it could not be from his knowledge of
the Action, for he does not appear, by his Letter to have seen the
regular Troops after two o’Clock in the morning when the first
skirmish took place. As the State of Maryland was deeply interested in
this Action, I thought it my Duty to move that the Letter should be
published, but Congress determined and I now believe very wisely, that
it should not. It must be known sooner or later, and whenever it is,
you will join with me in pronouncing it a very extraordinary one. I
Shall forbear at present to make any observation lest my resentment
should carry me beyond the bounds of propriety and Justice. Col. Ramsey
who will have the Honour of delivering you this Letter will explain to
you the line of March, the order of Battle, and the State in which our
troops were left – from the last information we can collect from the
Gentelmen sent by General Gates with the Intelligence. It is believed,
for my own part I have no doubt, knowing what passed previous to the
action, that their Fate is a severe one: Tho I hope it is not so bad as
their fugitive General expresses it in the two first lines of his
Letter. “In the deepest distress and Anxiety of mind, I am obliged to
acquaint your Excellency with the total Defeat of the Troops under my
Command.”

Reports, which the two officers bring, say that many officers fell; among
the rest General Smallwood, Col. Gunby, Majr. Winder, Majr Roxburg,
Capt. Brooks (reduced to a certainty), Col Armong &c &c
&C.4 I trust this voluminous Catalogue
will considerably diminish when we have a more accurate account; some
of our officers will no doubt escape. Till then, or the return of a
Flag sent in by General Gates, we must remain in the dark. For further
information on this melancholy subject, I refer you to my friend Col.
Ramsey.

I am, Sir, with the highest respect and Esteem, Yrs,

J. Henry Junr.

Notes:

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

1 For the Maryland Council’s August 26 letter to its delegates, see Md.
Archives, 43:266 – 67. Since Maryland’s embargo law was contingent on
the continuation of the embargo in Pennsylvania and Delaware, the
Council had directed the delegates to make inquiries concerning “the
Revival of the Pennsylvania Act, and the Conduct . . . of
Delaware.”

2 Robert R. Livingston had introduced several proposals designed to bolster
the credit of the United States, among them a recommendation that the
states “repeal all embargoes and other restrictions” on trade except
those intended to prevent trade with the enemy, which were referred
to a committee on ways and means on August 22. See JCC, 17:758 – 59.

3 See Connecticut Delegates to Jonathan Trumbull, September 1, 1780, note 2.

4 That is, Gen. William Smallwood, Col. John Gunby, Maj. Levin Winder, Maj.
Alexander Roxburg, Capt. Benjamin Brooks, and Col. Charles
Armand-Tuffin, marquis de la Rouerie.