<br /> Lee Letter: n587

Washington and Lee University

Sender: Nathaniel Peabody
Recipient: Richard Henry Lee


I have been duly honored by your agreable favour of the 24th

Ultimo, Inclosing a letter to the director
general,1 which has been delivered.

Since the 22d November, the date of a letter you mention to have received,
I have wrote two other letters,2 containing
such matters as I should be unwilling to have fallen into the
possession of some persons, whose heads and hearts, are unworthy of my
confidence, and who I fear have filch’d those letters under way, as you
make no mention of having received them.

It appears to me, Sir, your apprehensions are well founded, when you
observe, “I fear the season is much too far advanced for any decisive
operations to be attempted against New York, this Campaign” &c.,
and that your queries claim the highest attention when you farther add,
“may not the winter be most profitably employed in retaking
Charles-Town, and recovering the two southern States, from our enemies
&c.” The reasons you mention in favour of the attempt, are weighty,
and the successes, which have lately attended our Arms in that quarter
render the operations you have proposed, both for the winter &
spring, less hazardous.

The spirited exertions of your state in raising three Thousand recruits for
the Continental Army, and One thousand good western Militia, at so
critical a period, evinces a redoubled attachment to our cause, and add
much to the prospect of success in our operations in that vicinity.

I cannot quit the subject, without congratulating you, my dear Sir, on the
appointment of Major General Greene, to take the command of the
southern Army. That gentlemans great abilities in the field, his
extensive knowledge of the various departments in the Army, gives him
the advantage of almost every other General Officer in America, in
immediately reducing to order and System an Army and affairs, which at
present are almost “without form and void.”

But alass of what avail will be the exertion of the greatest Generals,
unless fully aided with men, money, and the other necessary supplies?
In the present deranged situation of our public affairs, can this aid
be furnished? Our Treasury is empty – Our Military and ordnance stores in
that quarter are much exhausted – and I fear, the resources of that
Country under its present embarrassments will prove incompetent for
those other supplies.

Your Zeal and exertion in the cause of our distressed Country on every
former occasion forbids my mentioning a single argument to induce your
utmost efforts in the present alarming conjuncture.

General Greene entertains a high opinion of your influence and abilities,
and wishes for your assistance, in support of such measures as he may
find necessary to adopt for recovering the southern states, or rather
what is more probable, to prevent the Enemy, from making further
progress, and as the General is a gentleman in whom you may place the
most unreserved confidence, not only as an Officer, but as a private
gentleman, have not the least reason to doubt but there will be a
perfect harmony, and free correspondence, between you and that
gentleman; and which I am sure will be assiduously cultivated on his

The Honorable Arthur Lee, passed through this place a few days since, on
his way to Philadelphia; but I was so unhappy as not to have the
pleasure of seing him, though I have been honored by a line from him
since his arrival there.

As the present situation of the southern States bespeak the Theatre of War,
at least for the insuing winter, I should esteem it an addition to the
obligations I should otherwise be under, by being favor’d with a letter
from you, as often as you may find oppertunity and leisure for that

With sentiments of real friendship, I have the honor to be, Sir, Your Most
Obedient And very Humble servant,

Nathl. Peabody


Receiver’s copy, Lee Papers, American Philosophical Society. In the hand of
Benjamin Brown and signed by Peabody.

1 Lee’s September 24 letter, enclosing one for the director general of
hospitals, William Shippen, Jr., is in Lee, Letters (Ballagh), 2:204 – 6.

2 No letters from Peabody to Lee for the period November 1779 to October 27,
1780, have been found.