<br /> Lee Letter: n604

Washington and Lee University

Sender: Theodorick Bland
Recipient: Richard Henry Lee

My dear Sr.

Yours of the 26th I received last night with a Postscript informing me of
Arnolds having bent his force towards your
River.1 If his intentions are really what he
has declared them, and he executes them it will heighten the Black of
his Character and make it approach to Miltons discription of that of
Hell a Darkness Visible. But, my dr Sr., are we to be surprized at
these things? have we not been told by the British Commrs. as early as
– – ’78, that they wd. ravage and lay waste our Towns and Coasts, and
have we made any one preparation for defending ourselves? have we good,
strong and well Constructed forts at the entrance of all our Rivers, or
at least in the most commanding and narrow passes of them, with a good
Galley or two mounting 36 pounders to flank them? have we proper boats
arranged in case of necessity for throwing men rapidly from one Side of
the River to the other? have we waggons, Carts, & draught Cattle
enrolld to be calld out in Classes as the militia are, in case of alarm
to enable an army to take the field and move with speed and
conveniency? have we a regularly organized militia of Infantry, Cavalry
& artillery, arranged under experienced Genl. officers with the
Superintendance of Arsenals and Magazines erected in convenient Places,
sufficient to arm and equip one tenth part of the Militia at a moments
warning and march them to a given Point? These preparations I had the
honor to propose to the Assembly in May last, through Col. Innis then a
Member, they were then thought unnecessary; I have now repeated them to
you with the most ardent wish that you wd use your Influence with the
next assembly to have them or something effectual adopted. No stone has
been left unturnd to procure the aid you speak of; and I have some (tho
faint) hopes that it is now executing – but I much fear that we must be
much more weakened before we have effectual aid from that Quarter.

The Revolt of the Pennsylvania line is at length finally terminated, about
1,200 remain in service but the whole are either discharged or
furloughed for a short time, that their tumultuary disposition may
subside, and some preventatives be applied to a future measure of that
sort.

The Jersey line followed their Example, but were nippd in the Bud of
Revolt, a large detachment march against them, and they were instantly
brought to unconditional Submission, their leaders hangd on the Spot,
by their followers and a thorough contrition and return to duty was the
immediate consequence. I hope mutiny has had its course and will now
subside – but does not these events strongly impress on the minds of
every well wisher to his Country that it is necessary the Citizens of
America shd. turn their thoughts from Party animosity and Private gain
to replenishing the Public Coffers with the Sinews of War and
opposition. I can hardly here help repeating two lines of a severe
Satire that has lately appeard agt. our Publick measures.

“An army naked, and unpaid,

The Public lean on foreign Aid.”

No news Authentic from Europe, but that Portugal has acceeded to the armd
Confederacy; England determined to push the War in America, spight of
every other Consideration-its Minister has a Garbled House of Commons
completely to his mind. Count Vergennes has had some communications
with Mr. A. to whom he made advances, passing over Dr. F for an
explanation of our Act of 40 for one (18 March last) in behalf as he
said of the Subjects of his master trading to America. Mr. A. fully
answered (but did not Satisfy) him in a Manly, firm and rational
manner-the Arguments of the latter were so close and conclusive in
vindication of the Justice and Judicious proceedings of the Councils of
America that the former beat the Charrades, and returnd again to the
Usual Channel of his Communication, not without some marks of
displeasure at being so unexpectedly foild. This is all the European
news; Congress have come to a resolution to demand of the States, power
to lay Duties not exceeding 5 per Ct. on all foreign Imports, to raise
a fund for a loan for carrying on the war, the necessity of which is
apparent, and that it be general is not less so. Tis for this reason
Congress desire to have the power vested in them, to avoid
procrastination & partial impositions. Genl. Parsons has lately
(25th ult) attacked the Enemies lines at N.Y., Burnt the Huts of
Delancys Corps, killd about 100, taken between fifty & Sixty
Prisoners, destroyd their Bridges of Communication over Harlaem River,
burnt their Magazines of forage, and taken two or three Hundred Cattle
and Horses with the loss of about 13 killd and as many Wounded. I have
the Honr. to be with my best respects to my Friend Yr Brother

Arthur who with yr Son is I expect by this time with you Yr. most obedt
Sert,

Theok. Bland

The above is a fact and may be relied on, as the report has been made
to Congress by the Genl.2

P.S. I have sent a full detail of a Plan of defense on the Principles
mentiond within in a letter to Genl. Nelson3
with a request that you wd Join yr forces for having it carried into
Execution if it meets your approbation.

Notes:

Receiver’s copy, Lee Family Papers, University of Virginia.

1 For Lee’s January 26 letter imploring Bland to “press every motive and
strain every nerve, to procure an adequate naval aid” for the capture
of the forces under Gen. Benedict Arnold, see Campbell, The Bland
Papers, 2:57 – 58.

2 For “the report [concerning Parson’s New York attack] . . . made to
Congress by the Genl.,” see Samuel Huntington’s first letter to
Washington, February 9, 1781, note.

3 Not found.