Sender: Richard Henry Lee
Recipient: Mann Page
Philadelphia 17th Augt. 1777My dear Sir,
We are not able yet to give you any account of the wandering Howe and his
fleet, save that they were seen on the 7th instant off Sinapuxen
stearing Southward. Our accounts from France say that George depends
much on the "desperate efforts that Howe & Cornwallis must make to
redeem their Bankrupt honor."1 His present
Manoeuvre seems the effort of a despairing Bankrupt. For what good can
result from having multitudes of Men & Horses confined on board
Ships at this season of the year, exposed to the torrid hell that beams
upon their heads? Gen. Washingtons forces are well placed to meet Gen.
Howes return, unless he should visit either extreme of the United
States. The main body is about 20 miles from hence on the road to
Coryells ferry on both sides of which the Carolina Troops & other
Corps (about 2000) are stationed. Sullivan with 2000 more is in the
Neighbrhood of Morris Town, & Gen. Putnam with about 5000 occupies
the Heights at Peekskill. I lately visited the Army here. It realy
makes a fine appearance. Health, discipline, and good spirits, prevail
thro the whole. I wish things lookt as well in the North, however I
hope they will soon mend in that quarter. Gen. Gates is reappointed to
the command there, and the Militia are turning out. Already Gen.
Hackerman of the N. York Militia has had an engagement with a part of
the enemy and beaten them, having killed 50 Indians on the spot.
Congress has ordered 500 Riflemen from this Army to be sent up there
immediately to check and chastise the Barbarian Auxiliaries that
Burgoyne has brought with him and who are murdering & scalping all
before them, Men, Women, & Children; without sparing those who have
taken protection & sworn allegiance to the Tyrant. Even inveterate
Tories feel the keen edge of the Scalping Knife, and the barbarous
butchery of the Tomahawk. Gens. Schuyler & St. Clair are ordered to
Head Quarters that an enquiry may be had into the loss of Ticonderoga
and its valuable Stores. Tis a shocking affair and cannot, at present,
be accounted for. Our accounts from France, late in May, do not promise
immediate war, but substantisl aid most certainly. Both France &
Spain are arming powerfully and with great rapidity. The spirit of the
former rises as its Fleet grows stronger, since we understand that the
Minister lately replied to Lord Stormont, when he said the peace could
not long continue if N. America continued to draw supplies from France,
"Nous ne desiron pas la guerre, et nous ne le craignon pas." We neither
desire War, nor fear it. The potent armaments of two such dangerous
Neighbors must infallibly check the efforts of G. Britain against us,
by putting her under a necessity of watching them, and being prepared
to defend herself. Doctr. Lee is returned from Spain and gone to the
Court of Prussia. I suppose William will soon take his place. Lord
Chatham is not dead as report made him, but it seems is better in
health than usual, and we understand a late speech of his is arrived at
N. York, in which he advises the Lords "that Peace be made with N.
America immediately and on any terms, assuring them they had no more
chance to conquer this Continent with the force they had or could get
than he would have to conquer Britain with his Crutch and that the
longer they carried on the War the more certain would be their ruin,
and the greater their disgrace." Wise and good Old Man, what pity is it
that if Kings will be allowed, they cannot be directed by such Men!
I believe Manly is certainly taken & the Fox
retaken.2 They were greatly overpowered by
superior force. My best wishes attend the family at Mansfield.
Farewell dear Sir, Affectionately yours,
Richard Henry Lee
[P.S.] Colo. Lee & Lady are well.
P.S Since neither the Northern or Southern posts of this day bring us any
account of Howes fleet I am almost sure that he is gone to Charles Town
South Carolina, which, in its present state, against such a great Land
& Sea force, cannot stand. It must fall. Curse on his Canvass
Wings. Tis an unfair advantage they take of us.
Receiver’s copy, Reciver’s copy, U.S. Naval Academy, Annapolis. Addressed:
"Man Page Junr. esquire at Mansfield near Fredericksburg in
1 A similar phrase was included in Arthur Lee’s May 13, 1777, letter to the
Committee for Foreign Affairs, which is in Wharton, Diplomatic
Correspondence, 2:319 - 20.
2 See Henry Laurens to John Lewis Gervais, 5 August 1777, note 4.