Sender: Richard Henry Lee
Recipient: John Page
Philadelphia 16th. Septr. 1777My dear Sir,
On the 11th instant Gen. Howe attacked our Army with his whole force on the
Brandywine about 12 miles above Wilmington and about 25 miles from this
City. The Cannonade began in the morning but the hottest of the battle
not 'till about 4 in the Afternoon. After 4 hours severe conflict our
Army retreated leaving the field with 9 pieces of Cannon to the enemy.
Our loss does not exceed 600 in all, that of the enemy, from the best
accounts, is not less than 2,000 killed & wounded. That proves
their loss to be very great, is their not having moved since the
battle, altho their Tents & heavy baggage were left with their
Ships in order to make a quick and desperate effort to gain this City:
yet they have since the fight remained inactive, and suffered Gen.
Washington to refresh his Army and return to attack them. He is now
within 8 or 10 miles of them, his Troops in high spirits, and more
eager for battle than before the late fight. We expect every day to
have a good account of Gen. Howes shattered Army, but we are preparing
for all events, by collecting reenforcements to give him a third
battle, if the second does not content him. The Virginia troops have
gained immortal honor, and the 3d commanded by Coll. Marshall, was
primus inter pares, most of the Officers of that Regiment are wounded,
& some killed. It appears that we lost the field by an unlucky
change of disposition in a critical moment occasioned by a mistaken
account of the enemies Movements. However, we have reason, upon the
whole, to rejoice & be glad, since the enemies loss is
incontestibly far greater than ours. Gen. Gates writes us that he is
advancing in full force upon Burgoyne, and that a few days, perhaps
hours he says, will determine whether the British General proposes to
risk a battle or retreat to Ticonderoga. I have no doubt it will be the
latter, if it can be effected. We have a Vessel arrived at Marble Head
from Spain with Continental Stores consisting of about 3,000 blankets,
Shoes, Hose, Hats, Stockings, Cordage, Tent cloth, Shirts, Anchors
&c. &c. &c to a considerable Amount. And a Prize wth.
12,000 bushels of Salt is carried into Boston, bound to N. York from
Liverpoole. The letters in this prize shew how completely the Ministry
have deceived the people into a believe that America must be conquered
this Campaign, in consequence of which their Merchants are speculating
to a great amount.
Farewell dear Sir,
Richard Henry Lee
P.S. I wrote to the Governor immediately after the late battle by Mr.
Johnson of Port Royal.1
Receiver's copy, Henry E. Huntington Library, HM 22609.
1 For this September 13 letter to Gov. Patrick Henry, see these Letters,