Washington and Lee University

Sender: Richard Henry Lee
Recipient: John Page

My 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

Notes:

Receiver's copy, Henry E. Huntington Library, HM 22609.

1 For this September 13 letter to Gov. Patrick Henry, see these Letters, 7:656.