US Ship John Adams

Cumberland Sound

March 27th 1818




Having, attended General Lee in his last illness, I deem it my duty in conjunction with Mr Shaw, to communicate to you the melancholy intelligence of his death; which took place on Wednesday the 25th inst. in the afternoon. He was intered yesterday with all the honours which could be paid the remains of so distinguished a man. An escort of Marines, and all the officers from the squadron attended, and during the procession the flag ship fired minute guns,

He arrived at the house of Mr Shaw, who is married to the daughter of the late General Greene, from the West Indies, about two weeks since; and shortly after his arrival sent for me and gave me a very minute, & clear description of his case; for which I conjectured little could be done particularly at his time of life.

The sudden change of climate affected him very sensibly and tended to bring on, a fever of an Intermittant type, for which every thing, was done that could be devised. From his arrival he became every day feebler tho every thing was done to prevent it.

About two days previous to his death he told me was he to write home then, it would be very different from what he had written on his arrival at Cumberland. The last book he read was Elicots Journals.1 He retained his senses, and always assured all who enquered [sic], that he was free from pain. He became unable to speak on the evening of tuesday and died the following day without pain or Struggle.

It is a duty I owe to Mr & Mrs Shaw who are far-famed for their hospitality to all, and which was completely exemplified in his care to say, that they did every thing in their power to render his situation as comfortable as possible. He was beloved & venerated, as having been one of the patriots who had acted so conspicuous a part during the memorable Struggle which immortalized America. He was personally known to many of the officers, several of whom were under obligation to him, and took the greatest pleasure in any attention they could pay him.

Mr and Mrs Shaw esteem’d him as having been the intemate [sic] friend of General Greene, and consider’d themselves favour’d by his residence at their house. They considered that time alone well spent which was devoted to his service, and he frequently express’d the satisfaction which he found in being at the house of the daughter of his departed friend, where nothing, was left him to wish for but a renewal of health. The papers and effects belonging to him have been carefully packed up by Mr Shaw and the Commodore with the greatest care.

Should you feel any wish to write me be assured Sir it will afford me the greatest pleasure to communicate with you

while I remain yours &c

Wm Barnwell

Surgeon of the U S Ship J Adams


Source: George Bolling Lee Papers, Mss1 L5114b 26, Virginia Historical Society, Richmond


Transcribed by Colin Woodward, 2016 August 12



1. Andrew Ellicott (1754-1820) was an American surveyor. He was born in Pennsylvania and died in New York. William Barnwell was captain of the ship that brought Henry Lee to the plantation on Cumberland Island, Ga., owned by James Shaw.