Richard Henry Lee.

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tion on these subjects. As the neighborhood of Phila-
delphia had by the enemies movements become the seat

of war, it was judged ncccooary that Congress should ad-
journ to this Town where the public business may be

attended to with -that undisturbed deliberation that its
importance demands. The Congress was accordingly
opened here on the 20- instant. As it is more than
probable that the conference with Lord Howe on Staten
Island may be misrepresented to the injury of these
States, we do ourselves the pleasure to inclose you an
authenticated account of that whole business, which the
possibility of DocT Franklins not arriving renders
proper. This step was taken to unmask his Lordship,
and evince to the world that he did not possess powers,
which for the purposes of delusion and division had been
suggested. M'Deanes proposition of Loan is accepted
by Congress and they have desired 2 millions sterling
' End of line, effaced.


to be obtained if possible. The necessity of keeping up
the credit of our paper currency, and the variety of im-
'portant uses that ' may be made of this money 'have in-
duced congress to go so far as [6 per]^ cent, but this
interest is heavy, and it is hoped you may be [able]*
to do the business on much easier terms. The resolves
of Congress [on thi] ^s subject are enclosed, and your
earliest attention to them is [desire] ^d that we may know
soon as possible of this application. Another resolve
inclosed will shew jou that Congress approve of armed
Vessels being fitted out by you on Continental account
provided the Court of France dislike not the measure,
and blank commissions for this purpose will be sent you
by the next opportunity. Private Ships of War, or
Privateers, cannot be admitted where you are, because
the Securities necessary in such cases, to prevent irregu-
lar practices, cannot be given by the Owners & Com-
manders of such Privateers. Another resolve of Congress
which we have the honor to inclose you, directs the con-
duct to be pursued with regard to Portugal. We have
nothing further to add at present, but to request that
you will omit no good opportunity of informing us how

you-pf©ceed in your mission, what events take place in
Europe by which these States may be aflFected, and that
you contrive us in regular succession some of the best
London, French, & Dutch newspapers, with any valu-
able political, publications that may concern North

We have the honor to be with great respect and es-
teem &c.

P.S. The American captures of British Vessels at
Sea have not been less numerous or less valuable than

* Ms. torn.

' Ms. torn. Supplied from the text In Wharton.,



before Doctor Franklin left us. The value of these Cap-
tures has been estimated at two millions.


[Dec 29 1776]
^l^ security civil

Ever attentive to the preservation and safety of Social -
Congress w
liberty we ah ould not have consented to the resting of
such powers in the military department -of- as those

t r us t ***[?]

which the inclosed resolves convey to the a Continental

Commander in Chief, if the situation o f our - a affairs

at this Crisis a decision & vigor
did not A require t hat deciaidn & vigor which distance
and numbers deny to numorouo Assemblies far re-
moved from each other and from the immediate seat
of war. The strength & progress of the enemy joined
to prospects of considerable reenforcement have ren-
dered it not only necessary that the American force
should be augmented beyond what Congress had be-

fore contemplated, but that it should be brought into
the field with -alt-all possible expedition. These con-
induce Congress
siderations therefore influoncf thit RnH)r to request in
the most earnest manner that the fullest influence of
your State may be exerted to aid such levies as the Gen-
eral-may-direct in consequence of the powers now given

' A. dr. L. American Philosophical Society, Lee Papers, L 241,
No. 6g. Lee, Wilson, and Adams were the committee appointed by
Congress, December 28, to prepare a letter to the States explaining the
reasons why Congress enlarged Washington's powers. The draft is in
the autograph of Richard Henry Lee.



him, -hnt that your quota of Batallions formerly fixt
may be completed and ordered to head quarters with
all the dispatch that th e prccorvation of American i n «


dependence ran dictate an ardent desire to - promote the
public -geed- happiness can dictate.


Baltimore December the 30- 1776
Honorable GE^fTL[EMpEN —


You will be pleased to receive incloscd - copies of our last
letter of the 21- instant, and of its inc[los]^ures, which
we recommend to your attention. Since that letter was
written, Gen. Wash? having been reenforced-with-by the
troops lately commanded by Gen. Lee, and by some
Corps of Militia, and oth[cr9.] ^ crossed the Delaware
with 2500 men and attacked a body of the enemy sta-
tioned at Trenton, and with the success that you will see
related in the inclosed hand bill. We hope this blow
will by

• may be followedA-w*d* others, that may leave the enemy
not so much to boast of as they some days ago expected,
and we had reason to apprehend —

Upon mature deliberation of all circumstances, Con-
gress deem the speedy declaration of France, and Euro-

* A. dr. L. by Richard Henry Lee. American Philosophical So-
ciety, Lee Papers, I. 259, No. 75. A text in Wharton, Diplomatic
Correspondence, II 240, from the clerical draft in the Department of
State, has variations and additional matter and is signed by B. Harri-
son, R. H. Lee, J. Witherspoon, and W. Hooper.

*Ms. torn.

R 941


pean assistance so indispensably necessary to secure the
independence of these States, that they have jfuthorized
you to make such tenders to France and Spain as they
hope will prevent any longer-ofdelay of an event that-th^
is judged ' so essential to the well being of N. America.
Your wisdom we know will direct you to make such use
of these powers as will procure the thin g so much -desired
on terms as much short of the concessions now offered as
possible, but [* * *]^ no advantages of this kind are
proposed -en^contemplated

desired to be contomplatod - at the risk of a delay that


A prove dangerous to the end in view. It must be very
obvious to the Court of France, that if G. B. should suc-
ceed in her design of subjugating these States, that their
inhabitants now well trained to the use of Arms, might
be compelled -agar to become instruments for making an
conquest of the French possessions in the West Indies;

which would be a sad reverse of that security, a commer-
cial benefit that would result to France from the Indepen-
den of N. America. Wn obidi - vc that Mr Dcano la the By
some accident, in removing the papers from Phil? to this
place, the Secretary of Congress has mislaid the addi-
tional instruction formerly given you, by which you were

empowered to negotiate with others povycr * than France,
We think it necessary to mention this to you, least the
paper should get into wrong hands, and because we
wish to have a copy sent us by the first good opportunity.
We observe that Mr Deane sent his dispatches for this
committee open to Mr Deane Bingham, but we have a
good opinion of that Gentleman, yet we think him rather
too young to be made acquainted with the business pass-
ing between you and us, and therefore wish this may not

'.Substituted for an illegible word erased. ' Erased, illegible.



be done in cases of much importance. The next oppor-
tunity will bring you the determination of Congress
concerning the persons that are to be sent to the Courts
of Vienna, Prussia, Spain &. the Grand Duke of Tus-
cany. In the mean time it is hoped that thro the medium
of the Ambassadors from those Courts to that of France,
you may be able to procure their friendly mediation for
the purposes proposed by Congress. One of our Con-
tinental * Vessels of 14 Guns lately met with a Kings
Sloop of War of 12 guns and after a smart engage-
ment the Sloop was brought into the Delaware — In
our last we say the number of prisoners made by the
Enemy at Fort Washington were near 3000, but the
number is fixt at 2600, and the number of West India-
men taken by our Cruisers - from that [ army ?] amounts
to 256 — Wishing you health & success, we remain
Honorable Gentlemen &c.





Gentlemen Baltimore c^ January 1777

Captain Hammond' having been detained longer than
we expected, furnishes us with an opportunity of giving

you our last

A the information we have since * received from the
Army, — thro a Committee of Congress left at Phila-

* A. L. S. by Richard Henry Lee. Ameriiran Philosophical Society,
Franklin Papers, Letters to Franklin. Benj. Harrison also signs in
autograph. The letter is printed in Hale, Frankltn in France, I. 97.

' Captain Hammond was ordered, January 2, to carry dispatches to
France in the "Jenifer.



delphia; for we have yet had no regular accounts from
General Washington.

On the 2*? instant, General Washington having re-
ceived information that the enemy were on their march
to attack him at Trenton, ordered two brigades of
militia to advance and annoy them on the road leading
from Princeton to Trenton, who falling in with the enemy
about 3 miles from the latter place, engaged them, but
being overpowered by numbers, made a retreating fight
until they joined the main body who were drawn up on
the heights west of a bridge that divides the village of
Trenton nearly in two parts. The enemy attempting
to force the bridge were repulsed with loss by a body of
men with artillery placed there to receive them. In
the mean time some batteries being opened on the
heights soon drove the enemy from that part of the
Town possessed by them. Thus the affair ended for
that evening. But General Washington having received
intelligence that Gen. Howe was in person coming up
to join his army with a strong reenforcement, directing

on the heights
fires to be made ^ to deceive the enemy, decampt at
midnight and made a forced march in order to meet M^
Howe and give him battle before he joined his main
body. About 3 miles short of Prince Town, the Van
of our Army fell in with 600 British Infantry strongly
posted behind a fence, and upon a hill, with artillery.
They were attacked, & after a smart engagement,
routed, having lost 280 killed and taken prisoners;
among whom, were one Colonel, one Major, several Cap-
tains and Subalterns were slain, and about 20 Officers
made prison[ers.] The fugitives were pursued thro
Princeton where our Army halted a whi[le.] In this
affair 6 pieces of Artillery with abundance of baggage
fell into our hands. At Princeton, it was learnt that
Gen. Howe was not with this party, but that he re-



mained at Brunswick with 3 or 4 thousand men. There
being a considerable force in the rear, and our men
greatly fatigued with their march, and their baggage
chiefly behind (it having been sent to Burlington)
the General proceeded to Sommerset Court house that
evening, a little to the Westward of the road leading to
Brunswick, and about 7 or 9 miles from that place.
Here we understand he expected to be joined by a body
of 1500 or 2000 fresh troops, and that his intention was
to attack Mr Howe in Brunswick. On friday morning,
when the enemy at Trenton missed our army they re-
turned toward Princeton, but it seems, they left 3000
Hessians behind them, who following afterwards, were
so fatigued with travel and want of food, that numbers
were left on the road, and were straggling about the
country in threes and fours. Many were taken by the
Country people and brought in prisoners, many came
to Trenton and surrendered themselves. The militia
of Jersey [scouring ?] generally, and it was thought few
of these Hessians would get back, again. This is the
present state of our information, and we hourly expect
a well authenticated account of the whole, and of much
greater successes. We shall endeavor to give you the
speediest account of what shall further come wi t h to our
knowledge from good authority. The above relation is
taken from a Gentleman who was in the action, and who
the Committee write us, is a person of sense and honor.
The General has been too much engaged to write, &
we suppose waits the final issue.

We most earnestly wish you success in your negotia-
tion, and are with perfect esteem, honorable Gentlemen,
your most obedient and very humble Servants.

P.S. In the engagement near Princeton we lost 15 pri-
vates one Colonel and Brigadier Gen Mercer a very good
Officer and a worthy Gentleman — In secret Committee.





Dear Sir, Baltimore, 9'^ January, 1777.

I have no doubt but that Mt President inclosed you
with his last dispatches the printed account of General
Washington's success at Trenton. The number of Hes-
sian prisoners there made do not fall much short of
1 100. Since that event we have had no regular account
from the army, but from a committee of Congress at
Philadelphia we have the accounts brought into Phila-
delphia by a number of persons, and believed there, in
substance as follows: The British forces stationed at
Brunswick, Trenton, and other places in New Jersey,
hearing of the success at Trenton, collected and marched
towards that place to attack our army, now strengthened
by the junction of all its detachments, and by several
corps of Militia. Gen. Washington ordered two Bri-
gades to advance on the Princeton road and interrupt the
enemies march. About 3 miles from Trenton they met
the enemy, and being attacked by a much superior force,
were compelled to retreat, which they did slowly, keep-
ing up a retreating engagement until they joined the
main body, drawn up on a high ground on this side of a
bridge that divides the village of Trenton nearly in two
parts. The enemy attempting to force the bridge were
received by Gen. Mifflin with the Philadelphia malitia
and a number of Field pieces, which drove them back
with great loss, and some batteries being now opened
on the heights commanding the enemies' part of the
town, they were soon obliged to quit it with loss. The
armies still continued posted opposite each other until

* From the text printed in William Wirt Henry, Patrick Henry,
III. 36.



midnight, when Gen. Washington (having reced. cer-
tain intelligence that Gen. Howe was on his march in
person with a large reinforcement to join his army) hav-
ing previously directed large fires to be made to deceive
the enemy, decampt, made a forced march that night


Cots F'd f








iPenny- S.^JV,







"Note. — For the sake of clearness Lee's diagram has been supple-
mented by a map of the surrounding country." See William Wirt
Henry, Patrick Henry, III. 38.

to meet Gen. Howe, met with him at a place called
Quakers bridge, gave him battle, and routed his troops,
taking from 6 to 800 prisoners. Pursuing the fugitives
he entered Princeton, where a number of officers, 6 or 7
field pieces, and the 40"" regiment were taken. The
British army that remained at Trenton knew nothing



of General Washington's designs until' they heard the
firing next morning, and then, having possessed them-
selves of the heights for some time, they retreated toward
Brunswick along the Pennytown road, a circuitous west-
ern way, leaving the place of engagement on the right
hand a good distance. This extraordinary motion, de-
notes panic, because their direct route to the scene of
action was along the road to Princetown, as thus *

The account goes on that our army was pursuing from
Princeton to Brunswick, where the enemy had some
large stores kept. We know that Gen. Heath with
above 3000 men is about Hackingsack, and Col. Ford
with 1500 Jersey militia is before him in the way to
Trenton. This is the posture we understand things to
be in, and we wait in hourly expectation of receiving
authentic intelligence of the total rout of the enemies'
army in Jersey, and their disgraceful evacuation of that
state. Thus we bid fair to derive great advantage from
what we once apprehended would injure us extremely,
the dispersion of our army. The enemy knowing we
had no army, and trusting to their Tory intelligence that
no forces could be collected, had divided their troops in
such a manner as to expose them to ruin from militia
only, or chiefly so; for excepting about 1500 Eastern
troops, the same number of Virginians, about 200 of
Smallwood's Marylanders and a broken Pennsylvania
regiment, the rest of Gen. Washington's army is militia.
Another valuable consequence will result from this suc-
cess, it will prove to our enemies that America, without
an army, is formidable in its militia. For sudden exer-
tions the militia certainly do well, but they cannot bear
the continued discipline of Camps and campaigns. This
certainly makes it of the last importance that our regular
army should be assembled with all possible dispatch,

^ Lee's diagram is here inserted, see map given on the preceding



and such you will find to be the sense of congress by
their requests to the several states for this purpose.
Our wicked enemy to freedom and all its friends are
actually preparing to try Gen. Lee by a special court
martial. For it seems that in order to be aided by a
court martial that gentleman's resignation of his com-
mission was not accepted. We have sent to remonstrate
with Mr. Howe on this subject, to demand Gen. Lee's
enlargement on his parole, and to assure that the same
infliction exactly that is applied to Gen. Lee shall
directly be applied to 5 Hessian Field officers and
Col. Campbell, their favorite engineer, who shall be
reserved for the special purpose. We have offered
6 Hessian field officers in exchange for Gen. Lee.

I heartily wish you the compliments of the season,
and am with great esteem, dear Sir, your most affec-
tionate and obedient servant.

His Excellency Patrick Henry, Esq. Governor of Virginia.

Be pleased to let the scheme of lottery be published
in our papers, that people may be prepared against the
Tickets are sent.





In Marine Committee 15- January 1777

Ordered that Mess!! Purveyance & Stewart the Con-
tinental Marine Agents in the State of Maryland be
directed to proceed immediately to provide Timbe[r]
for building the two thirty six gun Frigates ordered to

* A. L. S. by Richard Henry Lee with autograph signatures of Han-
cock and Whipple. Lenox Library, Emmet, 5763. Addressed by
John Hancock to Samuel Purviance at Baltimore.



be built in the said State, and to proceed in other re-
spects to provide materials for the completion of said
Frigates. —

The particular Dimensions shall be deliver'd you.


Dear Sir, Baltimore, i;** Jany, 1777.

I am favored with yours by Maj. Johnston, and I
should certainly have served him to the utmost of my
power in Congress, if the appointment you proposed for
Maj. Johnston had not now been in another channel.
You know Sir, that by resolve of Congress the General
is to fill up all vacancies in the Continental troops that
shall happen for six months from the date of the
resolve. I have recommended it to the Major to get
a letter from you and the council, with one from
Colonel Harrison, to the General in his favour, and if
he is very intent on success, to carry them himself. I
think this will not fail to procure him the commission
he desires, and in the mean time, the Liutenants and
Ensign may be recruiting the company. We have not
heard from Gen. Washington since the 5th instant,
when he was at Morris Town in West Jersey, about 20
miles from Brunswick where the enemy keep their head
quarters. But a Gentleman who arrived here yesterday,
and who passed through our army at Morris Town on
the 8"", says, the men were in high spirits, that he thinks
they were 12,000 strong, that they were under marching
orders, and they were supposed to be going towards
Elizabeth Town, which is between the main body of the
enemy and New York. That Gen. Heath was to join

' From the text printed in William Wirt Henry, Patrick Henry,
III. 40.



them on the 9th with between 2 and 5 thousand men.
That the Jersey miUtia had many skirmishes with the
British troops and always beat them. That he met
large bodies of militia on march to the Jersies, whence
he concluded that the enemy must either quit that state
soon, or be exposed to great danger by remaining there.
Unluckily our army consists almost entirely of Militia,
whose stay is very uncertain, and renders the speedy
coming of regular troops absolutely necessary.
I am with very particular regard and esteem dear Sir,
Your most obedient and most humble Servant.
His Excellency Patrick Henry.


Dear Sir, Baltimore, Jan'y 30, 1777.

'Tis with much pleasure I inform you, that our affairs
in the Jersies wear as favorable an aspect as we could
possibly expect. And if the militia remain with the
General until the recruits get up, I verily believe the
business of the campaign will be nearly finished for the
winter. Wonderful as it may seem, yet it is a fact, that
our great success in Jersey since the 24"" of Dec' has
been obtained by an army chiefly irregular, and much
inferiour in number to the regular force of the enemy.
And the Army that now so greatly and so ignominiously
distress the British force at Brunswick, is inferior in
numbers to the one it now confines to the Brunswick
hills. The committee of Congress at Philadelphia tell
us, a report has come there of an engagement between
Gen. Sullivan's detachment of the Army near Bruns-
wick, and a strong detachment of the enemy. The issue

* From the text printed in William Wirt Henry, Patrick Henry,
HI. 41.



not certainly known, but they say a person immediately
from Brunswick relates, that the British light horse came
in much confusion from the field of battle to that Town,
calling for a reinforcement. We therefore hope hourly
for good news from that quarter, nor are we without
hopes of a good account from N. York. We know they
were in a very defenceless situation lately, and if the
motions of Gen. Heath are not too slow, so that reen-
forcements may come from Rhode Island, or be sent
from Jersey for the defence of New York, he will go
near to free that city from the Tyrant's Troops. We
have no late news from Europe except byway of Hallifax,
where the report is, that a war between France and G.
Britain is inevitable, and the B. officers there say, "The
damn'd Rebels would keep America yet." I hope the
rightful owners will keep America, and in despite of all
the efforts of Tyranny & its tools.

Farewell dear sir, affectionately yours.

His Excellency Patrick Henry.


Baltimore, February 3. 1777.

Dear Sir,

The impossibility of getting intelligence at present
thro' this Bay, has obliged us to send an Express to the
Council of Massachusetts, requesting they will imme-
diately dispatch a quick Sailing Vessel with letters to
the Commissioners. The only vessel we had sent from
hence for this purpose, is now shut up in a small Creek
below by the Men of War four of five of which are now
in this Bay, as we are informed, & some of them as

' South Carolina Historical Society, Laurens Papers, Misc. Docs.
1 776-1 783. Copy in the autograph of Moses Young, secretary to
Henry Laurens.



high as Smiths Point, mouth of Potowmack, they have
taken Buchanans ship as she went down. We have
reason to suppose that these are the ships that lately

Online LibraryRichard Henry LeeThe letters of Richard Henry Lee → online text (page 19 of 36)