Want to save this letter now that you've found it?
It's easy - just create your own collection of letters after signing up for a free account.
I am extremely happy that there is any opening for a more comfortable establishment for poor Palfrey than his present. He is a valuable and capable man, and the pittance of a simple Aid-de-Camp-ship is wretched for a man, who has a family to support. On this principle, and in obedience to your commands, I shall send him to head-quarters without delay. I must, at the same time, confess that the loss will be irreparable to me, particularly if I am detached to Canada, of which there is the greatest probability, as I have received letters from divers members of the Congress, expressing their wishes that I should be employed in that department. Messrs. Griffin and Byrd are very good young men, but pretty much in the predicament of your Baylor. They can ride, understand, and deliver verbal orders, but you might as well set them the task of translating an Arabic or Irish manuscript as expect that they should, in half a day, copy a half sheet of orders. However, I must bustle through the difficulties, and not keep Palfrey out of the channel of a better provision. If I go to Canada, I suppose I shall be allowed secretaries, one French and one English. I do not see now it is possible to manage matters with less. Apropos., my dear General, if this is to be my province, shall you take it ill if I apply for one of my two Brigadiers, either Greene or Sullivan? It is a pleasure to have some officer about us in whom we can place confidence.
The ships of war, which were here, have been frightened away. The Asia lies betwixt Nutten's and Bedloe's Islands; the Duchess of Gordon, with his Excellency Governor Tryon, is under her stern ; the Phoenix is stationed a league below the Narrows. The Mercury and General Clinton must inevitably fall into the hands of our fleet, unless they are fast asleep. We have taken strong hold of Hell Gate, so that the passage betwixt Long Island and the continent is absolutely blocked up to the enemy. I wait for some more force to prepare a post, or retrenched encampment, on Long Island, opposite to the city, for three thousand men. This is, I think, a capital object; for, should the enemy take possession of New York, when Long Island is in our hands, they will find it almost impossible to subsist. The Jerseys are two well manned, and Connecticut, you know, will not furnish them, with any thing.
What to do with the City, I own, puzzles me. It is so encircled with deep, navigable water, that who ever commands the sea must command the town. To-morrow I shall begin to dismantle that part of the fort next to the town, to prevent its being converted into a citadel. I shall barrier the principal streets, and, at least, if I cannot make it a Continental garrison, it shall be a disputable field of battle.
Inclosed I send you a return of the good and in different pieces of cannon. The number of the bad, those, I mean, totally unfit for service, is, I believe, about sixty. As no Commissary of Stores has been appointed until this instant, it is impossible to give you a return of the other stores by this post, but you shall have it by the next. Lord Stirling is a great acquisition. He is a most zealous, active, and accurate officer.
A captain of a ship from Cadiz, who is a very intelligent person, tells us that Lord Howe and Captain Barrington, or Admiral Barrington, are appointed commissioners to propose terms to the Congress. This he had from the Consul Hardy. What d d fools the Ministry are ! How does your recruiting go on for the standing army ? Be so good as to tell Gates, to whom I shall write by the next post, that Mr. Nourse inclosed no letters for him. If little Eustace is not provided for in your army, and I should go to Canada, I think he had better be sent to me, and I will consign him to his uncle. I am got quit of my gout and fever, but remain extremely weak and tender. God preserve you, my dear General, from all disorders, at least until we have trampled Satan under our feet,
My love to Mrs. Washington and all the ladies. Adieu. Yours, most faithfully,
- General Lee
- Correspondence of the American Revolution; Being Letters of Eminent Men to George Washington, from the Time of His Taking Command of the Army to the End of His Presidency, Volume I., Jared Sparks, 1853