George Washington Papers
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From George Washington to Major Henry Lee, Jr., 20 December 1779

To Major Henry Lee, Jr.

Head Quarters Morris Town 20th Decr 1779

Dear Sir

I have been favd with yours of the 30th November and 16th Inst. The practice of trading under the cover of procuring intelligence has grown to such a height that there is an absolute necessity of putting a stop to it. To avoid giving any umbrage to the Government of the State, I would have you confine your observations to the sailing of the fleets from New York, and whenever any capital movement takes place, communicate it immediately to the president of Congress as well as to me1—Desire those who keep a look out to endeavour to distinguish the number and size of ships of War, whenever a fleet sails.

If you can find convenient and safe Winter Quarters in the County of Monmouth, I shall prefer it to your drawing off towards Burlington, as the forage in that Quarter will be wanted at Trenton, from whence we shall draw our supplies of provisions that come from the southward. If the Country where you are will afford Forage for more than your own Corps, I can reinforce you with some detached troops of Horse.2

Should the opportunity which you have long waited for present itself, I intirely confide in your prudence in the execution of the business.3 I am Dear Sir Yr most obt Servt.

P.S. Be pleased to take the first opportunity of returning the dispatches for Count D’Estaing.4

Df, in Tench Tilghman’s writing, DLC:GW; Varick transcript, DLC:GW.

1Lee apparently followed GW’s order to communicate naval intelligence directly to Congress (see his letter to GW, 29 Dec., and n.1 to that document).

2For additional instructions related to a winter encampment, see GW to Lee, 28 December.

3For Lee’s eventual attack on British forces at Sandy Hook, N.J., see his letter to GW, 16 Dec., n.3.

4Lee had been sent dispatches to assist cooperation between GW and Vice Admiral d’Estaing’s French fleet in an anticipated attack on New York City that never took place (see GW to d’Estaing, 13 Sept., n.10, and to Lee, 13 Sept.; see also GW to Lee, 10 and 25 Oct., and Planning for an Allied Attack on New York, c.3–7 Oct., editorial note).

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