George Washington Papers
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To George Washington from Major General Charles Lee, 15 January 1776

From Major General Charles Lee

Hartford January the 15th 177[6]

Dr General

Major French whom I have met with at Hartford, is extremely solicitous for permission to return home, as He is confident that his whole fortunes depend upon his being immediately on the spot with his Friends at this instant as He is, I believe, a Man of strict honour his Parole not to serve for a given time against the Freedom of America wou’d be sufficient security—and as He has a Family to provide for it wou’d certainly be humane and charitable to indulge him, nor can I see any inconvenience which wou’d attend the indulgence—there may be some objections which do not perhaps occur to me, but I cou’d wish for my own part that as so much depends upon it, He might be gratifyd. however I beg You will excuse my submitting the matter to your consideration.1 I am, Dr General, Your most obedt humble, Servt

Charles Lee

ALS, DLC:GW. Lee inadvertently dated this letter 1775.

1For Christopher French’s previous requests for release from captivity, see French to GW, 15 Aug., 3, 18 Sept., 9 Oct., 13 Nov., and GW to French, 31 Aug., 26 Sept., 19, 25 Oct. 1775. On 10 Feb. 1776 someone at GW’s headquarters, probably George Lewis, wrote to French: “Your repeated Letters to General Gates desireing Liberty to go to Irland on your Parole were Laid before His Excellency—I have it in command from him to inform you—that he does not think himself Authorized to grant Licence to any one to depart this Continent—that power is Lodged only in the hands of the Congress—I am Also commanded to tell you that the General is Surprized a Gentleman of Major French’s good sense & Knowledge should make such a request—Let him compare his Situation with that of such Gentlemen of ours who by the fortune of war have fallen into the hands of their Enemy—what has been their treatment? thrown into a Loathsome prison and afterwards Sent in Irons to England[.] I repeat—Let the Major Compare his treatment with theirs & then say whether he has cause to repine at his fate” (LB, in George Lewis’s writing, DLC:GW). French escaped from Hartford in November 1776, and on 30 Jan. 1777 he took command of the Queen’s Rangers.

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