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To George Washington from Major General Charles Lee, 16 January 1776

From Major General Charles Lee

New Haven January the 16th 1776

Dr General

We have been so baffled by the weather that We only arriv’d here last night—I believe We shall find no difficulties in procuring a sufficient body of Volunteers for the N. York expedition—the unhappy accounts from Canada seem to animate these People rather than depress—indeed We have now occasion for exertion and decision—I am apprehensive that the Congress must be inspir’d by You They have just given a strong and I think unfortunate instance of indecision—Colonel Waterbury had rais’d a Regiment; the Regiment was equipp’d and ready for embarkation—They were to have landed in Oyster Bay to have attack’d the Tories in Long Island—Lord Stirling was to have attack’d ’em on the other side all this by order of Congress—when suddenly Colonel Waterbury receiv’d an order to disband his Regt and the Tories are to remain unmolested till They are joyn’d by the Kings Assasins1—Governor Trumbul like a Man of sense and spirit, has order’d this Regt to be reassemble’d—I believe it will be ready on Sunday the day on which I shall march from this Town2 I shall send immediately an express to the Congress informing ’em of my situation and at the same Time conjuring ’em not to suffer the accursed provincial Congress of New York to defeat measures so absolutely necessary to salvation3—the affairs of Canada will I suppose very soon if not instantly require a very considerable Force from this Province—neither will the circumstances of N. York admitt of it’s being too much stripp’d of Men, for which reason I shou’d think it advisable immediately to raise some additional Regiments in Massachusets Bay. Adieu, Dr General, God prosper you and the Arms of virtue. Yours most sincerely

Charles Lee

My respects to the whole Family.

ALS, DLC:GW. Lee indicated on the addressed cover that this letter was sent “Pr Mr Jennison.”

1On 3 Jan. the Continental Congress directed Col. Nathaniel Heard to march into the western part of Queens County, N.Y., with five or six hundred New Jersey minutemen and Col. David Waterbury to enter the eastern side of the county with a like number of Connecticut minutemen. The two colonels were to coordinate their movements to arrive on the same day and then proceed to disarm the Loyalists in the county, confining those who refused to comply. A week later Congress, “considering the great distance from Colonel Heard to Colonel Waterbury, [and] the difficulty of co-operating with each other,” requested Lord Stirling to furnish Heard with three companies from his regiment for the expedition and desired Heard “immediately to send an express to Colonel Waterbury ... and inform him that his service will not be required on this occasion” (JCC description begins Worthington Chauncey Ford et al., eds. Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774-1789. 34 vols. Washington, D.C., 1904–37. description ends , 4:27–28, 47–48).

2For the raising of Waterbury’s regiment, see Jonathan Trumbull, Sr., to GW, 15 Jan. 1776. The following Sunday was 21 January.

3See Lee to Hancock, 22 Jan., quoted in Lee to GW, 24 Jan. 1776, n.2.

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