To James Bowdoin
Philadelphia Ap. 29. 1777
There is a Letter from Dr. Lee, dated Bourdeaux Feb. 20th.1 which Says that he has a Letter from a confidential Friend2 which assures him that Ten Thousand Men, were obtained in Germany, and Vessell sent for them. That these with three Thousand British were to come out under Burgoigne. That Boston would certainly be attacked. That Howe would probably move towards Philadelphia. That Ministry depended much on beginning the Campaign early, and much upon the Divisions in Pensilvania.
The Reverse of affairs may have altered their Plan. But I thought it my Duty to transmit the Intelligence, whatever may be the Amount of it.
The surest Method of averting the Blow from Boston will be to quicken the March of your whole force to Peekskill. Depend upon it, if you do that, Howe must order all the Force to join him, or he will be extirpated. I am sir with great Respect, your most obedient humble servant
RC (MHi:Winthrop Papers); docketed: “Mr. Jno. Adam’s Letter Phila. Apr. 29. 1777.”
1. A letter from Lee to the Committee of Secret Correspondence printed in Wharton, ed., Dipl. Corr. Amer. Rev. description begins Francis Wharton, ed., The Revolutionary Diplomatic Correspondence of the United States, Washington, 1889; 6 vols. description ends , 2:272–273, gives the information here related, but its date is 18 Feb. Lee did write to his brother on the 20th, and JA very likely saw that letter and confused it with the earlier one. Lee’s second letter from Bordeaux mentions twelve thousand Germans and Britons who will be sent against New England in the spring (MH-H:Lee Papers).
2. Very likely John Thornton, Arthur Lee’s secretary, who was in the pay of Lord North and furnished the Americans with false information in return for information helpful to the British (Wharton, ed., Dipl. Corr. Amer. Rev. description begins Francis Wharton, ed., The Revolutionary Diplomatic Correspondence of the United States, Washington, 1889; 6 vols. description ends , 1:539).