George Washington Papers

From George Washington to Richard Henry Lee, 4 April 1776

To Richard Henry Lee

Cambridge 4th April 1776

Dear Sir,

Your favour of the 26th Ulto came to my hands last Night by the Post, but as I am upon the point of setting out for New York (by the way of Providence and Norwich) I can do little more than acknowledge the receipt of it, and thank you for the Proceedings & Ordinances of the Virga Convention which came safely to hand.1

At present, the Lakes are in an Impassable State, neither being clear of Ice, nor cover’d with such as will admit of Transportation; at present also, our Troops are at different Stages on their March from hence to New York; nor is it possible for me, till I get there, as the Congress have annexed Conditions to my sending the four Battalion’s to Canada, to tell whether they can be spared or not, as I am unacquainted with the number of Men, or strength of the Works at that place—no time shall be lost in forwarding these Battns if there is a possibility of doing it with safety; as no person can be more sensible of the importance of securing Canada than I am. A Letter of the 27th Ulto from Genl Schuyler Informs me that there are many Men now stopd at Albany on Acct of the State the Ice is in on the Lakes—I thank you for your friendly congratulations on the Retreat of the Kings Troops from Boston—It was really a flight—their Imbarkation was so precepitate—their loading so confused (after making greater havock of the King Stores than Dunbar did upon Braddocks defeat, which made so much noize)2 that it took them Eleven days to fit their Transports—adjust the Loads of them, and take in Water from the Islands in Nantasket Road, after they had fallen down there—the Coast is now clear of them except the Renown (a 50 Gun Ship) & one or two frigat⟨es⟩ which remain here for the protection of such Transports as shall be bound to this port. I pray you to make my best wishes acceptable to the good Doctr, his Lady & Family,3 &ca and believe me to be as I really am Dr Sir Yr Affecte & Obedt Hble Servt

Go: Washington

ALS, PPAmP. The cover is addressed in GW’s writing to “Richd Henry Lee Esqr. of Virginia—In Philadelphia” and is endorsed by GW, “Free Go: Washington.” It is docketed in Lee’s writing, “april 4. 1776 G.W.”

The two pages of the manuscript at the American Philosophical Society, which are numbered 189 and 190, are followed by two pages, numbered 191 and 192, on which appear respectively a postscript and an addressed cover both in GW’s writing. The addressed cover cited in the source line above appears on a fifth page, which is numbered “193 & 194.” The context of the postscript on page 191 and the docket in Lee’s writing on the cover on page 192, which reads “1775 G. Washington,” indicate that these two items are not part of the letter of this date but rather of GW’s letter to Lee of 10 July 1775 (see also Force, American Archives description begins Peter Force, ed. American Archives. 9 vols. Washington, D.C., 1837–53. description ends , 4th ser., 2:1635–37, where the postscript is printed with the letter of 10 July 1775).

The postscript, which should have been printed with the letter of 10 July 1775, reads: “P.S. We want an Hospital upon a proper Establishment, much, and a proper Director with good Surgeons to take care & charge of it—I cannot learn that these are to be provided here it therefore rests with the Congress to consider of this matter. A Mr [Robert] Bass of Philadelphia who I am told was in this way last War can give you the proper Establishment of one—I would not wish to see an expensive one set on foot, and I have no doubt of Doctr Shippen’s recommending such Gentlemen for Surgeons as he can answer for the Abilities of—Whether there is no News stirring, or whether we live out of the way of receiving it I cannot tell, but so it is that I have heard nothing of what the Parliament or Ministry are about since I left Philadelphia. I am as before Yrs &ca G. W—n.” The cover on manuscript page 192 is addressed “To Richd Henry Lee Esqr. at present in Philadelphia.”

1This letter has not been found.

2For a discussion of the destruction of military stores at Col. Thomas Dunbar’s camp during Gen. Edward Braddock’s ill-fated expedition to the Monongahela River in 1755, see GW to Landon Carter, 27 Mar. 1776, n.2.

3Dr. William Shippen, Jr., of Philadelphia was married to Richard Henry Lee’s sister Alice.

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