George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Major General Charles Lee, 7 June 1777

From Major General Charles Lee

Centurion June the 7th 1777

My Dr Sir

Multiplicity of busyness the miscarriage of letters or some accident has prevented you from doing what really is in my opinion an act of justice—I mean clearing up to the world the charge brought against Lord Drummond for a breach of Parole; after having read all the Papers relative to this subject, his letters to you, yours to him, Capt. Vanderputs and the Parole1—I declare solemnly that it does not appear to me that there is any one thing in his Lordship’s conduct which merited even the shadow of censure—the intention of the Parole in restraining him from going on board any of the Kings Ships was certainly to prevent intelligence being given of the state of the Continent—as this was manifestly the intention I cou’d almost say that if even He had gone on board the Asia voluntar[il]y altho’ the terms of the Parole wou’d not have been, literally adhered to, the spirit wou’d not have been violated, as it cannot possibly be suppos’d that He cou’d give any intelligence which wou’d have been new to Capt. Vanderput, to and from whose Ship People were passing and repassing every day—but Capt. Vanderput’s evidence puts it beyond all doubt that his Lordship did not go voluntarily but was compell’d on board.

A public charge from Persons We esteem sinks deep in the mind of a Man of sentiment and feeling. I really believe Lord Drummond to be such, and have reason to think that He has an esteem for you, at least from all I can learn He has ever spoke of you in the handsomest terms. now as it appears to me that there can be no doubt from the concurrence of evry testimony of his having adhered as scrupulously as possible to the spirit of the Parole, as the affair is of so delicate of nature, as I am acquainted with your way of thinking, I repeat that I must ascribe it rather to a miscarriage of his letters than to any other cause that You have not done him that justice which had you receiv’d ’em, I am perswaded You must have thought his due—I can perceive He is very much hurt at the charge, and his sensibility I confess encreases the good opinion I before had of him[.] not only therefore Justice to him, but let me add, My Dr General, a regard for you oblige me to wish that this affair may be clear’d up in some manner satisfactory to the Party I think injur’d: it is a duty which I know if omitted, cannot fail of giving much uneasiness hereafter to a Man of your rectitude and humanity—I must observe in addition that I cannot imagine his Lordships return after an absence of three months cou’d administer any reasons for suspicion—for He must either have remain’d in the West Indies or have returnd to some Port in N. America as He was prevented by the spirit of the Parole from going to England. indeed the terms of the Parole imply’d an obligation to return to N. York—his long absence likewise from the Continent render’d it impossible for him to furnish any intelligence of the situation of affairs—shou’d it be ask’d, why a Man in my present situation shou’d interest myself so warmly in this busyness with which I myself had no concern? I must answer that not only my love of justice, my duty as a Gentleman, and my regard for you enjoin the task, but that I really feel myself personally oblig’d to Lord Drummond, for since my confinement He has shewn a most generous humane and disinterested attention to me—in the course of conversation this busyness was accidentally brought on the carpet—as I was a stranger to the circumstances I was curious to be made acquainted with em—He submitted the papers to my perusal—I really thought him injur’d, assur’d him that it must have proceeded from mistake or the miscarriage of his letters and offer’d myself as a Volunteer Instrument to obtain some reparation—let me hear from you, My Dr General, as soon as possible, and on this subject—God preserve and bless you and send you evry possible felicity is the prayer of one who is most truly and affectionately yours

Charles Lee

As I wou’d not unnecessarily swell the packet—I have been contented with sending the letters to and from Capt. Vanderput2—which I think sufficient—This I do on the supposition that those sent, have miscarried.

ALS, DLC:GW. copy, Drummond Castle Papers, Scottish Record Office.

1For the parole that Drummond gave the New York convention in April 1776 before he sailed from New York to Bermuda, see GW to Drummond, 17 Aug. 1776, n.1; see also Hancock, 18, 26 Aug. 1776, and Drummond to GW, 19 Aug. 1776. For Drummond’s correspondence with Capt. George Vandeput of the British warship Asia, see note 2.

2Lee enclosed a copy of Drummond’s letter to Capt. George Vandeput of 4 Oct. 1776 and of Vandeput’s reply to Drummond of 7 Oct. 1776, both of which were written at New York. Drummond says in his letter: “Tho Charged in a Letter from General Washington of the 17th of August with an Infringement of Parole I have been unable notwithstanding all my Endeavours to come at the Grounds of the Accusation, till I now understand from Lord Stirling that this Charge arose from my being on Board your Ship [the Asia] at the Narrows on my Departure from this Port for Bermuda in April last—May I therefore beg you will have the Goodness to furnish me with what Circumstances you can recollect with regard to that Event” (DLC:GW). Vandeput replied: “I very well remember having had Directions from Capt. [Hyde] Parker[, Jr.,] to permit you to pass—As you were passing the Ship however for Reasons there is no occasion I should explain, I thought it proper to stop the Vessel and I sent an Officer with Orders to bring on Board whomsoever were Passengers—your Lordship I dare say must remember that on my receiving you, in order to relieve you from any apprehensions you might be under on that Score I at once told you that no Questions should be put to you with regard to Information, as I could not but suppose you to be laid under the same Engagements of Secrecy before your Departure as used to be imposed on all Persons who had Permission to leave the Town—I appologized at the same time for the Necessity I thought myself under of sending an Officer to carry the Vessel to Capt. Parker” (DLC:GW). George Vandeput (d. 1800), the illegitimate son of a British baronet, entered the Royal Navy as a midshipman in 1759, and he was promoted to captain in 1764. Vandeput commanded the Asia from 1773 to 1781, being stationed in North American waters for three years before returning to England in the fall of 1777 to refit his ship. He later commanded the Asia in the East Indies. Vandeput assumed the title of baronet on his father’s death in 1784. He was promoted to rear admiral in 1793, to vice admiral in 1794, and to admiral in 1799.

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