George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Captain Henry Lee, Jr., 20 January 1778

From Captain Henry Lee, Jr.

[Pa.] Jany 20th 78.

Dr Sir

We have at length ascertained the real loss of this day’s action. Four privates belonging to the square patrole1 were taken, I am told they made brave resistance, & that some of them were badly wounded. The Quarter-master-sergeant who imprudently ran from our quarters prior to the commencement of the skirmish was also taken. The loss sustained stands thus:

Taken one sergeant. four privates. four horses.

wounded. One Lieutenant. Two privates.

By what we can learn from the people of Darby the enemy loss is as follows.

wounded One commissioned officer, One sergeant, Three privates.

dead. Three ditto.

Several horses disabled, one left dead on the road. I am much distressed with the fate of the patrole, especially for one poor fellow. He had been taken by the enemy during the last campaign, prospect of certain famine compelled him to enlist among them. Love of country urged him to desert. He enlisted with me. His youth, innocence, courage & fidelity has endeared him to me. I am convinced he will be discovered, & consequently must be hung. When we consider the cruelty exercised by British troops upon the unfortunate, I cannot view his conduct as criminal. My respect for his virtue & duty as his Captain has induced me to mention this matter. Could any possible mode of releif be devised, it would afford me true joy.

Capt. Nichols would be happy if he could be indulged with a flag to wait on Commodore Hammond. He thinks with this indulgence he could certainly negotiate the exchange for Capt. Travis.2 By the same opportunity I could convey necessarys to my faithful soldiers. Yours sincerely

Heny Lee jr

ALS, DLC:GW.

1For Lee’s explanation of the “square patrole,” see his letter to GW of 4 January.

2Capt. Andrew Snape Hamond had been left in command of the British fleet on the Delaware River after Lord Howe’s departure for Rhode Island in December 1777 (see Lord Howe to Hamond, Naval Documents description begins William Bell Clark et al., eds. Naval Documents of the American Revolution. 11 vols. to date. Washington, D.C., 1964–. description ends , 10:653–54). William Nichols, who had been captured in November 1777 (see John Clark, Jr., to GW, 8 Nov. 1777), was attempting to secure his exchange for Edward Travis (c.1750–1784) of Jamestown, Va. Travis had served as a lieutenant of the 2d Virginia Regiment from October 1775, but in August of the following year he received his commission as captain of the Virginia galley Manley, which had been under construction since April 1776. In November 1776 Travis was appointed to command the Virginia brig Raleigh, and he entered captivity in April 1777 when his ship was captured by the frigate H.M.S. Thames. After a period of imprisonment in New York, where he was supposed to be cruelly treated (see Naval Documents description begins William Bell Clark et al., eds. Naval Documents of the American Revolution. 11 vols. to date. Washington, D.C., 1964–. description ends , 9:705–6), Travis returned to Virginia by February 1779 to get married. By March 1781 he had returned to service as commander of the Virginia brig Jefferson.

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