George Washington Papers

From George Washington to Richard Henry Lee, 15 February 1778

To Richard Henry Lee

Valley-forge Feby 15th 1778.

Dear Sir,

Your Letter of the 2d Ulto from Chantilly, inclosing Lieutt Colo. Frazers orders for the management of the Granadiers & light Infantry in an action, & upon a March, came to my hands in the course of last Month & merits my thanks, as it may be of use to such Corps, one of which (consisting of light Infantry) we are now forming.1

The Enemy are governed by no principles that ought to actuate honest Men—no wonder then that forgery should be amongst their other crimes—I have seen a Letter published in a hand-bill at New York, and extracts of it republished in the Philadelphia Paper, said to be from me to Mrs Washington, not one word of which did I ever write—those contained in the Pamphlet you speak of are, I presume, equally genuine, & perhaps wrote by the same author—I should be glad however to see & examine the texture of them if a favourable oppertunity to send them should present.2

Lord Cornwallis has certainly imbark’d for England, but with what view, is not so easy to determine—he was eye witness a few days before his departure to a scene not a little disgraceful to the pride of British valour, in their Manœuvre to Chesnut hill & precipitate return, after boasting their intentions of driving us beyond the Mountains.3

I am very glad to find that the Assembly of Virginia have taken matters up so spiritedly—but wish, instead of attempting to raise so many Volunteers they had resolved at all adventur⟨es⟩ to compleat their Regiments by Drafting4—If all the States would do this, & fall upon ways & means to supply their Troops with comfortable Cloathing upon moderate terms, & Congress would make the Commissions of Officers of some value to them, every thing would probably, go well making at the sametime some reform in the different departments of the army, nothing ever standing in greater need of it than the Quarter master’s and Commissary’s as no Army ever suffered more by their neglects. the consequence of their neglect is much to be dreaded. I am Dr Sir, Yr Most Obedt Ser⟨vt⟩

Go: Washington

ALS, PPAmP. GW addressed and signed the cover.

1Following the suggestions made in Nathanael Greene’s letter to GW of January 1778 and GW’s letter to the Continental Congress camp committee of 29 Jan., Congress resolved in its new establishment of the army on 27 May “That each batallion of infantry shall consist of nine companies, one of which shall be of light infantry; the light infantry to be kept complete by drafts from the batallion, and organized during the campaign into corps of light infantry” (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 , 11:538–39).

2For a discussion of the spurious letters attributed to GW, see note 3 of Lee’s letter to GW of 2 January.

3Lord Cornwallis left for England on 16 Dec. 1777; for the British advance to Chestnut Hill, Pa., on 4 Dec., see GW to Patrick Henry, 10 Dec., n.2.

4“An Act for speedily recruiting the Virginia Regiments on the continental establishment, and for raising additional troops of Volunteers,” passed in amended form by the Virginia general assembly on 9 Jan., did include provisions for a limited draft (see GW to James Innes, 2 Jan., n.1).

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