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Letter from Charles Lee to George Washington
Lee, Charles, 1731-1782
February 05, 1776
Volume 10, Pages 430-431

[Reprinted from the American Archives. Vol. 4. P. 942]
Letter from General Charles Lee to General Washington.


New York, February 5th, 1776.

My Dear General:

I arrived here yesterday, but not without some difficulty. My disorder increased rather than diminished, so that I was under the necessity of being carried in a litter a considerable part of the way.

I consider it as a piece of the greatest good fortune that the Congress have detached a Committee to this place; otherwise I should have made a most ridiculous figure, besides bringing upon myself the enmity of the whole Province. My hands were effectually tied up from taking any steps necessary for the publick service, by the late resolve of the Congress, putting every detachment to the Continental forces under the command of the Provincial Congress where such detachment is.

I should apprize you that General Clinton arrived almost at the same instant with myself. He has brought no troops with him, and pledges his honor that none are coming. He says it is merely a visit to his friend Tryon. If it is really so, it is the most whimsical

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piece of civility I ever heard of. He informs us that his intention is for North Carolina, where he expects five regiments from England; that he only brought two companies of light infantry from Boston. This is certainly a droll way of proceeding; to communicate his full plan to the enemy is too novel to be credited.

The Congress Committee, a certain number of the Committee of Safety, and your humble servant, have had two Conferences. The result of these conferences is such as will agreeably surprise you. It is in the first place, agreed, and justly, that to fortify the town against shipping is impracticable; but we are to fortify lodgements, in some commanding part of the City, for two thousand men. We are to erect enclosed batteries on both sides the water, near Hellgate, which will answer the double purpose of securing the town against piracies through the Sound, and secure our communication with Long Island, now become a more capital point than ever, as it is determined to form a strong fortified camp of three thousand men in that island, immediately opposite to New York. The pass in the Highlands is to be made as respectable as possible, and guarded by a battalion. In short I think the plan judicious and complete. The two brass pieces and other articles will be sent down as you require. You have heard of the fate of the cannon near King's Bridge.

As I write with pain, you will excuse my abrupt conclusion.

Yours, dear General,
C. LEE.

P. S. My love to Gates, and the rest female and male.