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Letter from Charles Lee to Cornelius Harnett
Lee, Charles, 1731-1782
July 07, 1776
Volume 10, Pages 659-660

[From MS. Records in Office of Secretary of State.]
Letter from General Charles Lee to the North Carolina Council of Safety.

Charlestown, July ye 7th, 1776.

Sir,

Mr Rutledge will inform you by this Express of the outrages committed by the Cherokees which must be construed as the commencement of a War.

As it is now certain that a capital and favourite part of the plan laid down by his most excellent and clement Majesty George the Third, is to lay waste the Provinces, burn the habitations and mix Men Women & Children in one common carnage by the hands of Indians; and as this part of his plan, tho' of a piece in point of humanity, is certainly more big with mischievous consequences than the rest; It appears to me absolutely necessary to crush the evil before it arises to any dangerous height—indeed if we avail ourselves of the event, it may prove a fortunate one—perhaps we ought, in policy, to have wish'd for it. We can now with the greatest justice strike a blow which is necessary to intimidate the numerous tribes of Indians from falling into the measures of the Tyrant, and as these Cherokees are not esteem'd the most formidable Warriors, we can probably do it without much risk or loss. I think, then, Sir, that without a moments delay a body of Rifle Men from your Province shou'd be immediately furnish'd forth, to act in conjunction with the South Caroliners against the lower Nation, whilst the Virginians march against the upper—I make no doubt of your being able to make a severe, lasting and salutary example of 'em.

Clinton's Army & Parkers Squadron are pretty much in the same situation as when I wrote last. They daily indeed make some alterations in the position of their land Troops from one Island to another perhaps for new air or water of which the Deserters say they are in great want; they tell us likewise that a considerable sickness prevails in the Army and greater discontents from hard duty and bad diet. The Spirit of Desertion begins to shew itself, five Soldiers came over these last two Nights, who assure us that were they not on an Island from which it is difficult to escape, two thirds of their Army would soon be with us; I am myself inclined to believe 'em. Upon the whole, when I consider the difficulties which the Enemy Generals

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have to encounter, the temper and disposition of their Troops, and the improving spirit of ours, I assure myself that the game is in our hands. God give us more grace than to shuffle it away.

I am, Sir, with the greatest respect
Your most obt humble Servant,
CHARLES LEE.