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General Lee to General Gates



Basking-Ridge, December ye 13, 1776.

MY DEAR GATES: The ingenious manoeuvre of Fort Washington has completely unhinged the goodly fabrick we had been building. There never was so damned a stroke; entre nous, a certain great man is most damnably deficient. He has thrown me into a situation where I have my choice of difficulties. If I stay in this Province, I risk myself and Army; and if I do not stay, the Province is lost forever. I have neither guards, cavalry, medicines, money, shoes, or stockings. I must act with the greatest circumspection. Tories are in my front, rear, and on my flanks. The mass of the people is strangely contaminated. In short, unless something which I do not expect turns up, we are lost. Our counsels have been weak to the last degree. As to what relates to yourself, if you think you can be in time to aid the General, I would have you, by all means, go. You will, at least, save your Army. It is said that the Whigs are determined to set fire to Philadelphia. If they strike this decisive stroke, the day will be our own; but unless it is done, all chance of liberty, in any part of the globe, is forever vanished.

Adieu, my dear friend. God bless you.