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General Lee to President of Congress



[Read March 4, 1776.]

New York, February 27, 1776.

SIR: Since I did myself the honour of writing to you last, Messrs˙ Price, Walker, and Bonfield, are arrived from Canada, a circumstance which I consider as very fortunate, as they are able to give the best intelligence, and communicate the necessary lights on the measures to be adopted with respect to that country. In consequence of their representations, and as the season of the year, and precariousness of the weather, will admit of no delay, I shall, without waiting for orders from the Congress, take the liberty to contract immediately for four thousand barrels of pork, and a considerable quantity of rum. I have likewise written to General Wooster, ordering him to purchase, and grind into flour, twenty thousand bushels of wheat. I have, also, engaged a company of carpenters, on terms, as it appears to me, very reasonable. The captain is to have one dollar per diem, the men half-a-dollar; but they are not only to furnish their own tools, but each man is to provide himself with a gun and bayonet, and act occasionally as soldiers. Lord Stirling has, at my request, written to engage another company, on the same terms, and to consist of the same number of men, which is twenty-five. As these terms are so moderate, and the time so pressing, I hope that the Congress will approve of the step. These are times when it is impossible, without great danger to the publick cause, to wait for formal instructions; but as I shall never lake this liberty, unless urged by necessity, and a


view to the publick service, I flatter myself I shall never incur the censure of the Congress.

There is, certainly, nothing more important, in the present circumstances of America, than giving proper encouragement to the military spirit, inciting a military ardour; and recompensing those who have acquitted themselves with zeal and valour. On this principle, sir, I take the liberty of recommending to the favour of the Congress Major Ogden, who was a volunteer with Colonel Arnold in his hazardous expedition, who was with him, and received a wound in the attack. This gentleman, by his absence, (though he was absent in the service of his country,) has been thrown out of the way of promotion in his own Province; but as there are several vacant Lieutenant-Colonelcies and Majorities in the New York battalions, I beg leave to recommend him for one of them. I have no particular connection or intimacy with the gentleman, but, merely from a motive of justice, and a conviction that it will be proper to reward men of his stamp, I venture on the recommendation. By some unfortunate accident, or mistake, a considerable list of meritorious officers, who have served the campaign in Canada, are struck out of employment. It must be submitted to the justice and wisdom of the Congress, whether it will not be right to remedy a grievance, before it is loo late, which, neglected, may be attended with very bad consequences.

I am, sir, with the greatest respect, your most obedient, humble servant,

To the Honourable John Hancock, Esquire, President of the Continental Congress.

P˙ S˙ I find myself considerably better since my last, and hope to be able to set out in two or three days, though I must confess I leave this place in its present state with no small anxiety of mind. As there are no measures taken for its security, I tremble lest the enemy should take possession of it.

You have not favoured me with an answer on the subject of Doctor Fague. The gentlemen arrived from Canada are of opinion he might be of great service there. I should think that if some Jesuit, or religieuse of any other order, (but he must be a man of liberal sentiments, enlarged mind, and a manifested friend to civil liberty,) could be found out, and sent to Canada, he would be worth battalions to us. This thought struck me some time ago, and I am pleased to find, from the conversation of Mr˙ Price and his fellow-travellers, that the thought was very far from a wild one. Mr˙ Carroll has a relative, who exactly answers the description.