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General Lee to Colonel Reed



Camp, November 24th, 1776.

MY DEAR REED: I received your most obliging, flattering letter; lament with you that fatal indecision of mind which in war is a much greater disqualification than stupidity, or even want of personal courage: accident may put a decisive blunderer in the right, but eternal defeat and miscarriage must


attend the man of the best parts if cursed with indecision. The General recommends in so pressing a manner as almost to amount to an order, to bring over the Continental troops under my command, which recommendation or order throws me into the greatest dilemma from several considerations. Part of the troops are so ill furnished with shoes and stockings, blankets, &c˙, that they must inevitably perish in this


wretched weather. Part of them are to be dismissed on Saturday, and this part is the best accoutred for service. What shelter we are to find on the other side of the river is a serious consideration. But these considerations should not sway me. My reason for not having marched already is, that we have just received intelligence that Rogers' s corps, the Light-Horse, part of the Highlanders, and another brigade, lie in so exposed a situation as to give the fairest opportunity of being carried. I should have attempted it last night, but the rain was too violent, and when our pieces are wet you know our troops are hors du combat. This night I hope will be better. If we succeed we shall be well compensated for the delay; we shall likewise be able on our return to clear the country of all the articles wanted by the enemy. In every view, therefore, the expedition must answer.

I have just received a most flattering letter from Don Luis Venzaga, Governour of New-Orleans. He gives me the title of "General de los Estados Unidos Americanos," which is a tolerable step towards declaring himself our ally in positive terms. The substance is, that he is sensible of the vast advantages which must result from the separation to his master and nation; that he cannot positively enter into a regular system without consulting his master, but in the mean time he will render us all the service in his power. I only wait myself for this business of Rogers and company being over. I shall then fly to you; for to confess a truth,


I really think our Chief will do better with me than without me.

I am, dear Reed, yours most sincerely,