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General Lee to President of Congress



New-York, February 11, 1776.

SIR: As the North-River is now entirely clear of ice, I thought it imprudent to suffer the cannon and other stores to remain any longer upon the Battery, and in yards at the very water-edge, from whence the ships-of-war might have conveyed them at their pleasure, as it would have been impossible to have obstructed their manoevres, almost within the very muzzles of their guns; this day, therefore, I ordered the whole to be removed to the ground before the Upper Barracks; it was effected without the least opposition, or show of opposition from the ships; indeed, I even consider iheir menaces to fire upon the town as idle gasconades. Enclosed is a list of the pieces and their appurtenances.

The Mercury, frigate, the transport, and brig, are sailed; if your fleet was out, they must certainly fall into your hands.

Colonel Richmore will deliver this. I wish, sir, you would be very particular in questioning him with respect to the state of your army, of your artillery, but, above all, with regard to the reputed abilities and popularity of your principal officers. I am sensible, sir, that it is a delicate subject to put an officer under the necessity of giving his


opinion of the capacity of others, but when the safety of the state depends upon a true knowledge of these circumstances, all delicacy must be dispensed with; and it may be asserted that the salvation or perdition of America, in great measure, depends upon the management or mismanagement of Canada. You will find Colonel Richmore a very clear-headed man and intelligent soldier, and capable of giving the fullest necessary lights. He is convinced, that any number of battalions may be raised in Canada to serve out of their own country. I would submit it to the wisdom of the Congress, whether the scheme should not be immediately adopted; it would answer a thousand good purposes, which must occur to every man. Firstly, we want men; secondly, out of their own country, they are capable of being excellent soldiers; but, above all, it will be a pledge of the fidelity of the whole Province; it will engage them so far that they cannot recede.

I beg your pardon, sir, for the length, and, perhaps, incoherence of this letter, for I perceive that, from want of sleep, my head is somewhat distracted. I am in hopes of walking out. in a couple of days, and that my head will grow clear as my feet grow strong.

I am, sir, your most obedient servant,


To the Honourable John Hancock, Esq˙, &c˙, &c.

P˙ S. I have not been able to procure, (as thought and expected,) an exact list of the guns and stores this night, but will send it by the post.