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Richard Henry Lee to Samuel Purviance, Jr.



Philadelphia, 24th November, 1776.

DEAR SIR: You have imputed to the right cause my not answering your former letter sooner; it was indeed multiplicity of business.

Very long before your recommendation of Mr˙ Plunket came to hand, a Captain Disney had been appointed Captain of Marines onboard the Virginia, upon the recommendation of Mr˙ Stone. The Congress have determined to build in Maryland two frigates of thirty-six guns each, and I make no doubt but that one at least of these will be built at Baltimore. I suppose when the committee meets on Tuesday next, that directions concerning the building the new ships will issue to the respective States. Not a word has been yet said in Congress touching a quarrel with Portugal, nor will any such thing happen, I imagine, unless they should confiscate any of our vessels.

It will give us much pleasure to learn that Captain Nicholson is ready for sea, and I think we can furnish him from hence with one such anchor as you mention. Captain


Biddle' s frigate, Randolph, of thirty-two guns, is now completely ready, except that she wants men, which we hope hope to remedy when the vessels daily expected arrive. The Virginia and the Randolph cruising together might bring us in some of the enemy' s scattering frigates that now go about very badly manned, in juring our trade extremely. I wish, therefore, that every effort were strained to get the Virginia ready. Our enemy' s Army has been pretty busy since they retreated from the White-Plains. Already they have got possession both of Mount Washington and Fort Lee, and they talk, or the Tories talk for them, strongly of their aiming at this city. I fancy they will find some difficulty and not a litttle danger in the accomplishment of this part of their plan.

My compliments, if you please, to the Rev˙ Mr˙ Allison and my other friends in Baltimore.

If the Tories do not mend their manners, be more modest, and less noisy, they will shortly be hauled over the coals in such a manner as will make the country too hot to hold them.

I am, sir, your most obedient, humble servant,


List of new ships to be immediately undertaken: New-Hampshire, one ship of seventy-four guns; Massachusetts, one ship of seventy-four guns and one of thirty-six guns; Pennsylvania, one ship of seventy-four guns and one of eighteen guns; Maryland, two ships of thirty-six guns; Virginia, two ships of thirty-six guns.

To Samuel Purviance, Jr˙, Esq˙, Baltimore.

P˙S. November 25, 1776. — I thank you for your favour of the 23d, with its enclosures, and will answer your letter by next post, not being able now to do it with proper effect. I know we want vessels, both on charter and to purchase, in Virginia and Maryland. But more of this hereafter. General Howe seems intent on this city. R˙ H˙ Lee.