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General Washington to General Lee



Cambridge, February 26, 1776.

GENERAL LEE: I received your esteemed favour of the 14th instant, which gave me great pleasure, being impatient to hear from you. I rejoice to find that you are getting better, and could not avoid laughing at Captain Parker' s reasons for not putting his repeated threats into execution.

I take notice of your intended dispositions for defence, which I request you will lose no time in putting into execution, as, from many corroborating accounts I have received, the enemy seem to prepare for their departure from Boston; they have removed the two mortars from Bunker' s Hill, and carried them, with a great part of their heavy brass cannon, on board their ships; they have taken all the topsail vessels in the harbour into the service; they are ready watered and their sails bent. All this show may be but a feint, but if real, and they should come your way, I wish you may be prepared to receive them. If I find that they are in earnest and do go off, I will immediately send you a reinforcement from this camp, and, if necessary, march the main body to your assistance, as circumstances may require. I shall keep a good watch on their motions, and give you the speediest information possible.

Lechmere' s Point is now very strong, and I am now sending some heavy cannon thither; the platform for a mortar is preparing to be placed in the works there; another at Lambsdam, and we are making the necessary dispositions to possess ourselves of Dorchester-Hill, which must bring them out if any thing will. If they do not interrupt us in that work, I shall be confirmed in my opinion that they mean to leave the town. A little time must now determine whether they are resolved to maintain their present ground, or look out for another post. I will now return to your letter.

The accounts you give of our New York brethren are very satisfactory. I should be glad to know how many men you are likely to have, that you can depend upon remaining with you. I very much fear that the sailing of Clinton will keep back those you expected from Pennsylvania. Let me hear from you upon this and every thing else that concerns you, as soon and as often as you possibly can. I shall pay due attention to your recommendations of Captain Smyth and Captain Badlan. With respect to the Canada expedition, I beg leave to assure you


that it was not my intention to propose your going there. I only meant what I thought would happen, that the Congress would make you that proposal. I am now of opinion that you will have work enough upon your hands where you are, and I make no doubt but your presence will be as necessary there as it would be in Canada. I am glad that Colonel Ritzema is gone to Congress, and hope they will expedite an army thither, not only to preserve what we have already got, but also to possess ourselves of Quebeck before it can be reinforced from Europe, or elsewhere; it is an object of such vast importance that it will be madness not to strain every sinew for effecting that purpose. I am in some pain for our little fleet, as I am informed that the Asia and Phenix are sailed in quest of them. You doubtless had good reasons for the appointment you mention to have made; as it is temporary, it can have no bad effect.

I am, with great regard, &c˙,

To General Lee.