Front Page Titles (by Subject) TO MAJOR-GENERAL CHARLES LEE. 1 INSTRUCTIONS. - The Writings of George Washington, vol. III (1775-1776)
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TO MAJOR-GENERAL CHARLES LEE. 1 INSTRUCTIONS. - George Washington, The Writings of George Washington, vol. III (1775-1776) 
The Writings of George Washington, collected and edited by Worthington Chauncey Ford (New York and London: G. P. Putnam’s Sons, 1889). Vol. III (1775-1776).
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TO MAJOR-GENERAL CHARLES LEE.1
Having undoubted intelligence of the fitting out of a fleet at Boston, and of the embarkation of troops from thence, which, from the season of the year and other circumstances, must be destined for a southern expedition; and having such information as I can rely on, that the inhabitants, or a great part of them, on Long Island in the colony of New York, are not only inimical to the rights and liberties of America, but, by their conduct and public profession, have discovered a disposition to aid and assist in the reduction of that colony to ministerial tyranny; and as it is a matter of the utmost importance to prevent the enemy from taking possession of the city of New York, as they will thereby command the country, and the communication with Canada; it is of too much consequence to hazard such a post at so alarming a crisis, since we find by his Majesty’s speech to Parliament, that, disregarding the petition of the united voice of America, nothing less than the total subversion of her rights will satisfy him.
You will, therefore, with such volunteers as are willing to join you, and can be expeditiously raised, repair to the city of New York; and calling upon the commanding officer of the forces of New Jersey for such assistance as he can afford, and you shall require, you are to put that city into the best posture of defence, which the season and circumstances will admit, disarming all such persons upon Long Island and elsewhere, (and if necessary otherwise securing them,) whose conduct and declarations have rendered them justly suspected of designs unfriendly to the views of Congress.1
You are, also, to inquire into the state and condition of the fortifications up the North River, and as far as shall be consistent with the orders of Congress, or not repugnant to them, to have the works guarded against surprises from a body of men, which might be transported by water near the place, and then marched in upon the back of them.
You will also endeavor to have the medicines, shirts, and blankets, now at New York, belonging to the ministerial troops, secured, and forwarded to this army. Captain Sears can give you particular information concerning them.2
In all other matters relative to the execution of the general plan you are going upon, your own judgment (as it is impossible with propriety to give particular directions), and the advice of those whom you have reason to believe are hearty in the cause, must direct you; keeping always in view the declared intentions of Congress.
I am persuaded I need not recommend despatch in the prosecution of this business. The importance of it alone is a sufficient incitement. I would advise a dismission of the volunteers, whose necessary expenses will be borne, so soon as the service will admit of it; and that you endeavor as much as possible at all times to be in readiness to join the army, if the exigency of our affairs here should call for it. Given under my hand, at Head-Quarters, Cambridge, this 8th day of January, 1776.1
[1 ]General Lee was just returned to camp from Newport, and had written to the Commander-in-chief;—“New York must be secured, but it will never, I am afraid, be secured by due order of the Congress, for obvious reasons. They find themselves awkwardly situated on this head. You must step in to their relief. I am sensible that no men can be spared from the lines, under present circumstances; but I would propose that you should detach me into Connecticut, and lend your name for collecting a body of volunteers. I am assured that I shall find no difficulty in assembling a sufficient number for the purposes wanted. This body, in conjunction (if there should appear occasion to summon them) with the Jersey regiment, under the command of Lord Stirling now at Elizabethtown, will effect the security of New York, and the expulsion or suppression of that dangerous banditti of tories, who have appeared on Long Island with the professed intention of acting against the authority of the Congress. Not to crush these serpents, before their rattles are grown, would be ruinous.
[1 ]See Journals of Congress, 3 January, 1776.
[2 ]Captain Sears had been most zealous and efficient among the sons of liberty in New York, and had acted a conspicuous part in that city during the excitements occasioned by the Boston Port-Bill, and afterwards. He had also been a member of the New York Provincial Congress. At this time he was in Washington’s camp, and was sent forward in advance of General Lee to promote the raising of volunteers in Connecticut.—See Life of Gouverneur Morris, Vol. i. pp. 65, 74.
[1 ]“The General thanks Major Knolton, and the Officers and Soldiers, who were under his command last night, for the spirit, Conduct and Secrecy, with which they burnt the Houses, near the enemy’s works, upon Bunkers-Hill. The General was in a more particular manner pleased, with the resolution the party discovered in not firing a Shot, as nothing betrays greater signs of fear, and less of the Soldier, than to begin a loose undirected and unmeaning Fire, from whence no good can result, nor any valuable purposes answer’d.