Front Page Titles (by Subject) TO RICHARD HENRY LEE. - The Writings of George Washington, vol. VII (1778-1779)
The Online Library of Liberty
A project of Liberty Fund, Inc.
Search this Title:
TO RICHARD HENRY LEE. - George Washington, The Writings of George Washington, vol. VII (1778-1779) 
The Writings of George Washington, collected and edited by Worthington Chauncey Ford (New York and London: G. P. Putnam’s Sons, 1890). Vol. VII (1778-1779).
About Liberty Fund:
Liberty Fund, Inc. is a private, educational foundation established to encourage the study of the ideal of a society of free and responsible individuals.
The text is in the public domain.
Fair use statement:
This material is put online to further the educational goals of Liberty Fund, Inc. Unless otherwise stated in the Copyright Information section above, this material may be used freely for educational and academic purposes. It may not be used in any way for profit.
TO RICHARD HENRY LEE.
Valley Forge, 25 May, 1778.
If any thing of greater moment had occurred, than declaring that every word contained in the pamphlet, which you were obliging enough to send me, was spurious, I should not have suffered your favor of the 6th instant to remain so long unacknowledged. These letters are written with a great deal of art. The intermixture of so many family circumstances (which, by the by, want foundation in truth) gives an air of plausibility, which renders the villainy greater; as the whole is a contrivance to answer the most diabolical purposes. Who the author of them is, I know not. From information, or acquaintance, he must have had some knowledge of the component parts of my family; but he has most egregiously mistaken facts in several instances. The design of his labors is as clear as the sun in its meridian brightness.
The favorable issue of our negotiation with France is matter for heartfelt joy, big with important events, and it must, I should think, chalk out a plain and easy road to independence. From this I hope we shall not depart, from a mistaken opinion, that the great work is already finished; nor, to finish it, adopt measures of precipitation. Great Britain, since the declaration of the King of France through the Marquis de Noailles, has no choice but war. Under their present circumstances, how they will conduct it, is a matter not so easily understood, as all their ways have been ways of darkness. That they will be under a necessity of giving up the continent, or their islands, seems obvious to me, if the accounts we have received of the French force in the West Indies be true. Halifax and Canada will, I presume, be strengthened; and, if they can afford a garrison sufficient, they may attempt to hold New York, unless every idea of subjugating America is given up, in which case their whole resentment will be levelled at France.
The enemy are making every preparation, and seem to be upon the point of leaving Philadelphia. In my own judgment, and from many corresponding circumstances, I am convinced they are bound to New York; whether by land or water, whether as a place of rendezvous, or to operate on North River, is not so clear. Our situation here, on account of the sick and stores, is embarrassing, as I dare not detach largely to harass the enemy, in case of a land movement through the Jerseys, before they have actually crossed the Delaware; and then it will be too late, as their distance to South Amboy will be much less than ours, and nothing to obstruct them. To this may be added the advantage of a day’s march, which they must gain of us. Were it not for the number of our sick (upwards of three thousand in camp), and the securing of our stores, which are covered by our present position and strength, I could take such a post in Jersey, as would make their passage through that State very difficult and dangerous to them. But the impracticability of doing this, without exposing this camp to insult and injury is well known to them; and some part of their conduct justifies a report, that, at all events, they will not aim a blow at this army before they go off.
I observe what you say respecting the recruits, or rather drafts, from Virginia. I was never called upon by the State for officers, or directed by Congress to send any to aid in the business; but, thinking such a measure might be necessary, I ordered the officers of the disbanded regiments, and such as had gone to Virginia on furlough, to call upon and receive the governor’s orders, with respect to the marching of them to camp. That something has been wrong in conducting the drafts, and assembling the men, admits of no doubt; for, out of the fifteen hundred ordered last fall, and the two thousand this spring, we have received only twelve hundred and forty-two, which is such a deficiency, that I have made a representation thereof to the State. I am, &c.