Washington, George, 1732-1799. The writings of George Washington from the original manuscript sources: Volume 4
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To MAJOR GENERAL CHARLES LEE Cambridge, January 23, 1776.

    Sir: I received your Favour of the 16th. Instt. and am exceedingly sorry to hear, that Congress countermanded the embarkation of the two Regiments, intended against the Tories on Long Island. 38 They, I doubt not, had their Reasons; but to me it appears, that the Period is arrived, when nothing less than the most decisive and vigorous Measures should be pursued: Our Enemies from the other Side of the Atlantic, will be sufficiently numerous. It highly concerns us to have as few internal ones as possible.

[Note:A committee of the Continental Congress, on the State of New York, had been appointed (Dec. 28, 1775), and on its report Congress had withdrawn (January 3) all citizenship privileges from the inhabitants of Queens County who had not voted for delegates to the New York Legislature. ]

    As Congress seem to have altered their Views in this Instance, and the Men which went with you from Connecticut are upon a very different Footing from what I expected, it will be right to give Congress the earliest Notice of your Proceedings and to disband your Troops as soon as you think Circumstances will admit of it. 39

[Note:Ford notes that an account of General Lee's proceedings in New York will be found in the Life of Gouverneur Morris, vol. 1, pp. 74 -- 88. The official proceedings, which show the opposition of the New York Congress and committee of safety to vigorous action, will be found in Force's American Archives, Fourth Series, vol. 4. The action of the Continental Congress was based upon the protests of the State authority. ]

    In Consequence of the melancholy Reverse of our Affairs in Canada, an Application was made to me for Succour, and


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happy I should have been, if the Situation of this Army could have afforded it. All I could do was to lay the Matter before this and the Governments of Connecticut and New Hampshire, and urge the Expediency and Necessity of their sending a Reinforcement of three Regiments there immediately. Mr. Trumbull and his Council of Safety had anticipated my Request. The other two Colonies have adopted the Measure. The three Regiments are now raising, and I would willingly hope, will arrive in Time to reinstate Matters in that Quarter and give them a more agreable Aspect than they now have.

    I shall be much obliged by your pressing Colo. McDougall to forward the Shells mentioned in his Letter of the 2nd. Instr., as they are much wanted, and also to spare me some Powder if he possibly can. You know our Stock of this necessary Article is small and inconsiderable, and you know too that we have a Demand for a further Supply.

    The Progress in raising Recruits for the new Army being very slow, I have applied to this Colony, Connecticut and New Hampshire, for ten Regiments of Militia, to continue in Service 'till the 1st of April next, which they have granted me. As soon as they come in, and I can get provided with proper Means, I am determined to attempt something. Of this I would have you take no Notice.

    Within a few Days past several Persons have come out of Boston. They all agree that General Clinton is gone upon some Expedition. Some say he has between 4 and 500 Men, others, Part of two Regiments. What his Force consists of is not precisely known; but I am almost certain he is gone with some. His Destination must be south of this, and very probably for New York; I thought it necessary to give you this Information, that you may be on your Guard and prepared to receive him as well as you can.


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    I shall be glad to hear from you frequently, and to be informed of any Occurrences you may think material. I am, Dear Sir, etc.