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Autograph letter signed ("Richard Henry Lee") with postscript signed

  • USA
  • 2014-06-03
Om objektet
2 pages plus integral address leaf with his autograph free frank ("Free R. H. Lee"), folio (12 3/4 x 8 1/8 in.; 324 x 206 mm), Philadelphia, 17 august 1777, to John Page in Williamsburg, red wax seal; formerly folded, five mended tears in address leaf, small dampstain and a few spots on text leaf.
A fine war-time letter by Virginia's delegate on military strategy and the expected British attack on Philadelphia. Lee writes as delegate to the fourth Continental Congress with news of the war. Page was then the Lieutenant Governor of Virginia. Lee reports: "Were it not for the very disgraceful evacuation of Ticonderoga and the loss of our stores there, we should have little but good to relate of this campaign as far as it has gone. The Generals Schuyler & St. Clair are order down to Head Quarters, where an enquiry will be instituted ... Gen. Gates is reappointed to the command of the Northern Army, and by this time has joined it ... Already Gen. Hackerman [probably Nicholas Herkimer] of the N. York Militia has beaten a part of the enemies forces and slain 50 Indians [at the Battle of Oriskany, dying of his wounds the day before this letter was written].
The Americans were expecting General Howe, then occupying New York, to launch an attack on Philadelphia; Lee reports on this speculation: "Gen. Howes fleet was seen off the Eastern Shore of Maryland on the 7th instant steering southward, but it is somewhat doubtful whether his troops are on board now or not. If they are, it is surely the strangest manoeuvre that was ever before put in practise - For is it not wonderful, that whilst Burgoyne is pushing into the Country on one quarter, Howe should quit it on another? In the meantime Gen. Washingtons forces are so placed as to be ready to meet Mr. Howes visitation if it happens anywhere but on the two extremes of the United States."
As one of the strongest supporters in the Congress for seeking foreign military assistance, Lee reports on these attempts: "Our information from Europe does not promise us immediate war, but we are sure of very substantial aid from thence ... The spirit of France rises with the increase of its fleets, since we learn that when the British Ambassador lately told the Ministry, that if N. America continued to be supplied from France, that the Peace could not long continue. He was answered 'Nous ne desiron[s] pas la guerre, et nous ne le craignon[s] pas.' He continues with news of his brother's activities, and with news of a speech by Lord Chatham in the House of Lords which "lately has come to N. York, but they will not publish it, in which his Lordship advises them to make peace with America immediately on Any Terms, assuring them they have no more chance to conquer this country with the force they have or can get, than he to conquer Britain with his Crutch; and that the longer they contend the more certain will be their ruin & disgrace." He closes with an appeal for cannon, copper, calamine "for our works near the falls of James River." In his postscript he notes, "I fear Howe is gone to Charles Town in South Carolina. If so against such a Land & Sea force no effectual resistance can be made ... Curse on his canvas wings."

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