Affiliate Link

Attempt to Surprise Captain lee

From Diary of the American Revolution, Vol II. Compiled by Frank Moore and published in 1859.

January 21.—Captain Lee,1 who has for some time past been posted at Valley Forge with his troops, has added another cubit to his fame. General Howe, longing to rob the Americans of this gallant young officer, whose attention in observing his motions, and address in surprising his parties perplexed him so much the last campaign, detached a large body of horse (said to be two hundred) to surprise him yesterday morning. By the assistance of a guide, who conducted them through by-roads, they avoided the videts, and surrounded the house where Captain Lee lay so suddenly that he had scarcely time to bolt the doors before they began a smart firing into the windows, and demanded the immediate surrender of the house. Major Jemmason, (of the same regiment with Captain Lee, and who lodged with him that night,) Lieutenant Lindsay, and five private troopers, were all that were with Lee at that time; the rest of the troops being quartered in a neighboring house. They returned the fire from the windows with spirit; and, by showing themselves at different places, made as great an appearance of numbers as possible. The enemy, after firing and threatening about twenty-five minutes, finding so gallant and determined a resistance, and having several of their men badly wounded, gave over their attempt and rode off full speed for Philadelphia. They made prisoners of four of the troop who happened to be out of the house when they surrounded it, and Major Jemmason and Lieutenant Lindsay were both slightly wounded. Thus this handful of brave officers and men, “by their infinite address and gallantry,” repulsed a formidable body of horse sent on purpose to take them.2


1 Henry Lee.
2 New Jersey Gazette, January 28. General Washington’s sense of the spirited conduct of Captain Lee and his troops, appears in the following words:—”The Commander-in-chief returns his warmest thanks to Captain Lee and the officers and men in his troop, for the victory which their superior bravery and address gained over a party of the enemy’s dragoons, who, trusting in their numbers, and concealing their march in a circuitous route, attempted to surprise them in their quarters. He has the satisfaction of informing the army that Captain Lee’s vigilance baffled the enemy’s design; that by judiciously posting his men in quarters, although he had not a sufficient number to allow one to each window, he obliged the party, consisting of two hundred men, disgracefully to retire, after repeated, but fruitless attempts to force their way into the house, leaving behind two dead and four wounded, without receiving any damage on his part, save only his lieutenant, Mr. Lindsay, wounded, unless any of his out-patroles should have been unfortunately surrounded and taken, which is not yet known.”—New Jersey Gazette, February 4, 1778.

Leave a Reply