"There is danger from all men. The only maxim of a free government ought to be to trust no man living with
power to endanger the public liberty." - - - - John Adams

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Revolutionary War General Henry Lee

Henry Lee III
Major General United States Army
Governor of Virginia
Federalist Party Congressman 

(Editor's Note - For a change of pace this winter we will do profiles of some of the Federalists who helped create this great nation.  They gave us Liberty.  But would they even recognize the centralized authoritarian and socialistic Big Brother state that calls itself the United States?)

Light-Horse Harry Lee was born to Henry Lee II and Lucy Grymes at Leesylvania (near Dumfries, Virginia) on 29 January 1756.  He is noted, among many other things as being the father of Robert E. Lee.

Lee felt strongly about the patriot cause.  With the outbreak of the Revolutionary War, he became a Captain in a Virginia dragoon detachment, which was attached to the 1st Continental Light Dragoons.

In 1778, Lee was promoted to Major and given the command of a mixed corps of cavalry and infantry known as Lee's Legion, with which he won a great reputation as a leader of light troops.

It was during his time as commander of the Legion that Lee earned the sobriquet of "Light-Horse Harry" for his horsemanship.

On September 22, 1779 the Continental Congress voted to present Lee with a gold medal—a reward given to no other officer below a general's rank—for the Legion's actions during the Battle of Paulus Hook in New Jersey, on August 19 of that year. 

Young Lighthorse Harry attracted the attention of his illustrious commander George Washington after Lee's successful surprise attack at Paulus Hook, N.J. The heavily manned British garrison there was under command of Maj. Sutherland, and Washington's "principal fear," as he later wrote to Lee, was that retreat would be impossible -- the garrison had to be taken by "surprize." Lee ordered his soldiers under penalty of death to maintain complete silence as they forded a stream and charged with fixed bayonets to take more than 150 British prisoners, losing only one man.

Lee was promoted to Lieutenant Colonel and was assigned with his Legion to the southern theater of war. Lee's Legion raided the British outpost of Georgetown, South Carolina with General Francis Marion in January 1781 and helped screen the American army in their Race to the Dan River the following month.

Lee united with General Francis Marion the Swamp Fox and General Andrew Pickens in the spring of 1781 to capture numerous British outposts in South Carolina and Georgia including Fort Watson, Fort Motte, Fort Granby, Fort Galphin, Fort Grierson, and Fort Cornwallis, [Augusta Georgia]. Lee and his legion also served at the Battle of Guilford Court House, the siege of Ninety-Six, and the Battle of Eutaw Springs. He was present at Cornwallis's surrender at Yorktown.

During the infamous Whiskey Rebellion, Lee commanded the 13,000 militiamen sent to quash the rebels.

Dragoon- Lee's Legion
Lee's Legion (also known as the 2nd Partisan Corps) was a military unit within the Continental Army during the American Revolution. It primarily served in the Southern Theater of Operations, and gained a reputation for efficiency and bravery on the battlefield.


From 1786 to 1788, Lee was a delegate to the Continental Congress, and in the last-named year in the Virginia convention, he favored the adoption of the United States Constitution. From 1789 to 1791, he served in the General Assembly and, from 1791 to 1794, was Governor of Virginia.

In 1794, Lee accompanied Washington to help the suppression of the Whiskey Rebellion in western Pennsylvania. A new county of Virginia was named after him during his governorship. Henry Lee was a major general in the U.S. Army in 1798–1800. From 1799 to 1801, he served in the United States House of Representatives representing the Federalist Party.

He famously eulogized Washington to a crowd of 4,000 at the first President's funeral on December 26, 1799: "first in war, first in peace, and first in the hearts of his countrymen."


On July 27, 1812, Lee received grave injuries while helping to resist an attack on his friend, Alexander Contee Hanson, editor of the Baltimore newspaper, The Federal Republican. Hanson was attacked by a Jeffersonian mob of Democratic-Republicans because his paper opposed the War of 1812. Lee and Hanson and two dozen other Federalists had taken refuge in the offices of the paper.

The group surrendered to Baltimore city officials the next day and were jailed. Laborer George Woolslager led a mob that forced its way into the jail, removed the Federalists, beating and torturing them over the next three hours.  Lee was left partially blinded after hot wax was poured into his eyes.
All were severely injured, and one Federalist, General James Lingan, died.

Lee suffered extensive internal injuries as well as head and face wounds, and even his speech was affected. Lee later sailed to the West Indies in an effort to recuperate from his injuries. He died on 25 March 1818, at Dungeness, on Cumberland Island, at the home of Nathanael Greene's widow in Georgia.

Battle of Guilford Courthouse
Henry Lee fought at the Battle of Guilford Court House. The battle was fought on March 15, 1781 in Greensboro, North Carolina, during the Revolutionary War. A force of 1,900 British troops under the command of Lieutenant General Charles Cornwallis defeated an American force of 4,000 troops, commanded by Major General Nathanael Greene.
Despite the relatively small numbers of troops involved, the battle is considered pivotal to the American victory in the Revolution. Before the battle, the British appeared to have had great success in conquering much of Georgia and South Carolina with the aid of strong Loyalist factions, and thought that North Carolina might be within their grasp.
In the wake of the battle, Greene moved into South Carolina, while Cornwallis chose to march into Virginia and attempt to link up with roughly 3500 men under British Major General Phillips and American turncoat Benedict Arnold. These decisions allowed Greene to unravel British control of the South, while leading Cornwallis to Yorktown and eventual surrender to Major General George Washington and Lieutenant General Comte de Rochambeau.

The Stratford Hall Story 
Stratford Hall is set on 1,900 acres on the Potomac River in Westmoreland County, Virginia. Built by Thomas Lee in the 1730s, Stratford Hall is one of the great houses of American history. Four generations passed through its doors, including Richard Henry Lee and Francis Lightfoot Lee, the only two brothers to sign the Declaration of Independence, Revolutionary War hero "Light Horse Harry" Lee and his son, Civil War General Robert E. Lee, who was born at Stratford in 1807.

The original unit was raised June 8, 1776, at Williamsburg, Virginia, under the command of Light Horse Harry Lee for service with the 1st Continental Light Dragoons of the Continental Army. On April 7, 1778, the Legion left the 1st CLDs and became known as Lee's Legion. It included elements of both cavalry and foot, and typically was uniformed with short green woolen jackets and white linen or doeskin pants, somewhat mimicking the British Legion in appearance.
When Lord Cornwallis moved his British Army into North Carolina, Lee's Legion entered South Carolina to protect that colony and to harass British expeditions. Often, the Legion served with Francis Marion and Thomas Sumter in these missions. In 1781, it participated in the Siege of Ninety Six. The Legion saw considerable action at the Battle of Camden, Battle of Guilford Court House, and the retaking of Savannah, Georgia. It served through the Battle of Yorktown, which essentially ended the war. The Legion was disbanded at Winchester, Virginia, on November 15, 1783.

George Washington

"First in war, first in peace, and first in the hearts of his countrymen, he was second to none in the humble and endearing scenes of private life. Pious, just, humane, temperate, and sincere; uniform, dignified, and commanding, his example was as edifying to all around him as were the effects of that example lasting."

"Who is there that has forgotten the vales of Brandywine, the fields of Germantown, or the plains of Monmouth? Everywhere present, wants of every kind obstructing, numerous and valiant armies encountering, himself a host, he assuaged our sufferings, limited our privations, and upheld our tottering republic."

General Henry Lee III
American Revolutionary veteran. Delivered his famous eulogy on Washington before the two Houses of Congress on December 26, 1799.



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