To Richard Henry Lee July 1, 1777
From the original letter at the American Philosophical Society:
My Dear Sir
Soon after your Absence from this City we began to have a little Military News stirring. On the 11th Inst. Govr. Mifflin by direction from Genl Washington acquainted the Inhabitants at a meeting in the State House yard that from the late preparations of the Enemy their intentions were for this City, His address was received with as much spirit as it was delivered and the meeting unanimously resolved to turn out agreeable to the Militia Law on the 13th. at night Genls Howe and Cornwallis moved to Somerset 8 miles from Brunswick and on the 19th at night retreated again to Brunswick. On the morning of the 22d they evacuated the last mentioned place and retreated to Amboy.
I am at a loss to account for Genl Howe’s movements on any other than the following — His short march from Brunswick to Somerset afforded him an opportunity of trying the disposition of the States of N Jersey and Pennsylvania as to the turning out of the Militia which was very necessary for him to be acquainted with before he ventured too far into the country — it was like moving the previous Question, and the issue was against him for the Militia of both States took the alarm Instantly it then became necessary for him to make a retreat to Amboy and a feint if necessary over to Staten Island, in order that the Militia, which his first march had raised, might be dismissed, and the 3000 men from Genl Putnam countermanded — both these events have happened and last Thursday g. Howe left Amboy and made his appearance again in the country — He is I believe too weak to hope for a decisive Victory and is trying to win it as a game, besides which, as this is their only Army, they are obliged to preserve it as an army of Observation on the motions of the French and Spaniards in the W Indies.
I sincerely regret your absence, both on account of your private friendship and your Public Service; and I have the pleasure if I may call it such for I wish the occasion had not happened of hearing many others in the same opinion. A man that sets out upon a public bottom must always expect to be privately undermined in some quarter or other. I have often remarked that those who are benefited by the public service of another without feeling themselves rivaled will always be the friends of merit, but those who are benefited by being rivaled, will from envy, ever be its enemies — and thus by tracing a received affront to its true cause and reflecting philosophically thereon, a person may often draw very agreeable consolation therefrom.
We have had nothing stirring of news for three weeks past. When the enemy marched from Amboy they endeavored to surprise the division under Lord Sterling. We lost two if not three pieces of artillery. No other material loss.
I am Dear Sir, your affectionate humble servant,