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Colonial and State Records of North Carolina
Letter from Charles Lee to John Hancock
Lee, Charles, 1731-1782
July 02, 1776
Volume 10, Pages 618c-618d

Letter from General Charles Lee to the President of the Continental Congress.

Charlestown, July 2nd, 1776.

I should have done myself the honour sooner of informing the Congress of the attack made by the enemy's squadron on Sullivan's Island, and their repulse, but conjectured that by waiting a day or two, I might probably be furnished with the means of sending a more minute, full, and satisfactory account.

My conjecture was right, for yesterday five seamen made their escape, one of whom is a more intelligent fellow than is commonly found amongst men of his level. Enclosed is a copy of their narrative. I may venture to congratulate Congress on the event. Not only the advantage must be considerable, but the affair reflects no small credit to the American arms.

On Friday at eleven o'clock, the Commodore (Sir Peter Parker), with his whole squadron, consisting of two line of battle ships and six frigates, the rates of which are marked in the enclosed Narrative, anchored at less than half musket shot from the fort, and commenced one of the most furious and incessant fires I ever saw or heard. It was manifestly their plan to land, at the same time, their

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whole Regulars at the East end of the Island, and of course invest the fort by land and sea. As the garrison was composed entirely of raw troops, both officers and men, I thought it my duty to cross over to the Island to encourage the garrison by my presence. But I might have saved myself that trouble, for I found, on my arrival, they had no occasion for any sort of encouragement. I found them determined and cool to the last degree; their behaviour would, in fact, have done honour to the oldest troops.

I therefore beg leave to recommend, in the strongest terms to Congress the commanding officer, Colonel Moultrie, and his whole garrison, as brave soldiers and excellent citizens. Nor must I omit, at the same time, mentioning Colonel Thompson, who, with the South Carolina Rangers and a detachment of the North Carolina Regulars, repulsed the enemy in two several attempts to make a lodgment at the extremity of the Island.

Our loss, considering the heat and duration of the fire, was inconsiderable. We had only ten men killed on the spot and twentytwo wounded, seven of whom lost their limbs. But with their limbs they did not lose their spirits; for they enthusiastically encouraged their comrades never to abandon the standard of liberty and their country. This I do assure you, is not the style of gasconading romance usual after every successful action but literally a fact. I with great pleasure mention the circumstance, as it augurs well to the cause of freedom. At eleven the fire ceased, having continued just twelve hours without the least intermission.