George Washington to Major General Charles Lee, 30 June 1778

Following the Battle of Monmouth on 28 June 1778, Washington received a letter from Maj. Gen. Charles Lee in which Lee claimed that Washington had unfairly accused him of disobeying orders during the course of the fighting that day. In that letter, Lee requested the chance to justify his actions “to the army, to the Congress, to America, and to the world in general.” Washington’s reply is below, in which he defends his statements, which were spoken after Lee’s troops beat a hasty and unexpected retreat towards the lines of the entire Continental army rather than engage the British troops as ordered. Lee’s retreat helped bring the British and American armies face to face for the first time, and could have dealt a harsh blow to the entire American military force if the ensuing battle had not been an American success. After receiving this letter, Lee replied almost immediately with another letter to Washington.

Original manuscript images of Washington’s letter to Lee at the Library of Congress: Page 1 | Page 2

Also see the introduction to Washington’s correspondence with Lee.

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