And speaking of Gen. Charles Lee, here’s one of my favorite anecdotes about him. On 21 Oct 1775, the Rev. Jeremy Belknap dined in Cambridge at the house of Thomas Mifflin, quartermaster general for the American army. The other guests included:
- Continental Congress delegates Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Lynch, and Benjamin Harrison
- Gen. Horatio Gates
- the commander-in-chief’s secretary, Joseph Reed, and aide-de-camp George Baylor
- Lt. Gov. Matthew Griswold of Connecticut
- the Rev. Abiel Leonard, chaplain from Connecticut
- Gen. Lee
General Lee is a perfect original, a good scholar and soldier, and an odd genius; full of fire and passion, and but little good manners; a great sloven, wretchedly profane, and a great admirer of dogs,—of which he had two at dinner with him, one of them a native of Pomerania, which I should have taken for a bear had I seen him in the woods.And of course one general should introduce a suspected spy to another.
A letter which he wrote General [Israel] Putnam yesterday is a copy of his odd mind. It is, as nearly as I can recollect, as follows; being a letter of introduction of one Page, a Church [of England] clergyman: —Hobgoblin Hall, Oct. 19, 1775.This Page is suspected by some to be a spy, as he has a plan of the lines, and is bound to England.
Mr. Page, the bearer of this, is a Mr. Page. He has the laudable ambition of seeing the great General Putnam. I therefore desire you would array yourself in all your majesty and terrors for his reception. Your blue and gold must be mounted, your pistols stuck in your girdle; and it would not be amiss if you should black one half of your face.
I am, dear general, with fear and trembling, your humble servant,
I wonder if this Page was the same man who preached in Newport in March 1773 and got the Rev. Ezra Stiles all gossipy. He claimed to be a chaplain to the Countess of Huntingdon, who was financing Methodism back in Britain. I can’t find a record of that minister’s first name.