Charles Lee: Self Before Country by Dominick Mazzagetti

By Dominick Mazzagetti

Dominick Mazzagetti provides an enticing account of the lifetime of Charles Lee, the forgotten guy of the yank Revolution. historical past has no longer been style to Lee—for sturdy cause. during this compelling biography, Mazzagetti compares Lee’s existence and attributes to these of George Washington and gives major observations passed over from prior Lee biographies, together with vast correspondence with British officials in 1777 that displays Lee’s abandonment of the Patriots’ cause.

Lee, a British officer, a veteran of the French and Indian conflict, and a critic of King George III, arrived in ny urban in 1773 with an ego that knew no bounds and tolerated no opponents.  A hugely obvious and newsworthy character, he quick took up the yank reason and inspired uprising. due to this advocacy and his army abilities, Lee used to be granted a fee as an enormous normal within the Continental military and shortly turned second-in-command to George Washington. He helped set up the protection of Boston, designed defenses for brand new York urban, and commanded the strength that repelled the British assault on Charleston.

Upon his go back to manhattan in 1776, Lee was once thought of via a few leaders of the Revolution to be an alternative choice to George Washington, who used to be in complete retreat from British forces. Lee’s catch through the British in December 1776 positioned an finish to that risk. Lee’s next unlock in a prisoner trade in 1778 and go back to an American command resulted in a dramatic disagreement with Washington at the battlefield at Monmouth, New Jersey, in June 1778. Washington chastised Lee publicly for ordering an pointless retreat. Lee suffered the ignominy of a court-martial conviction for this blunder and spent the rest years to his demise in 1782 attacking Washington. even if few doubted Lee’s loyalty on the time, his activities at Monmouth fueled hypothesis that he switched aspects in the course of his imprisonment.

A discovery years after his loss of life accomplished Lee’s story. In 1862, a researcher stumbled on “Mr. Lee’s Plan,” an in depth method for the defeat of the yank rebels dropped at British basic William Howe whereas Lee used to be held in captivity. This discovery sealed Lee’s ancient checklist and ended all extra dialogue of his contributions to the yankee Revolution. this present day, few humans even notice that fortress Lee, at the New Jersey part of the George Washington Bridge, was once named in his honor.

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If they are true, even in part, Charles Lee’s first American experiences provided a colorful beginning to his military and personal life. qxd 7/5/13 7:54 AM Page 15 lee’s “american expedition” 15 Lee’s regiment arrived in Virginia in 1754 and participated in an ill-fated campaign under General Edward Braddock that demonstrated the lack of understanding that British commanders had for the style of fighting that would prove successful on the American frontier. General Braddock marched the Forty-fourth (Lee’s unit) and the Forty-eighth Regiments through the woods from Frederick, Maryland, toward his objective, the French Fort Duquesne at the confluence of the Monongahela and Allegheny Rivers.

No royal preferment came Lee’s way in 1763 and 1764. One might think that the more experienced men pressing Lee’s cause at court would have advised him to temper his views, or at least to stay out of print with his criticisms of the government. Apparently they did, but to no avail. One correspondent, several years later, alludes to Lee’s inability to measure his remarks: I should have been heartily glad to have heard, my dear Colonel, that His Majesty’s recommendation had been more successful in procuring you an establishment equal to your merits and wishes, but am not at all surprised that you find the door shut against you by the person who has such unbounded Credit, as you have ever too freely indulged a liberty of declaiming, which many infamous & invidious people have not failed to inform him of.

Qxd 7/5/13 24 7:54 AM Page 24 charles lee: self before country Lee made sure that his sister understood the threat of scalping that followed British soldiers on the frontiers of North America, but he never discussed the fears of scalping that pervaded the psyche of settlers living on those frontiers. Would those people have agreed with Lee’s observation that the Indians possessed a “gentillity” and were “hospitable and friendly”? British citizens living in North America at the time, especially those making a living in the seaport towns, might agree with Lee’s observations about the impact of the capture of Fort Niagara for the fur trade and the economy of Great Britain, but certainly they were much more concerned with the impact the fort had on the security of the villages at or near the frontiers when it was in the hands of the French.

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