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From The American Biography; containing Biographical Sketches of the Officers of the Revolution, and of the Principal Statesmen of that Period. To which are added the Life and Character of Benedict Arnold, and the Narrative of Major Andre. Compiled from Authentic Sources; anonymous; Wheeling: Printed and Published for F. Kenyon, 1833; pp. 273-274.




American Military Officers.


Colonel in the American Army

Colonel Lee was by birth a Virginian, and descended from the most distinguished branch of the Lees in that state. He possessed the lofty genius of his family, united to invincible courage and firmness, and all the noble enthusiasm of the warrior. General Charles Lee, who was beyond question a competent judge of military talent, averred, “that Henry Lee came a soldier from his mother’s womb.” General Greene pronounced him “The Eye” of the southern army, and to his counsels gave the most implicit, constant, and unbounded confidence. In the hour of difficulty, was danger to be averted, was prompt exertion necessary to prevent revolt, crush insurrection, cut off supplies, harass the enemy, or pursue him to destruction, to no one did he so often turn as to Lee.

But his ardor, brilliancy, and daring resolution, constituted but a part of his military worth. In him the fierce impetuosity of youth was finely blended with the higher and more temperate qualities of age. If he had in his temperament something of the electrical fire of Achilles, it was ennobled by the polished dignity of Hector, and repressed and moderated by the wisdom of Nestor.

For vigilance, intelligence, decision of character, skill in arms, a spirit of enterprise, and powers of combination, he had but few equals, youthful as he was, in the armies of his country.

As an officer of horse, and a partisan commander, perhaps he had no superior upon earth.

That he was justly entitled to this encomium, appears, as well from the extensive catalogue of his exploits, as from the high confidence 274 always reposed in him by the commanding officer under whom he served. This is true, no less in relation to Washington than Greene. He was the intimate friend and confidant of both. The sentiments of the latter, with regard to him, are forcibly expressed in the following extract of a letter, dated February 18th, 1782.

“Lieutenant-colonel Lee retires for a time, for the recovery of his health. I am more indebted to this officer than any other, for the advantage gained over the enemy in the operations of the last campaign; and I should be wanting in gratitude, not to acknowledge the importance of his services, a detail of which is his best panegyric.” — Life of Greene.

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