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[277] that Clinton was about to embark from Bos-
Chap. LVIII.} 1776. Jan.
ton, with troops, on a southern expedition, of which New York was believed to be the object; at the same time Lee, whose claim to ‘the character of a military genius and the officer of experience’ had not as yet been even suspected to be ‘false,’ desired to be detached from the army, that he might collect volunteers in Connecticut to secure New York and expel the tories, or ‘crush those serpents before their rattles were grown;’ and he urged the measure upon Washington, whether it exceeded his authority or not. After consulting John Adams, who was then with the provincial convention at Watertown, and who pronounced the plan to be practicable, expedient, and clearly authorized, Washington, uninformed of the measures already adopted, gave his consent to the request of Lee, expressly charging him to ‘keep always in view the declared intention of congress,’ and to communicate with the New York committee of safety; to whom he also wrote, soliciting their cooperation.

The proposed measure would have been warmly seconded, had its execution been entrusted to an officer who respected the civil authority; but Lee drove on under the sole guidance of his own judgment and self-will. As soon as he arrived in Connecticut, he found that Waterbury, obeying the countermand of the general congress, had disbanded his regiment; railing at congress for indecision, and cursing the provincial congress of New York, he forwarded no communication to the committee of safety of that colony, while he persuaded the governor and council of Connecticut not only to reassemble the regiment

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