Charles Lee Esqr. : Major General of the Continental-Army in America
Published as the act drirects, 31 Octr, 1775, by C. Shepherd. London.
Framed size: 18 1/2 x 13”
This portrait is one of a series of mezzotints published in London at the outbreak of the war depicting the officers of the American Revolution. Because of his distinction in the French and Indian Wars, Lee was included in the series with the assumption that he would play a major role in the war. This is one of the earliest portraits of Lee and is considered one of the most important Revolutionary prints.
Major General Charles Lee, 1732-1782 served during the French and Indian War with fellow officers George Washington, Horatio Gates and Thomas Gage. He later resigned from the British Army due to a dispute over rank and moved to America where he became involved in the Patriot cause. He joined the newly formed Army and was made third in command under Washington and Artemas Ward.
Lee arrived in Charleston, South Carolina, early in June 1776, where soon after the British arrived. Lee quickly fortified the city with Colonel William Moultrie, who commanded Fort Sullivan on Sullivan's Island in the harbor. Lee expected the majority of fighting to take place in the city proper, but on June 28, 1776, Moultrie held off the British naval force and the British retired without ever reaching the city. Lee and Moultrie received commendations for their actions.