Friday, February 17, 2012

Captain Andrew Lee, Part One

Hello!  Today, I write about a certain Captain Andrew Lee who was a soldier in the Revolutionary War and whose story I find very compelling.  OK, full disclosure - I have a serious crush on Captain Andrew Lee of Paxtang, Pennsylvania.  I do.  There is no portrait of him, to my knowledge, but doesn't matter.  I've fallen.

This is the best I can do, as far as a portrait.  This is a depiction of what his uniform would've looked like during the Revolutionary War.  His uniform might've been different, as he was a Captain, but this is the general idea.  Oh, only except imagine him as handsome.  Natch.  All my imaginings of Captain Lee have him being extremely dashing.  So...not this guy.  Sorry...that guy.

As to Captain Lee, I mentioned him in a previous post, when I related an amazing story I found about him as a spy for the Americans in 1781.  I thought he was sexy just for that story alone.  If you have some time, read his part of that post, 'cause it's good and I won't rewrite it here.

Mostly I won't rewrite it here because there is really lots more to talk about, regarding his life.  Lots!  And, while I fully realize that in life, he may have been a bastard - he may have been cruel to animals, women, children...I don't want to even think about his probable views on slavery or his opinions about Native Americans- in my mind, he's wonderful.  And I have reasons.  Compelling reasons.  They will become clear when I tell you a little of his biography.  Or really, when I tell you the highlights of his biography, because honestly, the man lived a very, very interesting, complicated life.  Well, until he was about forty-five.  Then he settled down and didn't do too much.  As far as I can tell.

It's startlingly difficult to investigate peoples' lives effectively while weighing the fact that they might have actually been bastards.  I find it hard, anyway.  I become engaged with the subjects and start rooting for them and then I live in fear that some piece of evidence will show them to be who they really were - horrible, horrible people.  And those horrible people doesn't deserve biographies, but to be hated for all eternity.  Look at me, all extreme and stuff.

Ahem.  Let's continue.

Captain Andrew Lee of Paxtang, PA was born in 1739 and died in Nanticoke, PA on June 15, 1821.  (Side note: I hope to visit Nanticoke this spring and I really really hope to find his grave and possibly his house.  It might still be there!  Maybe!  Well, probably not, but maybe!)

Although he was a Pennsylvanian, he was a soldier for the British in the French and Indian War.  He enlisted at sixteen in 1755 with the British forces and went with a General Braddock on an expedition against the French settlements on the Ohio.  This detail is not very important, it's just that he fought in a battle, which the British lost, on July 9th 1755 near Fort Duquesne (which was located in what would become Pittsburgh).  Importantly, Andrew Lee fought alongside a Colonel George Washington.  The George Washington.

Throughout this post I will quote from Captain Lee's brief biography in A History of Lodge No. 61, F. and A.M., Wilkesbarre, PA (beginning in the middle of page 29 of the ebook).  This Mason lodge history is filled with the biographies of its many many members and in some cases, there is a portrait to go with the biography.  Sadly, no portrait of Capt. Lee, only an image of his Masonic apron.

The history of the lodge was written by Oscar Jewell Harvey in 1897.  In my opinion, Mr. Harvey did a very thorough job collecting first-hand accounts for the Captain Lee biography.  It's the kind of biography one would dream of finding.  That I would dream of, in any case.  Oddly enough, Mr. Harvey, who was a well known historian of the Wilkes-Barre region of Pennsylvania, has, it seems, a facebook page.  That's where I found a photograph of him.

  And about this photo, all I have to say is:  "Sweet 'stache, man." "Thanks, bro."  From this clip of Safe Men at around 38 seconds.  I believe you can take a minute to watch this.  You won't regret it.

  Anyway, let's go back to Andrew Lee and Colonel George Washington at the 1755 Battle of Fort Duquesne in the French and Indian War.  I quote the lodge history biography of Lee on this subject, "In that battle all the officers on horseback except Col. George Washington having been killed or wounded, the provincials-who were among the last to leave the field-were rallied by Colonel Washington, and covered the retreat of the regulars."  Andrew Lee would've been one of the provincials (meaning Colonists, at that time) and the British troops would've been the regulars.

Here are two prints which represent this battle.  A kind of before and after, if you will.  First, the before, from this website:
And all I have to say about that print is, "Nice hats."  That's the leader of the British forces, General Braddock, on the horse.  Now, the after, which depicts the death of General Braddock during battle, from this website:
And, about that print, all I have to say is, "Damn."

Captain Lee's association with George Washington would be long lasting and is critical to Captain Lee's life.  Washington sent Capt. Lee on that spy escapade in 1781, for instance.  Captain Lee also named one of his sons Washington.  According to a write-up of Capt. Lee's funeral, given by a fellow Mason Bro. Charles Miner, "The name of Washington was held by him in the highest veneration, and whenever mentioned, awakened an enthusiasm to the latest hour, that made his eyes sparkle with the lustre of youth."  They don't write funeral accounts like they used to, am I right?

Alright.  Whew.  I need to take a break.  So far, I've told you that at sixteen, Andrew Lee went into the battle above and was led out of it by Colonel George Washington.  I've shown you the uniform he might've worn during the Revolutionary War (again, please, imagine a more handsome man there).  I've shown you the Mason apron of Captain Lee.  And finally, I've shown you the awesome moustache of the historian responsible for bringing me all this information.

I've spent some more time on da google and found this print.  OK.  Handsome devil on the left.  Picture something like that, only with the uniform of the first photo up above.  Tricorns are sexier than pointy hats.  *sigh*  It's never perfect, is it?  No.  No it's not.

Next post I'll tackle Captain Andrew Lee's Revolutionary War and his extraordinary post-Revolutionary War.  It is in those stories that I hope to convey to you all why it is I've fallen for Captain Lee.  Those stories will be concise and coherent and there won't be all this set-up.  Somehow, this post just ended up being all over  the place.  I'm going to blame that on my cognitive difficulties due to the MS.  MS card!!!  Holla!  I played it!!!

Until next time...


  1. I laughed my way through this entire post. God I love your writing style. Also, I must now watch Safe Men. How had I never heard of that? Sam Rockwell ala Lawn Dogs was my fav!

  2. Hi Phebe,

    Great job!

    Not sure if you are still blogging, just wanted to let you know I enjoyed reading this blog about one of my ancestors, Captain Andrew Lee. I can't answer any questions about him, sounds like a character, right? I will say that his great granddaughter, Emily Hutchison Lee, married my grandfather (Randolph West) and now I'm researching the family tree going further back for my daughter.

    Mary Ann West (Westport, CT) mwestwrites (at)