Three letters from John Lee junior of Rochdale, Lancashire, clerk, to John Crossley of Scaitcliffe Hall, Todmorden, Lancashire, discussing the role that Crossley would play in the event of a French invasion during the Napoleonic Wars. In 1803 Napoleon had assembled an army of 130,000 men at Calais with the intention of crossing the English Channel. These letters provide evidence of the precautions taken by the military and civilian authorities against the threat of invasion. They also provide useful information on the organization of militia forces in Lancashire, which were to play a crucial role in the Peterloo Massacre, fifteen years later.
The first letter, dated 23 November 1803, informs Crossley that he has been appointed a 'Guide' and that the town of Middleton had been designated as the place of general assembly, in case of invasion. Lee therefore instructs Crossley that, when ordered, he is to 'repair to Middleton on Horseback, and place yourself under the Command of Mr Samuel Ashton of the town, the General Superintendent of Guides in the Subdivision'.
The second letter, dated 20 December 1803, is a circular from John Lee to the guides within the Middleton subdivision. He appends a copy of a letter from Captain William Cox, Aide-de-camp to Prince William Frederick, to R. G. Hopwood, esq., Lieutenant, requesting a return of the men selected as guides in the division of Middleton, and instructing Hopwood to direct them 'to repair to Manchester on the first alarm of an Enemy's landing where they will form part of a Corps, under such Officers as the Lord Lieutenant shall appoint'.
The final letter, dated 20 March 1804, instructs Crossley that 'the Guides are to assemble (in case of an Alarm of the Enemy's Landing) in front of the Bridgewater Arms, Manchester, and place themselves under the Command of Mr Thomas Carus, who is appointed by the Lord Lieutenant Captain of the Corps'.