The eight letters written to Charles Lee, an English-born soldier of fortune, are the first from this correspondence to appear at auction in more than 30 years.
Washington was the newly appointed commander-in-chief of the Continental Army and Lee was the most experienced general officer in that army. They reveal how Washington asserted his authority as Lee seemed more interested in pursuing his own agenda and promoting his own reputation, rather than following Washington's directions.
The letters descended in the Goddard family from William Goddard, who was the first printer in Providence and Baltimore and the literary executor to Lee.
The eight letters range in estimated value from $2,000 to $200,000 and are expected to bring between $572,000 and $813,000 when the sale begins Jan. 22.