Thomas Jefferson Papers

To Thomas Jefferson from Steuben, 15 February 1781

From Steuben

Chesterfield Co. He. 15 feby 81


General Muhlenberg has just forwarded me the inclosed Letters. What can have given rise to a correspondence of this nature I cannot say. It was contrary to my wish or desire. I shall be glad to know your Excellencys pleasure respecting the Exchange proposed by Genl. Arnold, both the Prisoners belonging to the State.

I inclose a Receipt for the Twenty Guineas sent in agreable to your desire.

I am extremely anxious to get off the Detachment for the Southard. I inclose an exact state of what Cloathing we can have ready here, and I must intreat your Excellency to take such measures as will insure us the remainder by the day fixed. I need not point out the necessity of our exertions. The inclosed Copy of Genl. Greens Letter will suffice.

There seems to be a difficulty in getting the shirts made up. This surprizes me especially after Colo. Carey informd me had wrote Mr. Armstead offering to make a large number I think 150 and was never honord with an Answer. I am convinced many private families would gladly assist.

I shall give the necessary direction for Arranging Colo. Taylors Regiment in the manner you mention.

Dft or FC (NHi); in the hand of an aide; endorsed: “Copy to Governor Jefferson feby 15.” The enclosures, except for “The inclosed Copy of Genl. Greens Letter” to Steuben of 10 Feb. (RC, NHi; see also note on Greene to TJ, 10 Feb.), have not been fully identified, though it is certain that one was a (missing) letter from Arnold to Robert Lawson of 12 Feb. in which Arnold proposed “to exchange Colonel Werneck taken at Westham and two of the Gentlemen you mention for Lieut. Col. Elligood and the two soldiers of Colonel Simcoe’s Regiment” (Arnold to Muhlenberg, 23 Feb., NHi). Arnold himself had apparently initiated this proposed exchange of prisoners, but Lawson had written to Steuben on 24 Jan. that this was in his opinion only a pretext and that he was “rather inclined to think that he [Arnold] wished to know where our outposts were and what movements we were making”; Lawson had therefore stopped the British flag at Suffolk, answered Arnold’s letter non-committally, and reported the whole matter to Steuben, who approved Lawson’s course, declared that he had no intention of entering upon a general exchange of prisoners, and said that there were only three persons that he wanted to exchange at that time—“Parson Hurt, Capt. Pearce, and Mr. Cocke” (Lawson to Steuben, 24 Jan.; Lawson to Arnold, 24 Jan.; Steuben to Lawson, 28 Jan., all of which are in NHi; see also TJ to Steuben, second letter of 17 Feb., for an apparent variation in the spelling of the names of the men and for a further note concerning the outcome of these negotiations).

On the subject of the twenty guineas it is worth noting that Steuben had just issued orders forbidding any flags to be sent to the British when he received TJ’s letter of 2 Feb. requesting that the money be returned, a request with which he complied (TJ to Steuben, 2 Feb. and the following in NHi: Steuben to Lawson, 6 Feb.; Muhlenberg to Steuben, 12 Feb.). Colo. Taylors regiment: For TJ’s proposal, see Taylor to TJ, 8 Feb. and TJ’s letters to Taylor and Steuben, 13 Feb.

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