Thomas Jefferson Papers

To Thomas Jefferson from James Innes, 21 April 1781

From James Innes

Hickory neck Church 14 Miles above Wmsburg
21st. April 1781 3 oClock


About 3 oClock Yesterday the Enemy landed at Burwell’s Ferry 500 Infantry 50 Horse and 4 Peices Artillery, which with a seeming Intention of landing in force at Jamestown or on some part of the River above us, obliged us to evacuate the Town, and move up to Allens Ordinary six Miles above, about 12 o’Clock in the Night. Major Armistead with 150 Men and Capt. Kelly with 50 Riflemen were ordered down and had a Skirmish with the Enemy which terminated rather in our favour.

We have just now received Information that they are above Jamestown with 14 Square rigged Vessels, and 16 flat bottomed Boats are now in Chickahominy River within 3 Miles of the Shipyard, and in our present situation I think, there is no probability of our obviating their Intentions without risqueing every thing.

I am Sir yr. Excellency’s obedt. Servt.,

Jas. Innes

P.S. Since writing the above we have received Information that the Enemy are in Possession of the Shipyard.


RC (Vi); addressed; endorsed: “Jas Innes’s Lre April 22d 1781” (date of receipt; see Va. Council Jour. description begins Journals of the Council of the State of Virginia, ed. H. R. McIlwaine description ends , ii, 339). Tr (NHi); transmitted by TJ to Steuben, 22 Apr.

Innes’ reports at this time were not altogether consistent, a fact that is understandable in view of his having been on exhausting duty almost constantly since the 18th. In his letter to TJ of 20 Apr. he reported that the British had landed at Burwell’s at two o’clock; in the present letter the time is given as 3 oclock; and in one to Steuben written at 3:00 P.M. but immediately preceding the present (and giving much the same information), Innes wrote that the British landed at Burwell’s “Yesterday about five o’Clock” (Innes to Steuben, same address and time as above, 21 Apr. 1781, NHi).

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