Thomas Jefferson Papers

To Thomas Jefferson from James Innes, 22 April 1781

From James Innes

Frank’s Tavern. 24. miles from Williamsburg. April 22d
Seven o’clock A.M.


The movements of the Enemy on the Western side of chickahominy River of which I apprized you yesterday by Express has renderd it expedient for me to take my present position which I think a very defencible one, from which too I can file off towards Richmond without exposing my flanks or Rear to annoyance. They possessed themselves of the Ship Yard about 4 o’Clocke yesterday, and I am apprehensive from the fire discoverd in that Quarter last night they have totally destroyed it. The troops by intense fatigues and vigilance and a scarcity of provision are much worn down. These Circumstances increase our number of Invalids daily. I am determined to halt at this place until the Men can be comfortably recreated. I am sorry to inform you I have in vain called for the aid of the adjacent Counties. I am at present almost totally without Horse. If I had the power of impressing I should be able to form a very useful Corps of observation. I will immediately order a Return of my strength and Stores and enclose it by the next Express. I am in want of waggons, provision and allmost every necessary. When I get an hours sleep which I have not enjoyed for upwards of sixty hours, I will write you more fully. I am most respectfully Yr Excellencys most obt Serv.,

Jas Innes

RC (Vi); addressed: “On Service … Express”; endorsed.

Frank’s Tavern (the spelling is not certain, for Innes’ handwriting in this letter is understandably difficult) is tentatively identified by Mrs. Kimball as “the old whitewashed brick building still standing in sleepy New Kent Courthouse”; Kimball, Jefferson: War and Peace, p. 209. Innes wrote an almost identical letter to Steuben at the same time (NHi). The present letter was received the same day; see Va. Council Jour. description begins Journals of the Council of the State of Virginia, ed. H. R. McIlwaine description ends , ii, 339 and TJ’s reply, following.

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