Thomas Jefferson Papers

From Thomas Jefferson to the County Lieutenants of Washington and Certain Other Counties, 28 May 1781

To the County Lieutenants of Washington and Certain Other Counties

Charlottesville May 28th 1781


Lord Cornwallis from Carolina and a Reinforcement of 2000 Men from New York having joined the hostile Army which was before here and crossed James River renders it necessary for us to bring a very great Force into the Field. As I have reason to believe you have not sent the whole Number ordered to the Southward by my Letter of 1 You will now be pleased to send under proper Officers whatever number you were deficient to join immediately our Army under Major General Marquis Fayette. As it is uncertain whether he will retire Northwardly or Westwardly, I would advise that your men come by the Way of Charlottesville should no movement of the Enemy render it unsafe. You will be pleased to understand that the number you are now required to send, with those actually marched to the Southward are to make up 2 as formerly required. Let every man who possibly can, come armed with a good rifle and those who cannot must bring a good smooth Bore if they have it.

They must expect to continue in the Field two months from the Time of their joining the Army.

Cavalry in a due proportion being as necessary [&c. as in the Letter of May 5th to the County Lieut of Culpeper.]3

I need not urge you to the most instantaneous execution of these Orders. Till the Reinforcements now called for get into the Field the whole Country lies open to a most powerful Army headed by the most active, enterprising and vindictive Officer who has ever appeared in Arms against us. I am4 with great respect Sir your most obedt Servt.,

Th: Jefferson

FC (Vi); at head of text: “County Lieutenants of Washington, Montgomery & Botetourt.” Following this letter in the Executive Letter Book (Vi) there is this entry: “County Lieutenants of Rockbridge, Augusta, Rockingham, Amherst,” and after the same salutation, place, and date, “Lord Cornwallis from Carolina &c. as in the Letter to Washington.” Since there is no variation in text noted, it is probable that TJ decided to call on these four additional counties after letters to the first three had been dispatched. RC (Vi) to the county lieutenant of Montgomery; in a clerk’s hand, with signature and several insertions in TJ’s hand.

1Blank in FC; “Mar. 29” inserted in TJ’s hand in RC.

2Blank in FC; “187” inserted in TJ’s hand in RC.

3Brackets supplied; the paragraph beginning with these words in TJ’s letter to the county lieutenants of Lunenburg &c. of 8 May, q.v., follows at this point in RC. The letter of 5 May to the county lieutenants of Culpeper was made from the same master copy.

4FC ends at this point; the complimentary close and signature have been supplied from RC.

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