Thomas Jefferson Papers

From Thomas Jefferson to William Davies, 31 May 1781

To William Davies

Monticello May 31. 1781.


Mr. Patterson and Mr. Southall communicated to me your orders for removing the stores to Henderson’s on the North river, and thence upwards. The superior expediency of removing them to the main river appeared to the council so evident that they had fixed on that river as the proper line of deposit: I have consulted with many gentlemen of judgment now at Charlottesville, and the same measure seems to meet their universel approbation: I must confess it is what I think best. I have therefore taken the liberty of directing Mr. Southall to remove them immediately to the old court house, where they will either be kept or removed to such higher parts of the river as you shall think proper to direct. You will be pleased to determine whether it will be best to have all at one place or to disperse them, on the river. There are some good houses at Irving’s at the mouth of Rockfish. There are houses I beleive at Lynch’s ferry which is near the head navigation of the river and has a very good road leading through the Blue ridge, tho’ should you send a person up the river on purpose it is probable they may find other houses and perhaps better. I have excepted out of my order to Mr. Southall the arms (about 200 stand) which will be immediately wanting, and the 256 barrels of powder of which article I understand a very great quantity is already gone up James river. These he will carry to the house at Rockfish gap provided by your order.

After delivering to the Baron as many of the new muskets as he has men, I wish the residue could by any safe route be thrown into the Marquis’s way, as he has militia unarmed. On the 29th. he was at Goldmine creek in Hanover, and the enemy at Hanovertown. Unless they press forward to Fredericksburg, I imagine his retreat will be by Charlottesville towards the Blue ridge. As you are where you can consult with the Baron, be so good as to settle with him the best way of keeping or getting these arms so situated as that the militia coming in to the Marquis may be armed with them. I am with much respect Sir Your most obedt. sert.

Th: Jefferson

RC (PHi); addressed: “Colo William Davies at the Fork.”; endorsed.

I have … taken the liberty of directing Mr. Southall: Stephen Southall also wrote Davies on 31 May (RC, Vi), stating in part: “I have … procured Six Canoes and three hands from Colo. Joseph Cabell, and am to have Several Waggons to morrow which shall be dispatched immediately down to the Fork. The Governour yesterday told him [me?] he had consulted the members of the Assembly and it was their universal Opinion that the stores shoud be sent to Albemarle old Court house even the stores that are now at Hendersons. I am in Consequence at a loss what to be at. I shewed the Governour your letter respecting the Stores being carried to the Mountains, and he observed when the Stores where on navigation we not only had the same Oppertunity to remove by land, but the water also. I then urged the Security of the mountain, but he still presisted. Pray write me by this Express respecting that matter.” In this letter Southall also explained about the 256 Barrels of powder: “There were two hundred and fifty six barrels of powder that came to Mr. Hendersons Yesterday. I went down last night to see what number of stores were there and the situation they were in. I found them stored, but to my great surprize in bad Order the Canoes not being Clamped together the barrels were put in the bottoms of the Canoes and by some means … the Canoes were near half full of Water some of them, tho’ the tops of the barrels were kept dry and One barrel fell short of the invoice brought up. Now from the Governours direction to me I shou’d suppose no more of the stores will come here, but in the case more powder comes pray Order the Canoes to be Clamp’d as we must inevitable be ruin’d with such management.” See Patteson to Davies, 27 May 1781 and note there.

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