James Madison Papers

Session of Virginia Council of State, 27 November 1778

Session of Virginia Council of State

MS (Virginia State Library).

Friday November 27th 1778

His Excellency;
John Page Nathaniel Harrison
Dudley Digges David Jameson
Thomas Walker James Madison &
Joseph Prentis Esquires.

The Governor having communicated to the Board a Letter, which he had received from Colonel Muter,1 giving an Account that a British Ship of War (the Swift) in chace of the Rattlesnake privateer, run aground near Cape Henry, & that the Crew to the number of 91 had surrendered themselves prisoners of War to Colonel Thomas Reynolds Walker, of Princess Anne,2 And asking the advice of the Board what was best to be done with the said Prisoners: They advised his Excellency to order Colonel Muter to send the officers to this place by Water, & the rest of the Crew, under a strong guard of Norfolk Militia, to Surry County, from thence to be conveyed by a guard of that Militia to Cumberland old Courthouse now in Powhatan County3 there to remain as Prisoners of War ’til further orders They also advised his Excellency to issue his Warrant upon the Treasurer for one hundred & fifty pounds payable to Lieutenant John Lightfoot4 & to be conveyed by him to Colonel Muter for defraying the Expences of the aforenamed prisoners on their march to Powhatan.

Adjourned till tomorrow 10 oClock

Signed  John Page
Dudley Digges
Thomas Walker
Nathl Harrison
David Jameson
Jas. Madison
Jos. Prentis

1George Muter.

2The Virginia Gazette (Williamsburg, Dixon and Hunter) of 27 November 1778, reported: “Last Monday the Swift, a British 20 gun ship, being in chase of the Rattlesnake privateer, run ashore on the Middle Ground. The crew of the Swift threw over her guns, but finding it impossible to get her off, set fire to her, and delivered themselves up to the commanding officer at Portsmouth. The Rattlesnake was drove ashore, and burnt also.” The “Rattlesnake,” commanded by Stephen Seymour, had earlier been commissioned to protect the port of Charleston, S.C. (Charles Oscar Paullin, The Navy of the American Revolution [Chicago, 1906], pp. 426–27).

3Powhatan County was created from parts of Cumberland and Chesterfield counties on 28 June 1777 (Journal of the House of Delegates description begins Journal of the House of Delegates of the Commonwealth of Virginia; Begun and Held At the Capitol, in the City of Williamsburg. Beginning in 1780, the portion after the semicolon reads, Begun and Held in the Town of Richmond. In the County of Henrico. The Journal for each session has its own title page and is individually paginated. The edition used, unless otherwise noted, is the one in which the journals for 1777–1781 are brought together in one volume, with each journal published in Richmond in 1827 or 1828, and often called the “Thomas W. White reprint.” description ends , May 1777, p. 112).

4Probably John Lightfoot (ca. 1744–1807) of Brunswick County who enlisted as an ensign in the militia in 1777 and was a captain in the 1st Virginia Regiment, continental line, before the end of the war (William and Mary Quarterly, 1st ser., XXIV [1915–16], 103; Brunswick County Court Records, Will Book, No. 7, p. 204, microfilm in Virginia State Library).

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