George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Peter Muhlenberg, 8 May 1780

Fredericksburg May the 8th 1780


I was honor’d with Your Excellency’s favor of the 20th of April by the last post, and have carried the Orders into execution as far as possible. I am sorry it is not in my power to give Your Excellency a more favorable Account of the situation of Affairs here, relative to the Recruits and Drafts—On my arrival in Virginia I found the Governor was Absent from Williamsburg on a visit to Albemarle but was expected in a short time, either at Williamsburg or Richmond—I waited on him at the last place in the beginning of April, produced my Instructions from the Board of War; and agreeable to those Instructions requested his advice, which I receivd in writing—A Copy of which I do myself the honor to enclose—finding that but little could be expected from the Drafts and no Money in the Treasury to carry on the Recruiting Business properly, I wrote to the Honble Board of War at Philadelphia, enclosd a Copy of the Governors Letter & requested further Instructions, but have not yet receivd an Answer—On the 20th of April I wrote to the Governor, proposing Rocky Ridge a Town opposite Richmond for the place of General Rendezvous, & Winchester and Fredericksburg as by posts for the recruits to collect in small numbers—I further proposd as there was no favorable prospect of Recruiting (no Officer having inlisted near thirty in this Town in a short time:) I should call in all the Officers of the Virginia Line on Continental establishment, who were at present off duty—appoint their districts & send them out to recruit & collect the Deserters, provided the Treasury could furnish Money—I receivd the Governors Answer on the first of May, approving my proposals as far as related to the recruiting Business, but Objected to having Rocky ridge appointed for a Genl Rendezvous it being unhealthy and too near the Seat of Government, and proposd Chesterfield as a healthy and convenient Situation—This place I have accordingly appointed for the General Rendezvous—I have now by Advertisement ordered the Officers to Assemble at this place imediately, to receive Money & Recruiting Instructions, & I flatter myself they will have more success then was at first expected.

Before the receipt of Your Excellencys Letter I had allready wrote to the State Board of War, requesting the removal of the Sick from Petersburg to Rocky Ridge or some other convenient & healthy place. Doctor Brown was with me a few days ago, who approves the place with regard to its healthiness, We have wrote Jointly to Doctor Richman, who is at the Head of the Medical Department in this State desiring him to provide the Sick with Surgeons & other necessaries—as soon as I receive a Return of the Sick from Doctor Richman, agreeable to my request I shall transmit it to Your Excellency, from what I can learn their number does not exceed twenty—I have likewise wrote to Colo. Davies, desiring him to repair to Rocky ridge & take the Superintendance of that post, agreeable to Your Excellencys Instructions—but by a Letter I received from the Governor Yesterday I find Colo. Davies is allready at Petersburg, I have therefore written him to day to remove the Sick to Chesterfield agreeable to the Governors Letter—There are a Number of the old Soldiers who were reinlisted and furlowd who are not yet returnd, some of them I expect would be inducd to return, if promised a pardon from Your Excellency—as soon as the numbers of Recruits amount to fifty, I shall order them on imediately.

The last Authentic Accounts we have from Charlestown are from the 17th of April when every thing was safe. The town was summond on the 10th both the Summons & answer are in town but I could not procure them—else should have transmitted them to Your Excellency.

As soon as the Officers are Assembled I shall send the return, with what pay is due them, to the Board of War in Philadelphia—unless Your Excellency should think it more convenient for them to [derive] their pay in the State, as the Governor has been pleasd to promise his Assistance if necessary; In his last Letter he writes, "As to the pay of the Officers left in this State, the poverty of the Continental Treasury shall not prevent their receiving it, if You will procure Authority for them to apply to the General Paymaster here or any other single person, whose receipt shall be so authoritative as to [   ] our paying him Monies for that purpose and charging them to the Continent."—The 1st and 2d State Regiments are at present collecting at Williamsburg, I wrote to The Honble Board of War in Philadelphia at The request of the Governor, for Orders to send them on to Charlestown; on the 15th of April, but have not yet receivd an Answer—both Regiments will have about 350 for the War, I have wrote to the Commanding Officers for returns & shall transmit them to Your Excellency by the next post—I this Moment, just as the post is going out, have obtaind a Copy of Clintons Summons together with the extract of a Letter from Parson Hurt at Charlestown. “All our Light Horse were Surprised on Friday 14th of April, just before day, which has caused such a horrid tale to get abroad, that I think I shall give You pleasure in letting You know, Six or Seven Men were lost, The Major of Pulaskies killd, Captn Yancy and one or two others made prisoners—Colo. Washington & Jameson &a are safe—some troops and a good deal of Baggage was taken. I have the honor to be with great Respect Your Excellencys Most Obedt hble Servt

P: Muhlenberg

DLC: Papers of George Washington.


Camp before Charles-Town April 10th 1780

Sir Henry Clinton K.B. Commander in Cheif of his Majesties Forces in the Colonies lying on the Atlantic from Nova Scotia &c. &c. And Admiral Arbuthnot Commander in Cheif of his Majesties Ships in North America

Regretting the Effusion of Blood, & the distresses which must now commence, deem it consistent with humanity to warn the Town & Garrision of Charles-Town of the Havock & Devastation with which they are threatened from the formidable Force surrounding them by Land & by Sea. An Alternative is offered at this Hour to the Inhabitants of saving their Lives & Properties contained in the Town, or of abiding by the fatal Consequences of a Cannonade & Storm; Shou’d the Place, in a fallacious Security, or its Commanders in a wanton Indifference to the fate of the Inhabitants, delay a surrender, or shou’d the Public Stores, or Shipping be destroy’d, the resentment of an exasperated Soldiery may intervene. but the same mild & compassionate offer can never be renew’d. The respective Commanders who hereby Summon the Town, do not apprehend so rash a Step as farther resistance will be taken: but rather that the Gates will be open’d, & themselves received with a Confidence which will forbode further reconciliation.

H. Clinton

Adl Arbuthnot


Head Quarters Lines off Charles-Town 10th April 1780


I have receiv’d your Summons of this date—Sixty days have pass’d since it has been known, that your intentions against this Town were hostile; in which time has been afforded to abandon it but duty & Inclination point the Propriety of supporting it to the last Extremity. I have the honor to be Your most Humble Servt

B: Lincoln


Richmond April 10th 1780


THe State of the recruiting business in this Country is as follows. There are some draughted Soldiers in different parts of the Country, but they are so few, so dispersed, & enlisted for so short a time that we have not thought them worth the expences of gathering up. There is recruits raising under a standing Law concerning Officers, Soldiers, Sailors & Marines, these are enlisted for the War, by a person resident in each County, we have an Officer appointed who rides the circuit of the county once in two months to receive these Men at certain places of Rendivous, he has just finished his Circuit, and we have sent on about fifty of these recruits under the command of Captn Minnis to the Southward. All the Officers of the Virginia Line now in the State, who have (according to a request of the executive) applied for recruiting instructions & Money, have received them. These have been given with a particular view of reenlisting such Soldiers of their respective Regiments; as are discharged, or entitled to a discharge. I hear they are tolerably successfull; as to the 1st & 2nd State Regiments particularly, there not having been Money in the treasury enough to reenlist them at the time they became entitled to discharges, their Officers (as I am informed) postponed paying them off, give them furloughs to visit their friends till the 1st of May, at which time they were to Rendivous at Williamsburg & Fredericksburg, and it was hoped money would then be ready for reenlisting them in the Mean-time considerable sums have been furnished the Officers, and more will be provided, and there is good reason to hope this Judiciousness of their officers will enable us to recover most of them. Colo. Harrisons Regiment of Artillery is very considerably recruited. Under the preceding state of things, I do not know of any immediate Services with which we need to trouble you; perhaps you could be instrumental in geting orders from the proper authority for such of the above Regiments, as are not yet ordered to the Southward to March thither by fifties as fast as they are recruited—we have such orders for all other new recruits not yet regimented; but I do not consider those as orders authorising the March of Men raised by the Officers of a particular Battalion for their Battalion and that not under Marching orders. I have the Honor to be with great Respect Yr most Obt & Most Hble servt

Th. Jefferson

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