Thomas Jefferson Papers
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Thomas Jefferson to Louis H. Girardin, 22 April 1815

To Louis H. Girardin

Monticello Apr. 22. 15.

Th:J. to mr Girardin

I return you the 15th 16th and 17th chapters which I have kept too long; but since mr Millegan’s arrival I have scarcely had a moment at command. I have made a few verbal alterations only as usual, except in the 15th where I suggest an alteration giving a more precise explanation of the transaction it relates to than your text had done. but I observe an omission of one of the most interesting episodes of the war as to the bringing off the prisoners taken at King’s mountain. it was a chase by a considerable British force sent to rescue those prisoners, after1 a much inferior party bringing them off, continued some hundred miles with a rapidity on both sides unexampled, pushed far into Virginia, close upon the heels of the retiring party which was saved at last by some accident of a swoln river or something of that sort. the whole continent was under anxious alarm while this chase continued, and it ended only at Staunton. I do not remember the commander on either side. I suppose General Moore, or some of the Campbell family most likely to recollect particulars, the former from memory, the latter the tradition of their fathers. I can state no more than what I mention here. but it is strange if all our histories have omitted it. I salute you with esteem & respect.

RC (PPAmP: Thomas Jefferson Papers); dateline at foot of text; addressed: “Mr Girardin Glenmore.” Not recorded in SJL. Enclosure: manuscript, not found, of chapters 15–7 of Burk, Jones, and Girardin, History of Virginia, vol. 4.

As published, chapter 16 of History of Virginia, 4:407–10, describes the events surrounding the American victory at king’s mountain on 7 Oct. 1780 and TJ’s plans for the disposition of prisoners traveling to Virginia. His memory of a dramatic chase all the way to Staunton by a considerable british force unsuccessfully seeking to free the prisoners taken at the battle is not repeated in History of Virginia and has not been confirmed. The captured Loyalists were in fact poorly guarded, and the vast majority escaped or were paroled within three months (Lyman C. Draper, King’s Mountain and Its Heroes [1881], 358–60).

Missing letters from Girardin to TJ of 22 Apr. and 6 May 1815 are recorded in SJL as received the days they were written, with the former described as sent from Glenmore.

1Word interlined in place of “of.”

Index Entries

  • Burk, John Daly; The History of Virginia search
  • Campbell family search
  • Girardin, Louis Hue; and J. D. Burk’s History of Virginia search
  • Girardin, Louis Hue; letters from accounted for search
  • Girardin, Louis Hue; letters to search
  • Girardin, Louis Hue; TJ critiques manuscript of search
  • Kings Mountain, Battle of (1780); TJ’s account of prisoners taken at search
  • Library of Congress; TJ prepares books for transportation search
  • Milligan, Joseph; assists with packing and transportation of TJ’s library search
  • Moore, Andrew; and Revolutionary War search
  • Revolutionary War; battles of search
  • Staunton, Va.; during Revolutionary War search
  • The History of Virginia (J. D. Burk, S. Jones, and L. H. Girardin); TJ’s role in the preparation of search