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To George Washington from Thomas Jefferson, 11 June 1780

From Thomas Jefferson

Richmond June 11th 1780.


Majr Galvan as recommended by your Excellency was dispatched to his station without delay,1 and has been furnished with every thing he desired as far as we were able. the line of expresses formed between us is such as will communicate intelligence from the one to the other in twenty three hours.2 I have forwarded to him information of our disasters in the South as they have come to me.3

Our intelligence from the Southward is most lamentably defective. tho’ Charlestown has now been in the hands of the enemy a month, we hear nothing of their movements which can be relied on. rumours are that they are penetrating Northward. to remedy this defect I shall immediately establish a line of expresses from hence to the neighborhood of their army, and send thither a sensible judicious gentleman to give us information of their movements.4 this intelligence will I hope be conveyed to us at the rate of 120 miles in the 24 hours. they set out to their stations tomorrow. I wish it were possible that a like speedy line of communication could be formed from hence to your Excellency’s head quarters. perfect & speedy information of what is passing in the South might put it in your power perhaps to frame your measures by theirs. there is really nothing to oppose the progress of the enemy Northward but the cautious principles of the military art. North Caroline is without arms. we do not abound. those we have are freely imparted to them, but such is the state of their resources that they have not yet been able to move a single musket from this state to theirs. all the waggons we can collect have been furnished to the Marquis de Kalb, & are assembling for the march of 2500 militia under Genl Stevens of Culpeper who will move on the 19th inst.5 I have written to Congress to hasten supplies of arms & military stores for the Southern states, & particularly to aid us with Cartridge paper & Cartridge boxes, the want of which articles, small as they are, renders our stores useless.6 the want of money cramps every effort. this will be supplied by the most unpalateable of all substitutes, force. your Excellency will readily conceive that after the loss of one army our eyes are turned towards the other, and that we comfort ourselves that if any aids can be furnished by you without defeating operations more beneficial to the general union, they will be furnished. at the same time I am happy to find that the wishes of the people go no further, as far as I have an opportunity of learning their sentiments. could arms be furnished I think this state & North Caroline would embody from ten to fifteen thousand militia immediately, & more if necessary. the following is a state of the force in and about to be in motion.

Colonel Buford’s regulars (of Scott’s & Woodfords’s men) 400.
Colonel Porterfeild’s d[itt]o of Virginia state troops 500
Colo. Armand’s horse 190
The remains of White’s & Washington’s as is said about 200
The Maryland & Delaware troops & artillery 1900
Virginia militia 2500
North Caroline militia under Genl Caswell7 in the feild 400
do embodying under Govr Caswell8 if they can be armed 4000

I hope e’er long to be able to give you a more certain state of the enemy’s as well as our situation, which I shall not fail to do. I inclose you a letter from Majr Galvan, being the second I have fowarded to you.9 With sentiments of the most perfect esteem & respect I have the honor to be Your Excellency’s Most obedient & most humble sert

Th: Jefferson

ALS, DLC:GW; copy, DLC: Jefferson Papers.

Jefferson again wrote GW from Richmond on this date: “Since sealing the within to your Excellency I received a letter from Govr Rutlege of which the inclosed is an extract. as it will correct & supply some parts of my letter I do myself the honor of transmitting it” (ALS, DLC:GW; copy, DLC: Jefferson Papers). The enclosed extract from South Carolina governor John Rutledge’s letter to Jefferson, dated 2 June at Salisbury, N.C., is in DLC:GW. Maj. William Galvan received the same extract from Jefferson. Except for incidental differences in spelling and punctuation, Galvan’s rendering of Rutledge’s letter to Jefferson is the same as the extract in DLC:GW (see Galvan to GW, 13 June).

1See GW to Galvan, 16 May, and to Jefferson, 15 May.

2See Jefferson’s Instructions to Express Riders between Richmond and Cape Henry, c.31 May, in Jefferson Papers description begins Julian P. Boyd et al., eds. The Papers of Thomas Jefferson. 41 vols. to date. Princeton, N.J., 1950–. description ends , 3:404.

3Jefferson apparently conveyed the “State of things at Charlestown” on 27 April to Galvan on 28 May (see Jefferson Papers description begins Julian P. Boyd et al., eds. The Papers of Thomas Jefferson. 41 vols. to date. Princeton, N.J., 1950–. description ends , 3:399–401).

4Jefferson assigned James Monroe to this mission (see Jefferson to Monroe, 10 and 16 June, and Monroe to Jefferson, 26 June, in Jefferson Papers description begins Julian P. Boyd et al., eds. The Papers of Thomas Jefferson. 41 vols. to date. Princeton, N.J., 1950–. description ends , 3:431–32, 451–52, 464–67).

5Maj. Gen.Johann Kalb’s Maryland division was then the only large Continental force operating in the southern department.

6See Jefferson to Samuel Huntington, 9 June, in Jefferson Papers description begins Julian P. Boyd et al., eds. The Papers of Thomas Jefferson. 41 vols. to date. Princeton, N.J., 1950–. description ends , 3:425–27.

7North Carolina adjutant and brigadier general William Caswell (1754–1785), son of Richard Caswell, had been appointed to that rank in January 1779. Caswell previously served as a Continental officer, joining the 2d North Carolina Regiment as an ensign in September 1775. The following April, he became a captain in the 5th North Carolina Regiment and was wounded at the Battle of Brandywine on 11 Sept. 1777. In poor health in 1778, he resigned his Continental commission. As a brigadier of North Carolina militia, Caswell fought at the Battle of Camden, S.C., on 16 Aug. 1780. He also served in the state legislature between 1779 and 1784.

8Former North Carolina governor Richard Caswell became major general in command of the state’s militia after leaving office in April 1780.

9For the enclosed letter, see Galvan to GW, 3 June; see also Galvan to GW, 2 June.

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