To Dudley Digges, Joseph Prentis, and Meriwether Smith
In Council August 28. 1780
The disaster which has lately befallen our Army under the command of Major General Gates calls on me for an immediate and great exertion to stop the progress of the enemy, if nothing can be done.1 The measures most likely to effect this are difficult both in choice and execution. I wish therefore to have the advice of as full a board as can be collected before any thing is finally determined; and for this purpose must beg the favor of your attendance at the board on Friday next, when I propose to take the advice of Council on this subject.
I am Gent. Your most obedient servant,
FC (Vi, photostat from Brit. Mus.: Add. MSS 38,650).
Friday next: 1 Sep. 1780.
1. It is likely that the clerk, in making the FC of this circular letter, omitted a line or otherwise garbled what appears here as the initial sentence, since it seems more probable that TJ would have written “… General Gates calls on me” than “The disaster … calls on me.” If this assumption is correct, a conjectural reading of the beginning of the letter would be: “The disaster which has lately befallen our Army under the command of Major General Gates [is ‥‥ General Gates now] calls on me for an immediate and great exertion to stop the progress of the enemy, [and asks] if nothing can be done.” The final clause in this passage (“if nothing can be done”) is both ungrammatical and meaningless unless it is assumed that something has been omitted.