Thomas Jefferson Papers

From Thomas Jefferson to the County Lieutenants of Charlotte and Certain Other Counties, 2 January 1781

To the County Lieutenants of Charlotte and Certain Other Counties

Richmond Jany. 2d. 1781.


The Arrival of a hostile force within our State being confirmed, and their movements indicating an intention to come immediately into the heart of the Country, renders it necessary, to call for one fourth1 of your Militia under proper Captains and Subaltern officers to rendezvous at Petersburg.2 That there may not be a moments delay, let them come in detached parcels as they can be collected, every man who has arms bringing them. The good of the service requires that the field officers at least should be experienced in the Service. For this reason these will be provided at the rendezvous. I beg that this may not be consider’d by the Militia field officers as proceeding from a want of respect to them. We know and confide in their zeal: but it cannot be disreputable to them to be supposed less knowing in the art of War, than those who have had greater experience in it, and being less knowing, I am sure that, that true spirit of patriotism with which they are animated will lead them to wish that measure to be adopted which will most promote the public safety, however it may tend to keep them from the post in which they would wish to appear in defence of their Country. The Militia must be subsisted to their rendezvous under the rules of the Invasion law; a list of all certificates given being kept and returnd to the Auditors.

I am Sir with respect, your mo. Obt. Servt.,

Th: Jefferson

RC (O. O. Fisher, Detroit, 1950); in a clerk’s hand with the exceptions noted below; signed and addressed by TJ: “County Lieutenant of Charlotte.” Endorsed: “The Governor to Tho. Read. Ordering ¼ of the Charlotte Militia to Petersburgh. 2 Jan 1781 Recvd. 4th. of Jan. 9. O’Clock at Night.” FC (Vi); at the head of text: “A Circular Letter to the County Lieutenants of Henrico, Hanover, Goochland, Fluvanna, Albemarle, Amherst, Chesterfield, Powhatan, Cumberland, Dinwiddie, Amelia, Buckingham, Bedford, Halifax, Charlotte, Prince Edward, Lunenburg, Mecklenburg, Sussex, Southampton, Brunswick.”

On 8 Jan., Hugh Rose wrote to George Muter (RC in Vi): “Being entrusted by his Excellency with Dispatches for the upland Counties, I was constrain’d to leave Richmond in such Haste as to bring not one Article of my Baggage along with me‥‥ Our Militia turn out with great Alacrity, I never got up ’till late on Saturday Night, and hope to have one compleat Company with you by Friday next and the Ballance in a few Days after.” See also Hugh Rose to TJ, 26 Sep. 1781, and enclosures. One of the letters, which was probably carried by Rose, was delivered to Reuben Lindsay, Albemarle co. militia officer, who wrote to Capt. Michael Wallace, of the Albemarle militia, on 7 Jan. (RC in Vi): “I have received a letter from the Governor directing such a number of the Militia of this County to march immediately to Richmond. As the Near approch of the Enemy makes it Necessary that not one Moment be lost, you are hereby directed immediately on the receipt of this to send down Twenty men of Your Company, armed in the best manner, under the Command of Lieut. James Read. He will be Joined by the rest of the Militia of this County on his way, or, at Richmond. Lieut. Read is hereby authorized to seize provision on his march, and to grant receipts for the same; He must keep a list of all such receipts so granted, which He must deliver to the auditors. I am inform[ed] that on Wednesday last the Enemy were landing within Twenty Miles of Richmond, which I am sure will be a sufficient spur to you and every good man to loose no time in hurring the Militia down.” (For Lindsay and Wallace, see Gwathmey, Hist. Reg. of Virginians in the Revolution.)

1“one fourth” inserted by TJ. FC has a blank here.

2This word substituted by TJ for “this place.” FC has a blank here.

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