Thomas Jefferson Papers

To Thomas Jefferson from Steuben, 23 February 1781

From Steuben

Ch[esterfield] Co. Ho. 23 Feb. 3 oClock PM

Till it is decided whether Cornwallis will cross the Roanoke or not we ought at all events to be prepared for the worst for which purpose we may have occasion for the troops under the command of Colo. Innes to cross the James River and I shall send orders for him to hold him self in readiness to move at a moments notice. But previous to such a movement (if it should take place) it will be necessary to take some steps to protect the Counties of Elizabeth Warwick and York from any incursion of the Enemy. At Gloucester is a Magazine of 7 or 800 Stand of Arms which can be distributed to the Militia of these three Counties. This militia should be ordered to take arms on the first notice from the governor and I request that your Excellency will make choice of a Colonel of the Militia, who is capable to take command there.

Dft (NHi); in an aide’s hand; endorsed.

On 23 Feb. Steuben wrote the following interesting comment to Greene: “The departure of the French Vessells has destroyed all hopes of Success in an Attempt on Portsmouth. I have not, however, countermanded the preparations…. All this has not diverted my attention one moment from you. I have not ceased tormenting the Governor for the Cloathing for the troops at this place, but with all my importunity I do not think I should have been able to have Equipped them these 6 Weeks if a quantity of stores had not arrived from the Northward. From these I have drawn such Articles as I was deficient in and shall thereby be enabled to send off the detachment the 25th inst. The Governor informs me the militia on the frontiers towards you are all ordered out, by his Account you must have a Reinforcement of at least 2000 Men” (Dft in NHi; in part identical letters were also sent to Washington and the Board of War; Steuben no doubt referred to TJ’s letter to him of 20 Feb.).

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