Thomas Jefferson Papers

To Thomas Jefferson from Steuben, 7 March 1781

From Steuben

Williamsburg 7 March 81


I arrived here yesterday Evening and am sorry to inform your Excellency that there has been no appearance of the French Fleet since they went out—on the contrary the Bay is full of British Cruizers and three Vessells lay in Lynhaven bay. The Dispatches your Excellency and myself sent had not left York Yesterday.

I must request your Excellency to provide four Surgeons and 4 Mates with proper Instruments and Bandages for the Troops on the south side the River. There is a probability of their being wanted in the course of the Expedition.

An Officer with four pieces of Artillery was ordered to remain at Richmond but contrary to my orders has I am informed gone to Chesterfield. I must beg your Excellency to direct one of the Vessells to take in these cannon. Colo. Davis will correspond with you on the subject.

The Powder must be shipped on board the Vessells which are to come down.

FC (NHi); endorsed.

The dispatches … sent: See TJ to Lafayette, 2 Mch. and to the Commanding Officer of the French Squadron, 4 Mch. 1781. For the movements of the French fleet see TJ to James Maxwell, 16 Feb. 1781, and references there. Surgeons and … mates: On 8 Mch. Matthew Pope wrote William Davies (RC: Vi) asking Davies’ assistance in procuring the surgeons and mates which TJ and Steuben had requested to be sent to join Gen. Muhlenberg, stating that experienced men of this profession were difficult to find on short warning. Steuben, during these early days of March, plunged vigorously into the preparations for the expedition against Portsmouth. On 28 Feb. he was in Chesterfield and the next two days in Richmond; 5 Mch. he was back in Chesterfield drawing up his somewhat unrealistic plan for the defence of the state (Steuben to TJ, 5 Mch.); on 6 Mch. he arrived in Williamsburg and by mid-morning of the 7th he was in Yorktown, returning to Williamsburg on the 8th. (The present letter, therefore, was evidently written in the early morning of the 7th.) Surgeons: On 19 Mch. Matthew Pope wrote Steuben that he had “complied with your request to his Excellency the Governor for a number of surgeons and mates to attend you wherever and whenever you may want them” (NHi).

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