Thomas Jefferson Papers

To Thomas Jefferson from George Weedon, 27 March 1781

From George Weedon

Williamsburg 27 March 1781

Dear Sir

The Honble. Major Genl. Baron de Steuben will lay before your Excellency an expedition suggested by himself, which meets the full approbation of a Military Board convened on the occation and which may if agreed to by the Honble: the Executive, in a great measure terminate the War. I conceive it the best Policy in this State to keep the War abroad. In doing that we must make our Objects at a distance. One fixed Maxim in all Military operations is to support the grand contending Parties: as all other objects are thrown out merely to bring on a diversion and give an advantage to the side they support. We find the most decisive Strokes have been brought on by a Manœuver the least suspected and tho’ we may for a short time leave our Country much exposed: Our Movements will most assuredly oblige the Enemy finally to point to the same Quarter, when by forced Marches and vigorous exertions the object of our advance may be compleated and easy Service of course take place with respect to the Posts occupied by the Enemy in detachments. I therefore give it as my opinion that the Honble. Barons Plan should be immediately carried into execution keeping up a diversion on our Side, to engage the attention of the Enemy and to amuse the inquisitive.

I have the Honor to be With Esteem & Regard Your most Obt. Servt.,

G Weedon B G

RC (Lloyd W. Smith, Madison, New Jersey, 1946); mutilated: the date and salutation have been supplied from Dft (NHi). The latter is in William North’s hand and is endorsed: “Copy from Genl Weedon to the Gov 27 Mch. 1781.” This letter was no doubt carried by Steuben and presented with that of R. H. Lee of the same date.

The military board: consisted of Weedon, Lafayette, and Gouvion; see TJ to the county lieutenants of Montgomery, &c., 29 Mch. and note. Steuben probably intended Nelson to join in the appeal to the Executive, for Weedon wrote to Steuben on 28 Mch. in part as follows: “Genl. Nelson has been with me ever since you went away. He has been exceedingly unwell, and still is much indisposed. He begs his love to you, and requests me to Apologize for his not waiting on you at Richmond, being prevented by sickness” (NHi). For the decision on Steuben’s proposal, see note to TJ to the county lieutenants of Montgomery, &c., 29 Mch., and for the reason for this decision, see TJ to Weedon, 31 Mch.

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