Thomas Jefferson Papers

To Thomas Jefferson from George Weedon, 28 March 1781

From George Weedon

Williamsburg March 28th. 1781

Dr. Sir

Inclosed I have the honour to transmit to your Excellency a Copy of [a] General Return, by which you will see how inadequate the Strength of the Troops, under my Command, must be to the Service expected from them. Your Excellency was pleased to send me a supplementary list of Counties called on, after my Arrival at this place, of which, only Caroline and Spotsylvania have sent any men; indeed I cannot see how the Country is to be defended, when a Call of the Executive is paid as little regard to as it would be from those noways in Authority; and indeed those few that come into the Feild, only remain as long as they please, and then go back, some with their Officers at their heads, without consulting the Service or the Officer commanding.

I inclose you my Intelligence from below last night, and leave it to your Excellency to judge of the Propriety of assembling a stronger force than what we at present have. The Marquis and Baron both joined me in Opinion that while we were so weak on this side James River, it would be impossible to cover the Country from hence to Hampton; a Position, that subjected any part of our Defence to a Stroke from the Enemy, without our having it in our power to support any part. Under these Considerations, strengthened by Intelligence that indicated a Blow; the Troops were drawn to a point; and those who had continued in Service from the first of the Invasion were obliged from their distressed situation to be discharged.

I would also suggest the propriety of driving off all the Stocks from below Williamsburg, upwards. The Country [I am] informed contains vast Quantities, which no doubt the Enemy will forrage and support themselves with [our] means. I have the Honour to be with great Respect and Esteem Your Excellency’s most Obt. Servt.,

G. Weedon

RC (Vi); endorsed; MS mutilated, some words have been supplied from CVSP description begins Calendar of Virginia State Papers … Preserved in the Capitol at Richmond description ends , i, 603. Enclosures missing.

On this date Weedon wrote Steuben to inform him that he had sent TJ a general return of militia and had suggested the propriety of driving off the stock from the lower counties; to this he added: “I shall in consequence of your directions yesterday make partial Collections but think you and myself had better for our own justification have the Authority of the Executive before we carry the matter into full Execution. I would wish you therefore to impress the Idea on their minds and shall Act accordingly” (Weedon to Steuben, 28 Mch., Williamsburg, NHi). Intelligence from below last night: This probably included two letters from James Quarles to Lafayette, both dated 27 Mch. and the first being sent from Hampton at 10 a.m. (Vi): from these it appeared that the flag General Riedesel had not yet been identified; that the enemy had crossed over “with about Twenty Botes with troops on board” and were “strowed along the shore from Newport news to the Mouth of Hampton Creek”; that they may have landed at Portsmouth, but that no troops opposed them anywhere; that the enemy fleet could be counted on the 26th and numbered “Thirty Seven Sail in Whole that was in the Bay,” but could not be seen on the 27th “as it is so hasey”; and that, later in the day, the fleet lay off Sewell’s Point and numbered “35 Sail, including 5 Manowar.”

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