To Oliver Towles
Richmond April 14th. 1781
The same very disagreable Intelligence which you have been pleased to communicate to me of the operations of our savage Enemy on Patowmac has come to hand from several Parts of that River. Colo. Skinker particularly had written on the subject of Arms. The Order I inclosed him tardy as the supply may be is the utmost it is in our power to do. From his letter we are to judge about a third of his Militia have Guns. These I suppose not to be very good, but they are unfortunately what we are obliged too generally to have Recourse to: the 200 Stand from Annapolis for which I gave him an Order are said to be very fine. The Defence of Hunters and the public Work at Fredericksburg are very important indeed, and I hope will be very particularly attended to by the adjacent Counties. No Intelligence from Portsmouth gives us Reason to believe that any regular forces have been sent on this expedition; so that we trust it is less formidable than some representations make it. The worst is that a Country vulnerable in every Point is open to insult and depredation to even the smallest force, yet important points may we trust be guarded. In effecting this we rely on your Exertions being added as we are assured they will be. I am &c.,
Towles’ letter to TJ with its “very disagreable Intelligence” has not been found; it could possibly have been the one written presumably on 14 Apr. “by the same opportunity” that James Mercer employed to send his of that date to TJ, q.v. If it was, then the date 17 Apr. in the endorsement of Mercer’s letter must refer to the date of a (missing) reply. Towles’ letter to Steuben of 14 Apr. 1781, quoted in note to Mercer’s letter, must have been substantially the same as that to TJ and probably bore the same date.