Thomas Jefferson Papers

From James Innes, enclosing a Letter from William Davenport to Innes, 20 April 1781

From James Innes, enclosing a Letter from William Davenport to Innes

Williamsburg. April 20th. 1781. 7 o’Clocke


Fourteen flatt bottomed Boats a ship two brigs two sloop’s and one schooner heavily manned, have just arrived at Burwells Ferry. From every appearance I think they mean to land, as they have halted with a favorable Tide. I believe they wait for nothing but the arrival of two schooners which have their Cavalry on board. These vessells I am this moment informed have just turned Mullberry Island point. I moved out all the stores at this post last Evening.

I have the honor to be respectfully Yr Excellency’s most obt Sevt,

Jas Innes Colo Com


Five Ships Five briggs three Sloops, four Scouners, are now in my Sight. Six and Twenty flat Bottom Botes. The Botes one Brigg one Sconer are Standing up the River some of them as high as the point of Hog island. I am Convinced they intend up the River.

I am Yr mo Ob H.

Wm Davenport

Colo James Innis

RC (Vi); addressed: “On Service … Express”; endorsed. Enclosure (filed with the letter in Vi); without place or date. Tr of Innes’ letter only (NHi); transmitted to Steuben on the following day (see TJ’s first letter to Steuben under 21 Apr.).

With little doubt this letter was written at 7:00 A.M., for it was quite evidently the first of the three letters written by Innes to TJ on 20 Apr. It reached TJ early in the morning of the 21st (TJ to Steuben, 21 Apr., first letter). The proceedings of Council for the 21st record that “A letter from Colonel Innes dated at Williamsburg seven oClock yesterday informing of the enemys standing up the river being read, the Board advise that … a Copy of Colo. Innes’s letter be sent to Baron Steuben, and that Colo. Innes be informed that every support within the power of the Executive shall be afforded him” (Va. Council Jour. description begins Journals of the Council of the State of Virginia, ed. H. R. McIlwaine description ends , ii, 339; extract in DLC: TJ Papers, 7: 1122a). Major Lomagne, who was then in Richmond, wrote Steuben: “Le gouverneur vient de recevoir la nouvelle de quinze vaisseaux anglois qui sont a barels ferry; comme ils pourraient de-barquer a richmond; jai cru faire mon devoir en vous envoyant un officier pour vous dire que je ne marcherai ny ne deliveray aucun cheval ni aucune arme que par vos nouveaux ordres” (Lomagne to Steuben, “Commandant in chief in Virginia at chesterfield court house,” 19 Apr. 1781, NHi; Lomagne must have erred in the date, intending to write 21 Apr.). Muhlenberg reported to Steuben that “The Fleet this morning at 8 o Clock … lay at Goosehill three miles above Burwells Ferry” (Muhlenberg to Steuben, 20 Apr. 1781, NHi).

Index Entries