Thomas Jefferson Papers

From Thomas Jefferson to James Innes, 22 April 1781

To James Innes

Richmond April 22d. 1781. 8 o’Clock PM.

Dr Sir

Your favours of yesterday and to day came to hand about an hour ago. I am equally astonished and concerned to hear of your sufferings for provision. We will send off four waggons tomorrow with Flour, animal food and Spirit. I inclose you two impressing Warrants to obtain the means of transporting provisions to your Army and if you will let me know the number of waggons and Carts now belonging to your Corps and what Addition is necessary we will endeavour to supply you. I am in hopes you will give orders to Mr. Brown (who I expect is with you) to provide small magazines of provisions at such places as you shall think proper.

I would willingly have extended the impressing powers to horses for Troopers but that measure on former Occasions has given such Disgust as to induce me to avoid it. There is a Body of Militia Cavalry forming. About sixty are said to be already collected at Manchester who with the Infantry there and here (about 400) will I expect receive immediate Order from Baron Steuben, to join you. This is the fourth Day since the Orders for calling in the Militia were issued and those are the whole yet assembled at this place and Manchester.

The Account of the Arrival of the second Division of the French Fleet having been published here in a hand Bill I inclose you a number to be circulated among your troops.

I had a Letter [to] Day from the Marquis Fayette dated Baltimore April 17th. in which he informed me is hastening on by forced Marches to Virginia. I am &c,

T. J.

FC (Vi). The two enclosed “impressing Warrants” have not been found, but were broad in scope, as indicated in proceedings of Council: “Two impress warrants were sent to Colo. Innes for the purpose of procuring waggons, carts, teams and drivers, vessels and their navigators for transporting necessaries to the army” (Va. Council Jour. description begins Journals of the Council of the State of Virginia, ed. H. R. McIlwaine description ends , ii, 339). TJ also enclosed copies of a handbill announcing the arrival of the second division of the French fleet in American waters; the text of this handbill must have been that of the extract of the “Letter from Mr. Nicolson from Fredericksburg” quoted in William Hay’s first letter to TJ under date of 21 Apr. 1781; the printed version is not recorded in the bibliographies, and no copy has been found. There is no reference to this news of the French fleet in Va. Gaz. description begins Virginia Gazette (Williamsburg, 1751–1780, and Richmond, 1780–1781). Abbreviations for publishers of the several newspapers of this name, frequently published concurrently, include the following: C & D (Clarkson & Davis), D & H (Dixon & Hunter), D & N (Dixon & Nicolson), P & D (Purdie & Dixon). In all other cases the publisher’s name is not abbreviated description ends (d & n) for 21 Apr. 1781, though that issue contains an extract “of a letter from Fredericksburg, dated 17 Apr. 1781” concerning the movement of Graves’ ships on Chesapeake and a summary of information, based on letters of Innes and others, about Phillips’ movement up the James.

A body of militia cavalry forming: In addition to those assembled by Littleberry Mosby (see Mosby to TJ, 18 Apr. 1781), the following proceedings in Council on this day indicate that others had responded to the urgent need: “The Governor informed the Board that proposals having been made to him, out of Council, by Captains White and Webber to raise a troop of Cavalry each—he had accepted of them on the following conditions. They to find their own horses and accoutrements. Their horses to be good. To serve two months. To be subject to rules as Militia. The public to furnish pay, rations and forage. Grenadiers swords (to be returned). To ensure their horses against every thing but their own negligence. To credit this service as a tour of Duty. Commissions to be given to those who raise them: The Board approves of the conditions” (Va. Council Jour. description begins Journals of the Council of the State of Virginia, ed. H. R. McIlwaine description ends , ii, 339). White and Webber were not among those to whom TJ addressed proposals for a militia cavalry on 12 Apr. 1781 (see TJ to Robert Bolling, that date) but the terms agreed upon were substantially the same. Webber may have been Lt. Philip Webber of the Goochland militia; White cannot be identified (see Gwathmey, Hist. Reg. of Virginians in the Revolution).

Index Entries