Thomas Jefferson Papers

Steuben to William Davies, 23 April 1781

Steuben to William Davies

Petersburg. 23 April. 12 oClock

Dear Colo.

As I am unacquainted with officers commanding the Militia at Richmond, and it being my desire that of those that are Armed one half shall march immediately to Turkey Island and the other to the Long bridge on Chickahominy, I have inclosed the order, which I request you to communicate.

I only wait the arival of Colo. Senf, to visit hoods and Blands Ordinary, where I intend making the Disposition, to oppose the Enemy Should [he] come this side the River.

I am Dear Colo. [with] much esteem your most Obed humble Servt,

Steuben Maj: Genl:

RC (Vi); in an aide’s hand, signed by Steuben; addressed: “Colo. Davies at the War Office Richmond”; endorsed by Davies: “Barons orders for the commanding officer at Richmond.” Enclosure (NHi): See note to preceding letter.

The commander of the militia at Richmond was Col. James Wood, who had temporarily relieved Col. Southall. TJ, acting partly on the correct assumption that Steuben did not know at the time he issued these orders that Innes had crossed the Pamunkey and was therefore unable to “correspond” with the commanders of the militia at Richmond and Manchester, modified these orders (TJ to Steuben, 24 Apr. 1781). Other orders, which arrived in Richmond at 9:00 A.M. on the 25th, brought forth a response from Wood that could only have filled Steuben with understandable dismay and indignation. Wood replied to Steuben immediately that he had only 300 rank and file at Richmond, that the arms were rusty and in a poor state of repair, and that nothing could be attempted with any prospect of success by such men. “At the time I was prevailed upon by his Excellency Governor Jefferson to take a Temporary Command of militia,” Wood added, “I was attending the Executive by order of Congress, on matters respecting the command of which I have been upon for some time past. The peculiar situation of my Post will make it Ruinous for me to be Detained, which I make no Doubt Governor Jefferson has informed you. … Congress have directed that the British Officers of Convention shou’d be immediately sent to the State of Connecticut, which cannot be complied with till my return. Add to this, the whole Troops of Convention are at this time without Provisions, or money to procure them, and will remain in that Situation until my Return” (Wood to Steuben, 25 Apr. 1781, NHi).

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