Thomas Jefferson Papers

To Thomas Jefferson from William Langborn, 12 May 1781

From William Langborn

Tuckaho May 12th. 1781


I arrived here last evening in hopes of having the honor of seeing your Excellency. The reinforcements that you expected we should receive from Fredericksburg, and the Counties adjacent, have not arrived, nor have we reason to expect but a very small part of them shortly, from Genl. Wedons letter, which I inclose. The Marquis requests that you would please inform him of the number called in, the rifle men, the deficiency of Arms, when you think they may arrive, what number of mounted militia, all the Reinforce[ment] the General requests may be immediately ordered by your Excellency to rendezvous at Richmond. I think it necessary to forward a letter which was yesterday received from Genl. Nelson. In consequence of it the Marquis would beg leave to suggest to your Excellency the propriety and necessity there is for having immediately brought in, all horses that can possibly fall into the Enemies hands, he is informed that the Country exposed to the Enemy on the south side of appamattox abounds in the best horses of this Country. Should all those fall into their hands they will have Cavalry almost equal to our little Army. I have directed Majr. Claiborne to hold in readiness four Quarter masters who will be furnished with a small force of Cavalry, and proceed on that business as soon as they can obtain your Excellencys Warrant.

The Boats which was directed to be built are not yet about. I doubt not but your excellency is sensible of the importance of them, and have given every necessary order relative to them.

Tools seems to be wanting. I am informed that there are many men with Tools at the point of Fork, who are engaged to build storehouses, those men could be of infinite Service to us at this Critical time, should your Excellency think so, we may promise ourselfs a speedy supply of Boats and many other conveniencies which we can not do without.

Our Army are at present near King’s land, the Enemy from the latest accounts remain at Petersburg, except a Small party that advanced up the river for six or seven miles.

Genl. Nelsons Brigade of Militia will very soon expire, and will go home, unless they can have assurances of a relief.

I have the Honor to be Yr. Excellencys most Obt Srvt,

Wm. Langborn aide, de Camp

RC (Vi); addressed and endorsed. Enclosures: (1) Weedon to Lafayette, undated but acknowledging Lafayette’s of “7th Inst.” and endorsed “Genl Weedons Letter recd May 81,” hence written between 7 and 12 May 1781; promises to exert every possible means to reinforce Lafayette, but is sorry to inform him that the want of energy in the militia laws renders it impossible to say what force may be expected—“for Instance, Shanandoah was ordered by his Excellency the Governor to send 217 men. The whole that has come from that County as yet, are those sent with Major Galvan amounting to 60. Frederick was ordered to send down 267. All that I have got of them is 123. Barkley and Hampshire have not yet sent their men down. I have sent expresses after them, and I have also wrote the colonels of the other Counties for their deficiency. The Counties of Barkley and Hampshire are to send 500. I wish the half may arrive. I will however leave no stone unturned to get them. … We are totally destitute of arms in this part of the Country tho’ have hopes of eleven hundred stand in a few days. They left Phila. the 1st Inst. …” (PHi). (2) Nelson to Lafayette, missing; it was probably dated 10 May and must have contained information similar to that in Nelson to TJ of that date, q.v.

The Marquis requests … the rifle men: On 9 May 1781, Langborn, writing Steuben from Osborne’s at “3 oClock P.M.” said: “The marquis requests that you will forward on to this place all the riflemen that was expected at Richmond by the Governor, and any other militia that may arrive. Should there be any good armourers in amongst the new levies the Genl begs you will send three or four with what tools they can collect” (NHi).

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