Thomas Jefferson Papers

To Thomas Jefferson from William Tatham, 18 July 1807

Lynhaven R: July 18th. 1807.

Dr. Sir.

I have just returned from Mr. Cornicks, on Linkhorn Bay, where I found a Masters Mate, Midshipman, & three Sailors of the Party I mentioned to you yesterday, who were taken by the Volunteer Cavalry, as I had expected they would be: I presume they will be sent up to you as hostages for the fate of our men taken out of the Chesapeake; as they would have been, by my Men, if they had been armed when they fell in with them. We do not learn that there were any more of them, and consequently I must have been mistaken in supposing others of their party; nor does it appear that they returned the fire of Capt. Reids party, nor are any of them wounded.– I am of opinion that it is very material to the United States that Lynhaven Inlet, &c, be surveyed & fortified: if only afterwards to be occasionally garisoned by the People of this Country, who are abundantly competent to its provisional defence.

I have just conversed with Capt. Shepperd & other Officers of the Cavalry, who were on their return from the Light House at Cape Henry:—We have nothing new there, nor any Boats on Shore this way; though we suspect the tenders are gone up towards Hampton Road, or James River. This might, possibly, be the reason why the Ships did not send to relieve those on Shore, when they must have seen them in difficulty, at the commencement of the Thunder Squall which accompanied this little act of partial retaliation: Capt. Reid passed the Inlet, in a Canoe, with five men, after the Storm abated; & took possession of the Boat from which the British fled. It is said that the tender got off, in the night, after I left the scene of action for Norfolk.

There are in Lynhaven Bay, at this moment, 3 of the British Ships:—I take them to be the Bellona, Leopard, & Melampus. I shall go out after dinner, & take another look at them: I have also in view, for that trip, the extention of my Express to Cape Henry; and a trial of my boat with a new Set of Oars.

I have the honor to be Sir, Yr. H Servt.

Wm Tatham

P.S. I wish to God some old Officer was sent among us who would introduce order, economy, & discipline, in lieu of shew, puffs, & good eating & drinking.—If feasts, popular toasts, fine speeches, patriotic professions, & self important airs, were weapons of effective offence we should drive all our Enemies “into the Red Sea”!

Unfortunately for our Cavalry they form a pretty show; and this may account, in part, for the practice of marching entire troops upon a Patrole, where a single file would be sufficient. Yet we seem so blinded by the gaudy parade of the thing, that we seem not to discover any economical distinction between marching every Horse fifty miles; & dividing the number of miles by the distributive ratio of enough, & prudent service.

W. T.

Lynhaven 3. O.Clock—

DNA: RG 59—ML—Miscellaneous Letters.

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