James Madison Papers

To James Madison from Joseph Jones, 24 October 1780

From Joseph Jones

RC (LC: Madison Papers).

Virga 24th: Octr. 1780.

Dear Sr.

I very sincerely thank you for your Friendly and regular Correspondence. when I am in Richmond which I am in hopes to be the last of this week (being sufficiently recovered from my late indisposition as to be able to take the Bark)1 I will endeavour to make you amends by a communication from time to time of our proceedings in Assembly and such southern intelligence as may be worth mentioning.

I presume the last Post carryed you the account of our success agt. Ferguson’s Party by a Body of North Carolina Militia. It is said the News came to our Governor by Express from Genl. Gates. From Richmond Genl. Mulenburgh communicated the intelligence by Express to Genl. Weedon, but no doubt the Governor has given the Predident full information. Our account was that Ferguson and 150 of the Enemy were slain, 810 prisoners with a large number of Arms taken.2 Genl. Weedon who has hitherto remained in Fredericksburg is now under marching orders and is to set out this week from whence I conclude there are sufficient of our new levies gone forward to give him employment and to form two Brigades as Mulenburg being his Senior of course commands the first.3 I expect you will soon have Mr. Smith with you to succeed Mr. Walker. I hope he will avoid entering into and reviving those party contentions that when he was in Congress before so much disgraced that Body and I trust the Gentlemen of our Delegation will in general check every attempt that may be made to renew former disputes or to do any thing more than what Justice shall require. I own I have my fears Congress will again be drawn into Sects and divisions.4 what has been done with the alliance and what with Capt. Landais?5 In a former letter I wished to be informed what was the real cause of the disappointment that the 2d. division of the French Force did not come out, of the inactive Campaign in the W. Indies & the combined or rather the Fleets of France and Spain not combining in the British Channel. I shod. if it can be obtained be glad to hear the Sentiments of certain Gentlemen on these matters.6 Mrs. Jones’ indisposition has at length terminated in the third day Ague & Fever[.] my little Boy is some what better but his Mother is by a long and severe illness reduced to a skeliton7 With great esteem

I am Dr Sr. Yr. Friend & Servt.

Jos: Jones.

Be pleased to forward the inclosed by the Post.8

1See Jones to JM, 19 September, n. 2, and 9 October 1780. The “bark” means cinchona bark (quinine) or a locally found substitute for it.

2See JM to Jones, 10 October 1780, n. 8. Brigadier Generals George Weedon (ca. 1730–1790) and John Peter Gabriel Muhlenberg (1747–1807) were of the Virginia militia and Virginia continental line, respectively. Since March 1780, Muhlenberg had been in charge of the defense of Virginia (Henry A. Muhlenberg, The Life of Major-General Peter Muhlenberg of the Revolutionary Army [Philadelphia, 1849], pp. 181–204, passim). At the Battle of King’s Mountain, 7 October 1780, Major Patrick Ferguson (1744–1780) and 156 of his Loyalist troops were slain. The patriots captured 698 others, not including 163 badly wounded left on the field, and garnered about fifteen hundred muskets and rifles from the defeated enemy (Christopher Ward, War of the Revolution, II, 744).

3Perhaps unintentionally or because of lack of information, Jones implies that the “new levies” under Weedon and Muhlenberg were about to march to General Gates’s assistance in North Carolina. This had been their aim, but General Leslie’s invasion hurriedly diverted them to the Portsmouth area of Virginia in late October (Henry A. Muhlenberg, Life of Peter Muhlenberg, pp. 205–11, 378–79; Calendar of the Correspondence Relating to the American Revolution of Brigadier-General George Weedon, Hon. Richard Henry Lee, Hon. Arthur Lee and Major-General Nathanael Greene in the Library of the American Philosophical Society [Philadelphia, 1900], p. 23 [No. 16]).

4While in Congress in 1778–1779, Meriwether Smith had been one of the delegates opposing the coalition led by Samuel Adams and the Lees of Virginia. Although re-elected to Congress on 22 June 1780, Smith did not take his seat until 20 February 1781. John Walker left Congress on 22 November 1780 (James Curtis Ballagh, ed., Letters of Richard Henry Lee [2 vols.; New York, 1914], II, 69–71; Journal of the House of Delegates description begins Journal of the House of Delegates of the Commonwealth of Virginia; Begun and Held At the Capitol, in the City of Williamsburg.Beginning in 1780, the portion after the semicolon reads, Begun and Held in the Town of Richmond. In the County of Henrico. The journal for each session has its own title page and is individually paginated. The edition used, unless otherwise noted, is the one in which the journals for 1777–1781 are brought together in one volume, with each journal published in Richmond in 1827 or 1828, and often called the “Thomas W. White reprint.” description ends , May 1780, p. 58; Burnett, Letters description begins Edmund C. Burnett, ed., Letters of Members of the Continental Congress (8 vols.; Washington, D.C., 1921–36). description ends , V, 455; Journals of the Continental Congress, XIX, 176).

5See Board of Admiralty to Nicholson, 17 April 1780, n. 6. Captain Pierre Landais (ca. 1731–1820), commanding the U.S. frigate “Alliance” on its voyage from France in the summer of 1780, became demented and was forcibly removed from his position by some of the crew. Arthur Lee was a passenger on the ship. Shortly after it arrived in Boston, Captain John Barry was assigned to its command and a court-martial dismissed Landais from the navy. The “Alliance” left Boston harbor for France on 11 February 1781 (Gardner W. Allen, A Naval History of the American Revolution, II, 527–29, 547).

6See JM to Jones, [24] October 1780, n. 1. The “certain Gentlemen” cannot be identified, but they may have included Washington, La Luzerne, and Arthur Lee.

8What Jones inclosed is unknown.

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