James Madison Papers

To James Madison from Edmund Pendleton, 20 November 1780

From Edmund Pendleton

RC (University of Virginia Library). This is apparently the only one of the many letters written by which still exists in original manuscript form (Pendleton to JM, 27 August 1780, headnote). How it alone survived is problematical. Perhaps the neatly printed “To James Madison Nov: 20th: 1780.” near its bottom margin was added by an autograph collector to whom JM gave the letter. The letter is not copied or noted in any of the several records of Pendleton’s correspondence.

Virga. Novr. 20. 1780.

Dear Sir

Just coming home I have but a moment to pay you my respects & preserve my Character of a Punctual, tho’ not of an Intelligent Correspondent, which you partially call me in yr. favr. of the 9th.1 as my time & matter are equally short. Not a word have I lately from the Southern Army, to join which Genl. Green pass’d Us on Wednesday last, travelling in Post haste & wth as little parade as might be.2

We have had a Skirmish below, in which we killed some, took 60, & lost only two.3 I just now saw a deserter from the Enemy, a Native of the Delaware State, who says he left them Monday, that they have had No reinforcement, are about 3000, & that they were embarking either for New York or Charles Town, some sd. one, some the other.4 I wish you health & am

Dr. Sir Yr. Affe. & Obt. Servt

Edmd. Pendleton

1Pendleton’s mistake for the 7th.

2See Jones to JM, 18 November 1780, n. 2. Pendleton’s home in Caroline County was one day’s journey north of Richmond. “Wednesday last” was 15 November; General Greene arrived in Richmond the next day.

3In view of the fact that in his letter to JM on 27 November (q.v.), Pendleton said there had been no such “Skirmish,” he evidently was not referring to the brush near the Great Bridge on 6 November between the British and Colonel Matthew Godfrey’s militia, reported in the Virginia Gazette (Richmond, Dixon and Nicolson) of 18 November.

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