James Madison Papers

To James Madison from Edmund Pendleton, 11 December 1780

From Edmund Pendleton

Tr (LC: Force Transcripts).

Virga. Decr 11, 1780

Dear Sir

I take up the Pen merely to ask you how you do? Having nothing foreign or domestic to entertain you with; I have not even heard a word from the Assembly this two weeks; Yes I have one very unlucky circumstance to mention which tho’ it may seem of little consequence, I fear will have important effects in [the1] future. Our militia2 who turn’d out with the greatest alacrity are return’d with the most rivited [?] disgust, which is communicated to all others, so that it is announced in all Companies, that they will die rather than Stir again. They were very sickly & many died below, on their way back & since their return, all which they attribute to the Brutal behavr. of a Majr Mcgill, a Regular Officer,3 who had the command of them in their March down; besides forced & hasty Marches, which will hurt raw Men, they alledge that he wantonly drove them thro’ Ponds of Water wch might have been easily avoided, & would not allow them time to eat, thus travelling in their wet cloaths, they contracted laxes4 & Pleurisies, which proved fatal. This disgust I fear will prove a prohibition to the recruiting our Continental Quota5—if it produces none other bad effects. I am

Dr Sr Yr Affe

Edmd Pendleton

1As in the version of this letter, copied from the now missing original, printed in the Proceedings of the Massachusetts Historical Society, 2d ser., XIX (1905), 121–22.

2Pendleton means the Caroline County militia, which were called out to resist the British invasion of the Portsmouth area of Virginia from late October until about 20 November (Jameson to JM, 25 October, n. 2, and 18 November 1780, n. 10; Pendleton to JM, 30 October 1780, n. 1).

3Probably Charles Magill who, after service in the Virginia continental line, became a major in a state line regiment. Governor Jefferson apparently held him in high esteem, gave no hint that he was “Brutal,” and had used him, and would again use him, to maintain liaison with the patriot army in North Carolina (Jameson to JM, 30 August, n. 1; Pendleton to JM, 4 December; Boyd, Papers of Jefferson description begins Julian P. Boyd et al., eds., The Papers of Thomas Jefferson (16 vols. to date; Princeton, N.J., 1950——). description ends , IV, 243, 647–48).


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