James Madison Papers

To James Madison from Edmund Pendleton, 1 January 1781

From Edmund Pendleton

Tr (LC: Force Transcripts).

Virga Jany 1st 1781

Dear Sir

I have forfeited my reputation for punctuality, by omitting to pay you my Respects by last post, Which being Christmas day, I had fancied the rider would not move, but he did so, & without my letter. I am afraid you’l say it would have been no loss, If I had repeated the Mistake to-day, since I have not a Sylable of Intelligence foreign or domestic, except that we have housed a fine Crop of Corn, such as was never seen in Virginia before, & have hitherto had a charming winter. The account of Sumpter’s Success agt Tarlton, & of Colo Washington’s Compleat surprise of the Enemy, at least a party of them, are our last Accounts from the Southward,1 & I do not hear on what ground our Assembly fix’d the recruiting Bill which changed shapes as often as Proteaus.2 It is said they adjourned on Saturday last.3 I am glad to hear that the embarcation at New York was only taking place when you wrote your last letter,4 as we had supposed the reinforcement were already at the Southward—as it is, we have some more time for preparation. I fear not enough. pray what do you think of our New Appointment of something I know not what to call him, to Congress?5 Accept the Complts of the Season, & my wishes for your enjoyment of health & every Felicity, who am

Dr Sr Yr Affe & Obt Servt

Edmd Pendleton

1See JM to Pendleton, 19 December 1780, n. 3. Early in December, Colonel William A. Washington, utilizing a “Quaker gun,” a log propped on the stumps of three of its limbs to simulate a cannon, forced the surrender of a Tory outpost at Rugeley’s Mills, S.C. Gen. Nathanael Greene’s letter of 7 December, containing inclosures describing military operations in the South, reached Congress on 28 December 1780 (Journals of the Continental Congress, XVIII, 1199; Greene’s letter and inclosures are printed in the Pennsylvania Packet [Philadelphia], 30 December 1781).

2The sea god Proteus assumed many different shapes to avoid capture. The bill “for recruiting this State’s quota of troops to serve in the continental army” was revised several times during December before being enacted by the Assembly on 1 January 1781 (Jones to JM, 18 November, n. 6, and 2 December 1780; 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 , October 1780, pp. 36–63, passim, 78–79; Hening, Statutes description begins William Waller Hening, ed., The Statutes at Large; being a Collection of all the Laws of Virginia, from the First Session of the Legislature, in the Year 1619 (13 vols.; Richmond and Philadelphia, 1819–23). description ends , X, 326–37).

3The Virginia Assembly adjourned on 2 January 1781.

5Pendleton here grudgingly refers to Benjamin Harrison, appointed by the Assembly on 23 December 1780 as Virginia’s special delegate to present its military needs to Congress, to Washington, and to La Luzerne (Jones to JM, 2 December 1780, n. 7; JM to Jones, 12 December 1780; Jones to JM, 2 January 1781).

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