From Brigadier General Charles Scott
Williamsburg [Va.] May 12th 1779
I have the unhappiness to inform You that the enemy have at last called on this State and found it almost totally unprepard to receive them, immediatly on their arival the fort at portsmouth was Evacuated with the loss of all the Military Stors there,1 there are now at Suffolk Smithfield &c. Vast Quantitys of public stors much exposd, this togather with the earnest Request of the Assembly which Your Excy has Inclosd2 has led me to Suppose it was proper for me to order down the New Leavys that are Colected at Fredricksburg & Alexa. and cannot march on to camp for want of Cloths for some time, I cannot but know that this is contrary to Your Excellencys Instructions to me, But as Circumstances Has so turnd up that I cannot march the Troops out of the State immediately, I thought It Best to imploy them this way and Hope it will meat Your Excys approbation.3 I am Your Excellencys Obt Servant
ALS, DLC:GW. The letter was sent “ Express.”
2. Scott enclosed a copy, incorrectly dated 9 May, of a resolution that the Virginia House of Delegates passed on 10 May: “Resolved, that the Governor be desired forthwith to dispatch an Express to General Scot, informing him, that there is great reason to apprehend an invasion from the Enemy on this commonwealth, and requesting him immediately to march such continental levies, as are now under his command, to the city of Williamsburg, and to call in such continental officers, as may be necessary for the command of the said levies, and are now within this commonwealth” (DLC:GW; McIlwaine, Letters of the Governors description begins H. R. McIlwaine, ed. Official Letters of the Governors of the State of Virginia. 3 vols. Richmond, 1926–29. description ends , 1:366).
3. Delaying the movement of the Virginia levies to South Carolina had, British Gen. Henry Clinton claimed, been one of his objectives in launching the raid on Portsmouth; but as Scott indicates in this letter, supply difficulties were going to delay the levies’ march anyway (see GW to Richard Henry Lee, 30 April, n.1).