George Washington Papers

From George Washington to Thomas Jefferson, 6 February 1781

To Thomas Jefferson

Head Quarters New Windsor February 6th 1781


I am much obliged to your Excellency for your letter of the 10th of January, giving me an account of the enemy’s incursion into your state. Baron De Stueben has informed me of their successive operations to five miles below Hoods.1 It is mortifying to see so inconsiderable a party committing such extensive depredations with impunity: but considering the situation of your state, it is to be wondered you have hitherto suffered so little molestation. I am apprehensive you will experience more in future: nor should I be surprized if the enemy were to establish a Post in Virginia till the season for opening the Campaign here. But as the evils you have to apprehend from these predatory incursions are not to be compared with the injury to the common cause and with the danger to your state in particular, from the conquest of those states southward of you, I am persuaded the attenti⟨on⟩ to your imediate safety will not divert you from the measures intended to reinforce the Southern Army and put it in a condition to stop the progress of the enemy in that Quarter. The late accession of force makes them very fo[r]midable in Carolina—too formidable to be resisted without powerfull succours fr⟨om⟩ Virginia: and it is certainly her policy as well as the interest of America to keep the weight of the War at a distance from her.2 There is no doubt that a principal object of Arnolds operations is to make a diversion in favour of Cornwallis—and to remove this motive by disappointing the intention will be one of the surest ways to remove the enemy.

We have just received an account that the enemy’s fleet employed in blocking that of our allies at Rhode Island has lately suffered severely by a storm.3 One seventy four is said to have been stranded and entirely lost on the East End of Long Island—another (some accounts say two others) dismasted and towed into Gardners Bay—and a ninety driven to sea in great distress—I expect every moment a confirmation and the particulars of this agreeab⟨le⟩ intelligence.4 I have the honor to be with sentiments of perfect respect and the warmest esteem—Your Excellency’s Most Obedient and Humble servant

Go: Washington

LS, in William Colfax’s writing, Vi; Df, DLC:GW; Varick transcript, DLC:GW. GW signed the cover of the LS, which was addressed to Jefferson in Richmond.

1For Major General Steuben’s report, see his letter to GW of 11 Jan.; see also Steuben to GW, 8 January.

2GW refers to the corps under the command of Maj. Gen. Alexander Leslie (see James Duane to GW, 2 Jan., n.5).

4For further reports, see Rochambeau to GW, 3 Feb., and Shaw to GW, this date.

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