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TO COLONEL JAMES INNES.
V. S. A.
RICHMOND April 21st, 1781. Sir,— Within an hour after receiving your first Notification that the enemy were in movement we issued Orders to the militia of the Counties of Chesterfield, Prince George, Dinwiddie, Powhatan, Goochland, Hanover & Henrico to assemble immediately every man able to bear arms, and one half of those of Amelia and Cumberland and to bring with them the best Arms they had. They were to rendezvous at Petersburg and this place. Some volunteer Cavalry were also called for. These orders were communicated to Baron Steuben and the several letters of Information from you have been regularly & immediately forwarded to him. And I doubt not the moment the Militia come in and can receive (such as are unarmed) the Spare Arms from the South side of the River he will order them to your Assistance, now that it appears that yours is the post of their destination.
Tho' our orders calling out the Militia went out on Thursday morning not a man is yet assembled here. I am told the Powhatan Militia will be in to day. Certainly those of this County will be as early. This fatal Tardiness will I fear be as unfortunate to Williamsburg on this Occasion as it was for Richmond.
Be assured that no effort of ours for your Support shall be wanting and that the Resources of the Country as our powers will call them forth shall be applied to the relief of the part threatened. I must entreat you to let us hear from you daily while the scene is so interesting. P. S.
You observe we said nothing of the militia of the Counties near Williamsburg because we supposed you would of course call for as many as you could arm.
V. S. A.
TO COLONEL BENJAMIN HARRISON.
IN COUNCIL. April 22d, 1781. Sir, -We thought it best as I informed you in a former letter to call into service on this occasion the Militia whose families and property were not immediately exposed. Being circumscribed in our number of Arms it still appears best, that what we have should be put into the hands of those Militia. Were we to send any to Charles City we must dismiss so many Militia now collected here and at Manchester ; Experience has also shewn it preferable for another reason to put your Arms into the hands of those not exposed, because on the Enemy's coming into the exposed parts of the Country, the Militia of the neighbourhood will desert, carry off their Arms and perhaps suffer them to be taken off by the Enemy, we therefore think to retain the Militia collected & collecting here, who we expect every moment will receive marching orders from Baron Steuben & that yours should be permitted to take care of their families & property.
I am informed the Enemy have got possession of the ship-yard and that by the most unaccountable Inattention the Lewis & safeguard gallies have withdrawn up Chickahominy instead of James River.
TO MAJOR-GENERAL BARON STEUBEN
V. S, A.
IN COUNCIL. April 22d, 1781. Sir,-1 inclose you two Letters just received from Colo Innes. We are in great anxiety for him. His force we are told is very considerably reduced by Desertion and he has no Cavalry. I make no doubt you see how far it is necessary to send him reinforcements & will order them accordingly. I have no return of the numbers of militia here; indeed it is changing every hour by the arrival of others; Report makes three or four hundred at this place & Manchester; The new raised Cavalry or a due proportion of it may perhaps be of singular use to him. We have determined to remove our Armourer's shop to the Fork of James River immediately. Colo Davies expects they will be at work there within ten days and that he shall be able to procure a very considerable number of hands there. Considering the greater security of that place than Powhatan Courthouse and the little probability from General Muhlenburg's letter of removing the Armourers from Broadwater, perhaps you will think it better that our Armourers should all be employed together at the Fork under Colo Davies's Direction than to send any part of them to Powhatan Courthouse.
We made a proposition to the Militia of Prince George, which we had reason to believe would have effected the immediate Completion of the work at Hood's. It was that any man of that County who would go or send an able Labourer to work there 12 days should have six weeks credit on his Tours of Duty out of the County; Unfortunately the movements of the Enemy obliged us the very Next Day to call every man into the field
Nevertheless if you think it more important you will be pleased to permit such of them to quit the Field, as chuse to comply with the proposition. One caution may perhaps be necessary : that is to order those Militia to a separate position from that of the other Counties, lest the restraining the offer to the Militia of Prince George might produce an Idea of partiality and give dissatisfaction to the rest. One County will suffice for the execution of this work and it would be improvident to make the proposition to more. I enclose you some Intelligence which at this time of depression we thought it would be well to put in hand Bills and communicate to both Armies. I send a parcel to Colo Innes's and trouble you with those for General Muhlenburg's.
I received a Letter from the Marquis Fayette today dated Baltimore April 17th : he was then coming on by forced marches for Virginia.
TO THE PRESIDENT OF CONGRESS.
RICHMOND Apl 23d, 1781. SIR,—On the 18th instant, the Enemy came from Portsmouth up James river in considerable force tho' their numbers are not yet precisely known to us.
1 A letter to Washington, of the same date and tenor, is in Washington's edition, I, 304.
They landed at Burwells ferry below Williamsburg and near the mouth of Chickahominy above it. This latter circumstance obliged Colo Innes who commanded a body of militia, stationed on that side the river to cover the country from depredation, to retire upwards lest he should be placed between their two bodies. One of those entered Williamsburg on the 20th and the other proceeded to a Shipyard we had on Chickahominy. What injury they did there I am not yet informed. I take for granted they have burnt an unfinished 20 Gun ship we had there. Such of the stores belonging to the yard as were movable had been carried some miles higher up the river. Two small gallies also retired up the river. Whether by this either the stores or gallies were saved is yet unknown. I am just informed from a private hand that they left Wmsburg early yesterday morning. If this sudden departure was not in consequence of some circumstance of alarm unknown to us their expedition to Wmsburg has been unaccountable. There were no publick stores there but those which were necessary for the daily subsistence of the men there.
Where they mean to descend next the event alone can determine. Besides harassing our militia with this kind of war, their being taken from their farms at the interesting season of planting their Corn will have an unfortunate effect on the crop of the ensuing year.
I have heard nothing certain of Genl. Greene since the 6th instant except that his headquarters were on little river on the 11th.