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draw about 12 miles upwards 'till more militia should be assembled. The Enemy burnt all the tobo. in the Warehouses at Petersburg and its neighbourhood. They afterwards proceeded to Osbornes where they did the same & also destroyed the residue of the publick armed vessels & several of private property & then came to Manchester which is on the hill opposite this place.
By this time Majr: Genl Marquis Fayette having been advised of our danger had by forced marches got here with his detachment of Continental troops and reinforcements of militia having also come in the Enemy finding we were able to meet them on equal footing thought proper to burn the warehouses & Tobo. at Manchester & retire to Warwick where they did the same. Ill armed & untried militia who never before saw the face of an enemy have at times during the course of this war given occasions of exultation to our Enemies but they afforded us while at Warwick a little satisfaction in the same way. Six or eight hundred of their picked men of light infantry with Genl Arnold at their head having crossed the river from Warwick fled from a Patrole of 16 horse every man into his boat as he could some pushing North some South as their fears drove them. Their whole force then proceeded to the hundred being the point of land within the confluence of the two rivers embarked and fell down the river. Their foremost vessels had got below Burwells ferry on the 6th instant when on the arrival of a boat from Portsmouth & a signal given the whole crowded sail up
the river again with a fair wind & tide & came to anchor at Brandon ; there six days provision were dealt out to every man ; they landed and had orders to march an hour before day the next morning. We have not yet heard which way they went or whether they have gone, but having about the same time received authentic information that Ld Cornwallis had on the ist instant advanced from Wilmington half way to Halifax we have no doubt putting all circumstances together but that these two armies are forming a junction.
We are strengthening our hands with militia as far as arms either publick or private can be collected, but cannot arm a force which may face the combined armies of the Enemy. It will therefore be of very great importance that Genl Waynes forces be pressed on with the utmost despatch. Arms & a naval force however are what must ultimately save us. . This movement of our Enemies we consider as most perilous in its consequences.
Our latest advices from Genl Greene were of the 26th ult. when he was lying before Camden the works and garrison of which were much stronger than he had expected to find them.
TO THE SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE OF DELEGATES. (BENJAMIN HARRISON.)
V. S. A.
In Council. May roth, 1781. Sir, I have the honour to communicate to the General Assembly an Ordinance of Congress of the 5th Day of April last for establishing Courts for the trial of piracies & Felonies committed on the high seas. Also certain Resolutions of Congress of the 16th & 23d of March on the Mode of paying debts and furnishing supplies of Money, and of the 20th of April relative to that part of Colo Hazens Regiment which belongs to this State.
In compliance with the Desire of Assembly expressed in their Resolutions of March the 7th I wrote to the Honble Major General Greene inclosing the said Resolution, and asking the favor of him to have such reports made to me as would enable me to proceed in the Execution of the Resolution. Copies of my letter and of his on the same subject, I now enclose, together with the copies of my letters to the Continental and State Quarter Masters who were employed in impressing Horses for the Enterprise meditated on Portsmouth. On the Discontinuance of that Enterprize most of the horses were returned to their owners, so that I am in hopes that the inconveniences, which that important attempt had rendered necessary, are now reduced within very narrow limits. Full returns are not yet made so as to enable us to state what the Public stands engaged for on that account.
The injuries which have been sustained both public & private on the late incursion of the Enemy have been very considerable. That they were stopped in their progress before they had completed the Circle of Depredation which they had instituted, we are indebted to the spirited opposition of our Militia, which obliged the hostile Army to be cautious and slow in its movements, and ultimately to the great Exertions of the honble Major General Marquis Fayette, who being informed of our Danger pressed forward by very great and rapid marches and arrived at the place with his detachment of Continental Regulars when the Enemy were already on the opposite hills. On the junction of his force with that which we had assembled they thought proper to retire.
Their Approach had occasioned a total removal of the public Stores from this Neighbourhood. This circumstance with the Disorder into which they have of necessity been thrown renders impracticable at this Time a compliance with the Desire of Assembly expressed in the Resolutions of March 21st, that the Condition of the Department of the War office should be laid before them. The Commissioner of that office is using his
endeavours to have them stored and arranged at a more interior situation, which done he may be enabled to procure accurate Returns of them. How these insults and losses are to be prevented in future, or whether they can be prevented, are questions fit for the wise Discussion of the General Assembly. A country so intersected by navigable Waters can be defended by a naval force alone; and where the Resources of a nation are not equal to the equipment of a respectable Navy perhaps nothing better can be devized than Gallies constructed on plans approved by experience; But an Asylum for these Gallies seems as necessary as the Gallies themselves, during the time of their construction as well as after it. A Battery on each river at a proper position, protected by such works as would require a garrison of a single company only, would in the opinion of the most respectable military Characters among us, protect our vessels and in a favorable position would stop the passage of any enemy so long as to give time for the assembling of Militia, or marching an army to the support of the post. Those small works are certainly within the compass of our finances. Yet we have in vain attempted to have such erected on each river. It has been found that money will not procure laborers. A Militia of freemen cannot easily be induced to labour in works of that kind. Slaves are by the Law excluded from the Militia, and wisely as to that part of a Souldiers Duty which consists in exercise of Arms. But whether male slaves might not under proper regulations be subjected to the Routine of Duty as pioneers, and to other military Labours, can only be determined by the wisdom of the Legislature.
Very great misfortunes are likely to be brought on us by the tardiness of our citizens in driving off their stocks of cattle, & still more their horses, on the approach of an enemy; this negligince has enabled the enemy to take possession of some of the most valuable horses in the Commonwealth, and to establish a corps of horse, which from their number and quality may become very formidable to this State.
I think it is necessary to inform the General Assembly that the State is at present without an Engineer. Lt Colo Warneck,
, who formerly acted in that Capacity, was made prisoner by the enemy at Westham, and should he be exchanged, it will remain questionable whether he shall resume the office. We have it in our power at present to engage Colo Senf, a gentleman eminent for his skill as an Engineer, his zeal and activity. But holding the Rank, Command and emoluments of a Colo in another State, with an assurance that the office will not be discontinued with the War, and it is not expected that he will relinquish these but on the offer of equal Terms from this State, which under the Act of Assembly of October 1776, the Executive are not authorized to engage. I cannot but add that I think he will be a valuable Acquisition and such a one as if lost will not easily be replaced.
Among the Losses which were sustained on the expedition of the enemy to this place in January last was that of all the Certificates of British sequestered property and paiment of British debts, which were kept among the papers of the Council. The entries in the books of the Auditors will doubtless supply them but lest any accident should happen to these, perhaps the General Assembly may think it prudent to direct the Certificates to be renewed under such cautions as be necessary to guard against duplicate certificates.
The Executive according to the desire of a former General Assembly, having appointed Mr Alexander Stewart to revise and report on the books of the late Colo. Wm Aylett, he has made a report which I have now the honor to enclose.
I am desired by Mr. Tyler to inform the General Assembly that he declines accepting the office of a Counsellor & by the honble Mr. Prentis to enclose to You his letter of Resignation.
V. S. A.
TO COLONEL FLEMING AND BRIGADIER-GENERAL
RICHMOND, May 13th, 1781. Sir, — The General Assembly have adjourned themselves to meet at Charlottesville on the 24th instant at which Time and place I am desirous of having a Board of Council.