Richmond, April 23,1781.
On the 18th instant, the enemy came from Portsmouth up James river, in considerable force, though their numbers are not yet precisely known to us. They landed at Burwell’s Ferry, below Williamsburg, and also a short distance above the mouth of Chickahominy. This latter circumstance obliged Colonel Innis, 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 these entered Williamsburg on the 20th, and the other proceeded to a ship-yard we had on Chickahominy. What injury they did there, I am not yet informed. I take for granted, they have burned an unfinished twenty-gun ship we had there. Such of the stores belonging to the yard as were moveable, had been carried some miles higher up the river. Two small galleys also retired up the river. Whether by this, either the stores or galleys were saved, is yet unknown. I am just informed from a private hand, that they left Williamsburg early yesterday morning. If this sudden departure was not in consequence of some circumstance of alarm unknown to us, their expedition to Williamsburg has been unaccountable. There were no public stores at that place, 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, the taking them 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 General Greene since the 6th instant, except that his head-quarters were on Little river on the 11th.
I have the honor to be, with the highest respect and esteem,
your Excellency’s most obedient
and most humble servant,
LETTER LV.—TO GENERAL WASHINGTON, May 9, 1781
TO HIS EXCELLENCY GENERAL WASHINGTON.
Richmond, May 9, 1781.
Since the last letter which I had the honor of addressing to your Excellency, the military movements in this State, except a very late one, have scarcely merited communication.
The enemy, after leaving Williamsburg, came directly up James river and landed at City Point, being the point of land on the southern side of the confluence of Appomatox and James rivers. They marched up to Petersburg, where they were received by Baron Steuben with a body of militia somewhat under one thousand, who, though the enemy were two thousand and three hundred strong, disputed the ground very handsomely, two hours, during which time the enemy gained only one mile, and that by inches. Our troops were then ordered to retire over a bridge, which they did in perfectly good order. Our loss was between