I am, with great respect and esteem,
Gentlemen, your most obedient servant,
LETTER LVII.—TO GENERAL WASHINGTON, May 28,1781
TO HIS EXCELLENCY GENERAL WASHINGTON.
Charlottesville, May 28,1781.
I make no doubt you will have heard, before this shall have the honor of being presented to your Excellency, of the junction of Lord Cornwallis with the force at Petersburg under Arnold, who had succeeded to the command on the death of Major General Phillips. I am now advised that they have evacuated Petersburg, joined at Westover a reinforcement of two thousand men just arrived from New York, crossed James river, and on the 26th instant were three miles advanced on their way towards Richmond; at which place Major General the Marquis Fayette lay with three thousand men, regulars and militia: these being the whole number we could arm, until the arrival of the eleven hundred arms from Rhode Island, which are, about this time, at the place where our public stores are deposited, The whole force of the enemy within this State, from the best intelligence I have been able to get, is, I think, about seven thousand men, infantry and cavalry, including also the small garrison left at Portsmouth. A number of privateers, which are constantly ravaging the shores of our rivers, prevent us from receiving any aid from the counties lying on navigable waters: and powerful operations meditated against our western frontier, by a joint force of British and Indian savages, have, as your Excellency before knew, obliged us to embody between two and three thousand men in that quarter. Your Excellency will judge from this state of things, and from what you know of our country, what it may probably suffer during the present campaign. Should the enemy be able to produce no opportunity of annihilating the Marquis’s army, a small proportion of their force may yet restrain his movements effectually, while the greater part are employed, in detachment, to waste an unarmed country, and lead the minds of the people to acquiescence under those events, which they see no human power prepared to ward off. We are too far removed from the other scenes of war to say, whether the main force of the enemy be within this state. But I suppose they cannot any where spare so great an army for the operations of the field. Were it possible for this circumstance to justify in your Excellency a determination to lend us your personal aid, it is evident from the universal voice, that the presence of their beloved countryman, whose talents have so long been successfully employed in establishing the freedom of kindred States, to whose person they have still flattered themselves they retained some right, and have ever looked up, as their dernier resort in distress, would restore full confidence of salvation to our citizens, and would render them