Copyright 1999. Rhode Island Historical Society. All rights reserved.
My dear Genl
When your first letter of 15th Ulto came to hand, I was just seting out from Richmond where I had returned by the desire of the Baron in one week after my last letter to you, for the purpose of Arranging the Virginia line. This however could not at that time be effected, for want of proper notice being sent abroad to the dispersed Officers, which is now done and a General Meeting of them Ordered the 20th of Next Month at Chesterfield. After rangling with the Assembly one whole fortnight made a shift to get some measures adopted tending to the good of the Service in General, and much to the Advantage of our line in particular. I had got home again but three days (in which time your second favr 26th of December came to hand) before I recd an Express informing me of the present Invasion. Immediately Assembled 350 men who I armed and Equipt from the Factory in Town and march as far as Hanover Court, before I was officially informd of their having Carried Richmond by a Coup de Main, Distroyed the Foundery, Magazine, and boring mill at West Ham, 300 Stand of Small Arms and five Brass Field pieces 4 Pounders; the Account[?] Books and papers for the year 1779 & 1780, Some Quarter Masters Stores, the Publick Factories & Artificers Tools with a very large Quantity of rum and Salt in Richmond, all which was effected in 23 hours, and a safe retreat to their Camp at Westover & Barkley without firing a shot. This you'll say is a pritty tale to tell. Two or three visits of this kind will I hope open the Eyes of our wise heads. From Hanover Court Baron Steuben directed me back to afford Protection to Hunters workes which lay more Exposed than Richmond, and but Seven Miles from Potowmack Creek. I have been so engaged in raising the Militia and Arranging them, and so tossed about previous to this piece of business that have never had an opertunity till the present moment of thanking you for your attention in your two letters.
Upon my being sent to the defence of Potowmack was determined to be fully prepared for Mr Arnolds reception and in a very few days had a force of 1400 men Assembled, among them 500 Riflemen, beside the Counties adjacent being Ordered to embody and lay ready for a moments warning. The Enemy landing below and indicating a design to possess the lower parts of Virginia as you very wisely Suggested in a former letter to me, I have detached the 500 Rifle men to the aid of the Baron, who writes to me for reinforcment. I have it however in my power to replace them with equally as good men and have given the necessary Directions for that purpose.
You judge right when you say we are strong. is wanting but prudent Measures to make us Independent. A wise Nation after Six years war would Certainly be prepared with the means of defence, but so far has private gratification predominated over publick Security that at this day we are found without any Military arrangment worthy the Attention of a petty people. I lement exceedingly your Situation, and be Assured every Exertion in my power shall be strained to Succour and Support you. The present Divertion in Virginia shall not prevent Supplies going forward if I have any influence, for if we have not Virtue enough remaining in the body of the people to Oppose a set of Ragamuffins, headed by the greatest Rascal on Earth, let us Suffer rather than loose sight of the grand Object. The designs of this British General is fully Assertained, and what they cant effect by Arms, will endeavour to do by Bribery & Deception.
The Pennsylvania line mutinied the other day on being Ordered forward. They shot down two of their Officers and made prisoners of the rest. One of their Sarjts was Appointed by the men to Command them. He was nominated a Brigr Genl and treated with a Committee of Congress, & a Committee of the State, before things ware Accomodated. Sr Harry Clinton sent them an invitation in a few hours after it first break out, to march to New York where they should be paid their Arrears, Cloathed & c & c, and then have it in their Choice to Enlist with him or not. The messangers ware Caught and hanged & the whole disturbence has been Ex[c]ited by British Deserters enlisted into that line, and no doubt sent out Orginally for that particular purpose. They discharged a whole Volly at our friend Walter Stewart, but his Guardian Angle Shielded him from danger.
I found Claiborne in Fredericksburg on my return from the first Invasion, and took him down with me to Richmond, with a View of introducing him into the line; but as no Arrangment took place at that time, I got him Appointed Q. Master of the State, and shall closely attend to his interest when the Arrangment is made.
I see you have changed your Position, and from the knowledge conveyed to me by maps think it a very judicious Step. I am pleased to hear you have the Confidence of the people, which was totally lost to your Predecessor. I know the goodness of your Soul, and am not afraid of yr being disgraced as I well know every thing that can be done by an officer, will be fully Executed by you. Struggle on my dear General, and fight Shy till we can reinforce you in doing which I can Venture to assure you no time shall be lost.
am with Very high Esteem and Regd yr affectionate Fd & hbl Servt
The Papers of General Nathanael Greene,
ed. Dennis Conrad et al.
(Columbia, S.C.: Model Editions Partnership, 1999). Full texts of documents calendared in
The Papers of General Nathanael Greene
(Chapel Hill, N.C.: University of North Carolina Press, 1994), Vol. 7, pp. 152-289. On the Web at http://mep.blackmesatech.com/mep/ [Accessed 30 August 2017]