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march 10 Virginia.
CHAP, VII. After weighing maturely the probable ad. 1781. vantages and disadvantages to be expected
from a return to South Carolina, earl Corn. resolves to wallis decided against this retrograde move.
ment, and determined to advance still further northward into Virginia, which had been invaded by a strong detachment of British troops commanded first by general Arnold, and after. wards by major general Philips.
In pursuance of this determination, his army moved from Wilmington on the 25th of April.
Virginia invaded by Arnold....He destroys valuable stores at Richmond.... Retires to Portsmouth.... Mutiny in the Pennsylvania line.... Sir H. Clinton attempts to negotiate with the mutineers.... They compromise with the civil authority....Mutiny in the Jersey line.... Mission of colonel Laurens to France.... Propositions to Spain.... Recommendations relative to a duty on imported and prize goods.... Reform in the organization of the executive departments....Confederation adopted.... Military transactions....Fayette detached to Virginia....Cornwallis arrives.... Presses Fayette over the Rapidan.... Fayette forms a junction with Wayne....Cornwallis retires to the lower country....General Washington's letters are intercepted.... Action near Jamestown.
THE evacuation of Portsmouth by Leslie 1781. afforded Virginia but a short interyal of repose. So early as the ninth of December 1780, a let. ter from general Washington announced to the governor that a large embarkation supposed to be destined for the south, was about taking place at New York. On the 19th, a fleet of transports under convoy, having on board about one thousand six hundred men commanded by general Arnold sailed from the. hook. The fleet was scattered in a storm, and transports containing about four hundred men were separated from the convoy. The rest anchored on the 30th in Hampton road. The Virginia next day, the troops were embarked on board Arnold vessels adapted to the navigation: after which
CHAP.VIII, they proceeded up James river under convoy 1781. of two small ships of war.
On the fourth of January they reached West, over which is distant about one hundred and forty miles from the capes, and about twentyfive from Richmond, the capital of Virginia.
Thus far, the immediate destination of Ar. nold remained uncertain. His movements equally threatened the two towns of Richmond and Petersburg; the first of which stands on the northern bank of James river at the falls or rapids, and the second on the Appomatox, which empties itself into James river a little above Westover. The latter had been the depot of continental stores to a considerable amount designed for the southern service.
Major general baron Steuben, who still remained in Virginia, supposing Petersburg to be the immediate object of the British army, ordered the new levies amounting to less than two hundred men, to that place; and directed them to move the public stores out of the reach of the enemy.
The lower country of Virginia, extending from the ocean to the falls of its rivers, is par. ticularly unfavourable to the prompt assem. blage of militia. The white population is not numerous, and is divided by large navigable rivers not to be passed unless boats are previ. ously prepared for the purpose; nor then, if the smallest armed vessels should oppose the attempt.
On the first intelligence that a fleet had en- CHAP. VII. tered the capes, general Nelson, who was then 1781. at Richmond, was dispatched for the purpose January 2. of raising the lower militia; and orders were issued to call out those above, and in the neigh. . bourhood of the metropolis.
On reaching Westover, Arnold landed with the greater part of his army, and immediately commenced his march towards Richmond. The few continental troops at Petersburg were ordered to the capital; and between one and two hundred militia which had been collected from the town and its immediate vicinity, were directed to harass the advancing enemy. In the mean time, exertions were made to save the stores, partly by removing them up to Westham, a crossing place at the commence. ment of the rapids, and partly by conveying them over the river, the passage of which, baron Steuben, with his handful of continental troops, intended to defend.
The small party of militia detached to harass the enemy, was too weak to effect the object; and the day after landing at Westover Arnold entered Richmond, where he halted with about five hundred of his troops. The residue, amounting to about four hundred, including thirty horse, proceeded under lieutenant co. lonel Simcoe to Westham, where they burned and destroyed a valuable foundery, boring mill, powder magazine and other smaller build.
He destroys valuable stores at Richmond.
CHAP.VII. ings, together with military stores to a consi. 1781. derable amount. Several pieces of artillery and
a few muskets fell into their hands, and were either rendered useless or brought off. Many valuable papers belonging to the government, which had been carried thither as to a place of safety, were likewise burned.
This service being effected, lieutenant colonel Simcoe rejoined Arnold at Richmond; where the public stores, and a large quantity of rum and salt, the property of private indi. viduals, were entirely destroyed.
Leaving Richmond the next day, they arrived at Westover on the seventh; and re-embarking on the morning of the 10th, proceeded down the river. While the army lay at that place, lieutenant colonel Simcoe, at the head of less than fifty horse, attacked and dispersed a body of militia at Charles City court-house, with the loss of only one man killed and three wounded.
The militia were now assembling in consi. derable numbers; but it was found difficult to arm them. While baron Steuben followed Arnold down the river, colonel Clarke drew a British party of about three hundred men into an ambuscade. After sunset, lieutenant colonel Simcoe, who commanded this party, had landed at Hood's; and, perceiving a small body of Americans who had been advanced for the purpose of tempting him to pursue them, followed