« AnteriorContinuar »
passed Hood's, but anchored at Kennon's. Called whole militia from adjacent counties. I was then anxious to know whether they would pass Westover, or not, as that would show the side they would land.
Five o'clock, P. M. Learned by Captain De Ponthiere, that at two o'clock, P. M., they were drawn up at Westover. Then ordered arms, and stores, &c., (which till then had been carrying to Westham,) to be thrown across the river at Richmond; and at half-past seven o'clock, P. M., set out to the foundry and Westham, and set Captain Brush, Captain Irish, and Mr. Hylton, to see everything wagoned from the magazine and laboratory to Westham, and there thrown over; to work all night. The enemy encamped at Four-Mile Creek. I went to Tuckahoe and lodged.
January the 5th. Went early over the river with my family; sent them up to Fine Creek; went myself to Westham; gave orders for withdrawing ammunition and arms (which lay exposed on the bank to the effect of artillery from opposite shore), behind a point. Then went to Manchester; had a view of the enemy. My horse sunk under me with fatigue; borrowed one, went to Chetwood's, appointed by Baron Steuben as a rendezvous and head-quarters; but finding him not there, and understanding he would go to Colonel Henry's, I proceeded there for quarters. The enemy arrived in Richmond at one o'clock, P. M. One regiment of infantry and thirty horse proceeded, without stopping, to the foundry; burned that and the magazine and Ballendine's house, and went as far as Westham. They returned that evening to Richmond. Sent me a proposition to compound for property. Refused.
January the 6th. In the morning they burned certain houses and stores, and at twelve o'clock of that day left Richmond, and encamped at Four-Mile Creek. I went to Westham, ordered books and papers particularly from magazine. In the evening I went up to Fine Creek.
January the 7th. I returned to Westham, and then came down to Manchester, where I lodged. The enemy encamped at Westover and Berkley. It had rained excessively the preceding
night, and continued to do so till about noon. Gibson has one thousand; Steuben, eight hundred; Davis, two hundred; Nelson, two hundred and fifty.
January the 8th, at half-past seven o'clock, A. M. I returned to Richmond. The wind gets, about this time, to north-west; a good gale; in the afternoon becomes easterly. The enemy remain in their last encampment. General Nelson at Charles City C. H. Colonel Nicholas with three hundred men at the Forest.
January the 9th, eleven o'clock. The wind is south-east, but almost nothing. The enemy remain in their last encampment, except embarking their horse.
January the 10th, at one o'clock, P. M. They embark infantry, and fall down the river, the wind having shifted a little north of west, and pretty fresh. Baron Steuben gets to Bland's Mills to-night, nine miles short of Hood's.
January the 11th, eight o'clock, A. M. The wind due west, and strong.
Loss sustained by the public.
The papers and books of the Council since the revolution. The papers of the auditors, but not their books. Five brass field-pieces, four pounders, which had been sunk in the river, but were weighed by the enemy. About one hundred and fifty arms in the Capitol loft. About one hundred and fifty in a wagon on the Brook road. About five tons of powder, and some made ammunition at magazine. Some small proportion of the linens, cloths, &c., in the public store. Some quartermasters' stores; the principal articles was one hundred and twenty sides of leather. Some of the tools in the artificers' shops. Foundry, magazine, four artificers' shops, public store, quartermasters' store, one artificers' shop, three wagons.
The legislature was sitting when the entrance of the enemy into James river was made known. They were informed, without reserve, of the measures adopted. Every suggestion from the
members was welcomed and weighed, and their adjournment on the 2d of January furnished the most immediate and confidential means of calling for the militia of their several counties. They accordingly became the bearers of those calls, and they were witnesses themselves, that every preparation was making which the exhausted and harassed state of the country admitted.
They met again at Richmond in May, and adjourned to Charlottesville, where they made a house on the 28th. My office of Governor expired on the 2d of June, being the fifth day of the session; and no successor had been appointed, when an enterprise on the 4th by Tarleton's cavalry drove them thence, and they met again at Staunton on the 7th. Some members attended there who had not been at Richmond at the time of Arnold's enterprise. One of these, George Nicholas, a very honest and able man, then, however, young and ardent, supposing there had been some remissness in the measures of the Executive on that occasion, moved for an inquiry into them, to be made at the succeeding session. The members who had been present and privy to the transactions, courted the inquiry on behalf of the executive. Mr. Nicholas, as a candid and honorable man, sent me, through a friend, a copy of the topics of inquiry he proposed to go into; and I communicated to him, with the same frankness, the justifications I should offer, that he might be prepared to refute them if not founded in fact. The following is a copy of both :
1st Objection.-That General Washington's information was, that an embarcation was taking place, destined for this State.
Answer. His information was, that it was destined for the Southward, as was given out at New York. Had similar informations from General Washington, and Congress, been considered as sufficient ground at all times for calling the militia into the field, there would have been a standing army of militia kept up; because there has never been a time, since the invasion expected in December, 1779, but what we have had those intimations hanging over our heads. The truth is, that General Washington always considered as his duty to convey every rumor of an embarkation; but we (for some time past, at least)
never thought anything but actual invasion should induce us to the expense and harassment of calling the militia into the field; except in the case of December, 1799, when it was thought proper to do this in order to convince the French of our disposition to protect their ships. Inattention to this necessary economy, in the beginning, went far towards that ruin of our finances which followed.
2d Objection.-Where were the post-riders, established last summer?
Answer. They were established at Continental expense, to convey speedy information to Congress of the arrival of the French fleet, then expected here. When that arrived at Rhode Island, these expenses were discontinued. They were again established on the invasion in October, and discontinued when that ceased. And again on the first intimation of the invasion of December. But it will be asked, why were they not established on General Washington's letters? Because those letters were no more than we had received upon many former occasions, and would have led to a perpetual establishment of postriders.
3d Objection. If a proper number of men had been put into motion on Monday, for the relief of the lower country, and ordered to march to Williamsburg, that they would at least have been in the neighborhood of Richmond on Thursday.
Answer. The order could not be till Tuesday, because we then received our first certain information. Half the militia of the counties round about Richmond were then ordered out, and the whole of them on the 4th, and ordered not to wait to come in a body, but in detachments as they could assemble. Yet were there not on Friday more than two hundred collected, and they were principally of the town of Richmond.
4th Objection. That we had not the signals.
Answer. This, though a favorite plan of some gentlemen, and perhaps a practicable one, has hitherto been thought too difficult.
5th Objection. That we had not look-outs.
Answer.-There had been no cause to order look-outs more
than has been ever existing. This is only in fact asking why we do not always keep look-outs.
6th Objection. That we had not heavy artillery on travelling carriages.
Answer. The gentlemen who acted as members of the Board of War a twelvemonth can answer this question, by giving the character of the artificers whom, during that time, they could never get to mount the heavy artillery. The same reason prevented their being mounted from May, 1780, to December. We have even been unable to get those heavy cannon moved from Cumberland by the whole energy of government. A like difficulty which occurred in the removal of those at South Quay, in their day, will convince them of the possibility
7th Objection. That there was not a body of militia thrown into Portsmouth, the great bridge, Suffolk.
Answer.-In the summer of 1780, we asked the favor of General Nelson, to call together the County Lieutenants of the lower counties, and concert the general measures which should be taken for instant opposition, on any invasion, until aid could be ordered by the Executive; and the County Lieutenants were ordered to obey his call; he did so the first moment, to wit, on Saturday, December the 31st, at 8 o'clock A. M., of our receiving information of the appearance of a fleet in the bay. We asked the favor of General Nelson to go down, which he did, with full powers to call together the militia of any counties he thought proper, to call on the keepers of any public arms or stores, and to adopt for the instant such measures as exigencies required, till we could be better informed.
Query.-Why were not General Nelson, and the brave officers with him, particularly mentioned ?
Answer. What should have been said of them? The enemy did not land, nor give them an opportunity of doing what nobody doubts they would have done; that is, something worthy of being minutely recited.
Query.-Why publish Arnold's letter without General Nelson's answer?