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Jefferson, Thomas (1743-1826) to Lieutenant of Berkeley Co. re: arrival of British troops & mobilizing militia

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Gilder Lehrman Collection #: GLC01636 Author/Creator: Jefferson, Thomas (1743-1826) Place Written: In Council [Richmond] Type: Letter signed Date: 22 October 1780 Pagination: 1 p. 27 x 23 cm

Summary of Content: Manuscript letter signed by Jefferson as governor of Virginia, ordering the Lieutenant of Berkeley County to mobilize a quarter of the county militia.

Background Information: Few Americans realize that much of the Revolution's bitterest fighting took place in the South. To replace the army that had been captured at Charleston, Horatio Gates (1728-1806), the hero ...of Saratoga assembled raw recruits in Virginia and North Carolina. He then rushed into South Carolina to halt the British advance. Charles, Lord Cornwallis (1738-1805) intercepted Gates' forces outside Camden, South Carolina, and devastated the poorly prepared army.
Buoyed by his victories, Cornwallis advanced toward North Carolina even before he had secured firm control in South Carolina. As soon as Cornwallis forces began to march, rebel guerrilla bands, led by such legendary figures as the "Swamp Fox" Francis Marion (1732-1795), began to attack British loyalists.
In October 1780, an army of frontiersmen defeated one wing of Cornwallis's army at Kings Mountain in northern South Carolina. Without support of his full army, Cornwallis was unable to suppress rebel guerrilla bands, which terrorized British loyalists.
In the fall of 1780, Britain under Benedict Arnold invaded Virginia. Thomas Jefferson was serving as governor of Virginia at the time of the invasion. In January 1781, Britain staged a second invasion, which resulted in the capture and burning of Richmond. Jefferson was forced to move the state government to Charlottesville; the state archives were lost, destroyed, or captured. A side expedition raided Jefferson's home at Monticello. Jefferson's governorship would be marred by this debacle during his last days in office.
Interestingly, Jefferson was so eager to secure Virginia's claims to the Ohio country that he had tried to send part of the Virginia militia to the region a few months earlier. The militia units, however, had mutinied and refused to leave Virginia.
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Full Transcript: In Council October. 22d: 1780.
Certain information being received that a considerable Fleet of the Enemy has arrived within our Capes, and have begun their debarkation I have thought proper ...with advice of the Counci of the State, to require one fourth of the Militia of you[r] Coun to repair immediately to Richmond, armed & accoutred in the best manner possible, let every Man bring his own Blanket. It is not necessary that any field Officer should come with them, as field and general Officers will be provided by the Executive. They are to be furnished with provisions by impressing it, as directed by the provision law giv the persons from whom they take it, a Certificate of Price & Purpose, & transmitting to me a List of all such Certificates. I am to request that you lose not a Mome Time in the execution of these Orders.
I am with the greatest respect
Yo. mo. Obet Hble Serv
Th: Jefferson

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People: Cornwallis
Francis, Marion
Arnold, Benedict, 1741-1801
Jefferson, Thomas, 1743-1826

Historical Era: American Revolution, 1763-1783

Subjects: PresidentRevolutionary WarMilitiaGlobal History and US Foreign PolicyGlobal History and US Foreign PolicyGovernment and CivicsMilitary History

Sub Era: The War for Independence

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