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The Jeffersonian cyclopedia;

a comprehensive collection of the views of Thomas Jefferson classified and arranged in alphabetical order under nine thousand titles relating to government, politics, law, education, political economy, finance, science, art, literature, religious freedom, morals, etc.;

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8828. VIRGINIA, British invasion.—
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8828. VIRGINIA, British invasion.—

On the 31st of December, a letter from a private
gentleman to General Nelson came to my hands, notifying, that in the morning of the preceding
day, twenty-seven sail of vessels had
entered the capes; and from the tenor of the
letter we had reason to expect, within a few
hours, further intelligence; whether they were
friends or foes, their force and other circumstances.
We immediately dispatched General
Nelson to the lower country, with powers to call
on the militia in that quarter, or to act otherwise
as exigencies should require; but waited
further intelligence before we would call for
militia from the middle or upper country. No
further intelligence came until the 2d instant,
when the former was confirmed; it was ascertained
they had advanced up James River in
Warrasqueak bay. All arrangements were immediately
taken for calling in a sufficient body
of militia for opposition. In the night of the
3d, we received advice that they were at anchor
opposite Jamestown. We then supposed Williamsburg
to be their object. The wind, however,
which had hitherto been unfavorable,
shifted fair, and the tide being also in their
favor, they ascended the river to Kennon's that
evening and, with the next tide, came up to
Westover, having on their way taken possession
of some works we had at Hood's by which two
or three of their vessels received some damage
but which were of necessity abandoned by the


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small garrison of fifty men placed there, on
the enemy's landing to invest the works. Intelligence
of their having quitted the station
at Jamestown, from which we supposed they
meant to land for Williamsburg, and of their
having got in the evening to Kennon's reached
us the next morning at five o'clock, and was the
first indication of their meaning to penetrate
towards this place (Richmond) or Petersburg.
As the orders for drawing militia here had been
given but two days, no opposition was in readiness.
Every effort was therefore necessary, to
withdraw the arms and other military stores,
records, &c., from this place. Every effort was,
accordingly, exerted to convey them to the
foundry five miles, and to a laboratory six
miles, above this place, till about sunset of that
day, when we learned the enemy had come to an
anchor at Westover that morning. We then
knew that this, and not Petersburg was their
object, and began to carry across the river
everything remaining here, and to remove what
had been transported to the foundry and laboratory
to Westham, the nearest crossing, seven
miles above this place, which operation was
continued till they had approached very near.
They marched from Westover at two o'clock in
the afternoon of the 4th, and entered Richmond
at one o'clock in the afternoon of the 5th.
A regiment of infantry and about thirty horse
continued on, without halting, to the foundry.
They burned that, the boring mill, the magazine
and two other houses, and proceeded to Westham;
but nothing being in their power there,
they retired to Richmond. The next morning,
they burned some buildings of public and private
property, with what stores remained in
them, destroyed a great quantity of private
stores and, about twelve o'clock, retired towards
Westover, where they encamped within the neck
the next day. The loss sustained is not yet
accurately known. As far as I have been able
to discover, it consisted, at this place, of about
three hundred muskets, some soldiers' clothing
to a small amount, some quartermaster's stores,
of which one hundred and twenty sides of
leather was the principal article, part of the
artificer's tools, and three wagons. Besides
which, five brass four pounders which we had
sunk in the river, were discovered to them,
raised and carried off. At the foundry we lost
the greater part of the papers belonging to the
Auditor's office, and of the books and papers
of the Council office. About five or six tons
of powder, as we conjecture, was thrown into
the canal, of which there will be a considerable
saving by remanufacturing it. The roof of the
foundry was burned, but the stacks of chimneys
and furnaces not at all injured. The boring
mill was consumed. Within less than fortyeight
hours from the time of their landing, and
nineteen from our knowing their destination,
they had penetrated thirty-three miles, done the
whole injury, and retired.—
To General Washington. Washington ed. i, 282. Ford ed., ii, 405.
(M. 1809)