Mar 22, 2018 - Sale 2470

Sale 2470 - Lot 4

Price Realized: $ 35,000
?Final Price Realized includes Buyer’s Premium added to Hammer Price
Estimate: $ 15,000 - $ 25,000
"CORNWALLIS HAS ADVANCED TO THE ROANOKE" (AMERICAN REVOLUTION.) JEFFERSON, THOMAS. Letter Signed, "Th:Jefferson," as Governor, with 4-line holograph postscript, to Major-General Nathanael Greene, reporting that he has ordered over 1,000 rifleman to join him, remarking that the Chesterfield Courthouse reinforcements are unable to march, stating that the French gunboat and frigates at Rhode Island might be of aid but that the gunboat cannot enter Elizabeth River, and, in the postscript: "Since writing the above we are told Ld. Cornwallis has advanced to the Roanoke. I am in consequence issuing orders to embody every man between this & that for whom a firelock can be procured, & that they march to join you." 2 pages, small 4to, with integral blank; minor scattered bleedthrough, faint scattered dampstaining, folds, blank inlaid. Richmond, 17 February 1781

Additional Details

"In the moment of receiving your letter of the 10th I issued orders to the Counties of Washington, Montgomery, Botetout and Bedford for seven hundred and odd riflemen, and to those of Henry and Pittsylvania for four hundred and odd of their militia. Yet my trust is that neither these nor the adjacent Counties have awaited orders, but they have turned out and will have joined you in greater numbers than we have directed. The reinforcement from Chesterfield Courthouse cannot march these ten days. I shall be glad if you will call on the neighboring county Lieutenants for any succours which you may want, and circumstances forbid to be delayed. A minute communication of events to us will be very necessary as we wish as far as we are able to increase the opposing force, if that already ordered shall be insufficient. This change of position has thrown us into great doubt where to collect our provisions.
"Two days ago I received notice of the arrival of a sixty four gun ship and two frigates of thirty six guns each part of the French fleet at Rhode Island. Having yet had no communication of the views of the commanding officer (Commodore Tilly) I cannot say to what measures this aid will lead. They are equal to the destruction of the British Vessels could they get at them, but these are drawn up into Elizabeth river into which the sixty four cannot enter."
After the Battle of Cowpens on January 17, 1781, General Charles Cornwallis pursued the weaker force under General Nathanael Greene to the border of Virginia. Jefferson evidently received an erroneous report that Cornwallis had established a position at the Roanoke River; in fact, after arriving at Boyd's Ferry and seeing that Greene had already crossed the Dan River into Virginia, Cornwallis withdrew and encamped at Hillsborough, NC, in preparation for the Battle of Guilford Court House on March 15.
Published in The Writings of Thomas Jefferson, ed. Ford, vol. 2, 1893.