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Jefferson to His Excellency Gen Washington

Richmond, June 11, 1780.


Major Galvan, as recommended by your Excellency, was despatched to his station without delay, and has been furnished with every thing he desired, as far as we were able. The line of expresses formed between us is such, as will communicate intelligence from one to the other in twenty-three hours. I have forwarded to him information of our disasters in the South, as they have come to me.

Our intelligence from the southward is most lamentably defective. Though Charleston has been in the hands of the enemy a month, we hear nothing of their movements which can be relied on. Rumors are, that they are penetrating northward. To remedy this defect, I shall immediately establish a line of expresses from hence to the neighborhood of their army, and send thither a sensible, judicious person, to give us information of their movements. This intelligence will, I hope, be conveyed to us at the rate of one hundred and twenty miles in the twenty-four hours. They set out to their stations to-morrow. I wish it were possible, that a like speedy line of communication could be formed from hence to your Excellency’s head-quarters. Perfect and speedy information of what is passing in the South, might put it in your power, perhaps, to frame your measures by theirs. There is really nothing to oppose the progress of the enemy northward, but the cautious principles of the military art. North Carolina is without arms. We do not abound. Those we have, are freely imparted to them; but such is the state of their resources, that they have not been able to move a single musket from this State to theirs. All the wagons we can collect, have been furnished to the Marquis de Kalb, and are assembled for the march of twenty-five hundred men, under General Stevens, of Culpeper, who will move on the 19th instant. I have written to Congress to hasten supplies of arms and military stores for the southern states, and particularly to aid us with cartridge paper and boxes, the want of which articles, small as they are, renders our stores useless. The want of money cramps every effort. This will be supplied by the most unpalatable of all substitutes, force. Your Excellency will readily conceive, that after the loss of one arm, our eyes are turned towards the other, and that we comfort ourselves, if any aids can be furnished by you, without defeating the operations more beneficial to the general union, they will be furnished. At the same time, I am happy to find that the wishes of the people go no further, as far as I have an opportunity of learning their sentiments. Could arms be furnished, I think this State and North Carolina would embody from ten to fifteen thousand militia immediately, and more if necessary.

I hope, ere long, to be able to give you a more certain statement of the enemy’s as well as our situation, which I shall not fail to do. I enclose you a letter from Major Galvan, being the second I have forwarded to you.

With sentiments of the most perfect esteem and respect,

I have the honor to be
your Excellency’s
most obedient, humble servant,
Th: Jefferson.