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Thomas Jefferson to General Horatio Gates

Richmond, October 28, 1780.

Sir,

Your letters of the 14th, 20th, and 21st have come to hand, and your despatches to Congress have been regularly forwarded. I shall attend to the caveat against Mr. Ochiltree’s bill. Your letter to Colonel Senf remains still in my hands, as it did not come till the enemy had taken possession of the ground, on which I knew him to have been, and I have since no certain information where a letter might surely find him. My proposition as to your bills in favor of the quarter-master, referred to yours of September 27th. I have notified to the Continental quarter-master, your advance of nine hundred dollars to Cooper. As yet, we have received no wagons. I wish Mr. Lambe may have supplied you. Should those from the western quarter not come in, we will authorize him or some other, to procure a relief, in time, for those first impressed. We are upon the eve of a new arrangement as to our commissary’s and quarter-master’s departments, as the want of money, introducing its substitute, force, requires the establishment of a different kind of system.

Since my first information to you of the arrival of an enemy, they have landed about eight hundred men near Portsmouth, some on the bay side of Princess Anne, one thousand at Hampton, and still retained considerable part on board their ships. Those at Hampton, after committing horrid depredations, have again retired to their ships, which, on the evening of the 26th, were strung along the Road from New-ports-news, to the mouth of Nansemond, which seems to indicate an intention of coming up James river. Our information is, that they have from four to five thousand men, commanded by General Leslie, and that they have come under convoy of one forty-gun ship, and some frigates (how many, has never been said), commanded by Commodore Rodney. Would it not be worth while to send out a swift boat from some of the inlets of Carolina, to notify the French Admiral that his enemies are in a net, if he has leisure to close the mouth of it? Generals Muhlenburg and Nelson are assembling a force to be ready for them, and General Weeden has come to this place, where he is at present employed in some arrangements. We have ordered the removal of the Saratoga prisoners, that we may have our hands clear for these new guests.

I have the honor to be, with the most perfect esteem and respect, Sir,

your most obedient
and most humble servant,
Th: Jefferson.

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