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Arnold's Raid 225 Years Ago

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  • umfspock87@cs.com
    Dear List, I know that most of our attention has swung to Cowpens, but I wanted to share some primary accounts of Benedict Arnold s raid up the James River in
    Message 1 of 1 , Jan 2, 2006
      Dear List,

      I know that most of our attention has swung to Cowpens, but I wanted to share
      some primary accounts of Benedict Arnold's raid up the James River in early
      January 1781. Jefferson was informed about the appearance of a large fleet off
      of Chesapeake Bay on December 31, but was not sure of their destination. He
      may have assumed that they were heading for the Carolinas. In any case, the
      alarm was not sounded in Virginia until January 2nd when Jefferson received a
      message from Nathaniel Burwell. Burwell's Ferry was on the James River, just a
      few miles from Williamsburg. What Burwell saw was Benedict Arnold's 1,200
      man expedition heading upriver.
      Nathaniel Burwell to Governor Jefferson Burwell's Ferry 2d: Jany
      Ten o' Clock a:m

      "The Enemy's Fleet have just now come to off this Place; they consist of 23
      Sail, including two Men of war; a number of Flat bottom'd Boats are a-Stern of
      the Ships full of men. We have near 200 men under the Command of Colo: Innis
      and myself a number very insufficient for the present Purpose: however nothing
      shall be wanting as far as we're able to oppose the Enemy if they attempt to
      land. A Small Party of Foot and Horse are now engag'd with a Boat detachd
      from the Fleet."

      Here's an account from Captain Johann Ewald of what happened at Burwell's
      Ferry 225 years ago today:

      "In the morning the fleet set sail again, and about midday cast anchor at
      Burwell's Ferry, where two enemy vessels and several distinguished rebels fell
      into our hands. Several battalions with a few guns appeared on Burwell's
      height, which, perhaps, would attempt to dispute our landing. General Arnold sent a
      naval officer with a white flag ashore, warning them to lay down their arms
      and obey their King. The American officer asked the English naval officer [if]
      General Arnold was...possibly the traitor Arnold. If this were the case, he
      requested him to tell the next ranking English officer that if he had a
      request to make, he would like him to use his name, for the American officer would
      not and could not give up to a traitor. But if he were to get hold of Arnold,
      he would hang him up by the heels, according to the orders of the Congress.
      The English officer delivered the message word for word, and Arnold was obiged
      to make a very wry face. Toward evening the fleet set sail with the flood
      tide and anchored off Jamestown during the night."

      Meanwhile, Governor Jefferson was busy calling out the militia. He called on
      the surrounding counties of Richmond to send a portion of their militia to
      Petersburg. He also called for troops from the counties in the Blue Ridge. A
      different number was inserted in the blank below for each county the message
      was sent.

      "The Enemy having again thought proper to invade our Country and being now on
      their Way up James River I have thought proper...to require ____ of your
      Militia under proper Officers to repair immediately to Richmond armed with good
      Rifles and Accoutrements...such of them as have not Rifles will be armed here
      with Musquets and joined to the Battalions of Musquetry. Those who bring Rifles
      will be formed into a separate Corps."

      Jefferson informed Militia General Thomas Nelson that he hoped to have 4,600
      men in the field as soon as possible and placed some of them under his
      command. Jefferson also solicited the help of General Steuben, who had recently
      arrived in Virginia to organize and forward to General Greene the state's
      continental troops. Lastly, Jefferson ordered the "residue of the Convention Troops"
      to be removed immediately to Fort Frederick of Frederick Maryland to prevent
      their rescue. Needless to say, January 2nd was a busy day for Mr. Jefferson.

      Best Regards,

      Mike Cecere 3rd & 7th VA

      [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
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