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Lower Counties of Virginia, 1781

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  • vastatenavy
    Benedict Arnold s Virginia Campaign Lower Counties of Virginia March/April, 1781 27th -Additional ships join the British fleet already in Hampton Roads,
    Message 1 of 16 , Apr 3, 2006
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      Benedict Arnold's Virginia Campaign

      Lower Counties of Virginia

      March/April, 1781

      27th -Additional ships join the British fleet already in Hampton
      Roads, containing more troops from New York.

      Gen. Steuben orders Gen. Muhlenberg to start consolidating his
      militia forces around Portsmouth to protect them from the danger
      presented by these British reinforcements. Col. Parker is recalled
      from Great Bridge. Parker makes a forced march with his two
      regiments of militia through the Dismal Swamp, joining Gen.
      Muhlenberg in his camp in Suffolk.

      30th -Captain Johan Ewald is still suffering the affects of his
      severe wound received at Scott's Creek. He continues to conveless in
      a make-shift hospital in Norfolk.

      31st -The British Fleet enters the Elizabeth River containing
      additional forces under Major-General William Phillips, consisting
      of the following.

      „X English Light Infantry
      „X 76th Highland Reg't.
      „X Erbprinz Regiment
      „X Artillery

      British ships are ordered up the Chesapeake bay to prevent
      Lafayette's forces at Head of Elk from advancing to meet him via
      that route (The Monk, Hope, and several privateers). The light
      infantry under Lt. Col. Abercromby encamps at Kemp's landing, with
      Simcoe nearby at Newtown.

      Gen. Lafayette returns to Maryland, intent on rejoining
      Washington's' army.

      April 1781

      1st - Gen. Phillips and his troop debark in Portsmouth. Phillips
      immediately proceeds to strengthen the works in Norfolk and
      Portsmouth.

      Gen. Muhlenberg moves his forces to Scott's Mill, near Everetts in
      Suffolk. He leaves bodies of militia positioned as follows.

      -Colonels Matthews and Wills regiments with Major Nelson's cavalry
      at Cowper's Mill (4 miles from Suffolk on the road to Portsmouth)
      -Colonels Dick's and Downman's regiments at Chuckatuck.

      Taken from "...The Militia Are Coming In From All Quarters..." The
      Revolution in Virginia's Lower Counties

      Rob Friar
      Va. State Navy &
      7th Va. Regt.
    • vastatenavy
      Virginia Campaign Lower Counties of Virginia April 1781 1st - Gen. Phillips and his reenforcing troops debark in Portsmouth, releiving Gen. Arnold of command.
      Message 2 of 16 , Apr 19, 2006
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        Virginia Campaign

        Lower Counties of Virginia

        April 1781

        1st - Gen. Phillips and his reenforcing troops debark in Portsmouth,
        releiving Gen. Arnold of command. Phillips immediately proceeds to
        strengthen the works in Norfolk and Portsmouth.

        Gen. Peter Muhlenberg moves his forces away from Portsmouth to
        Scott's Mill (Suffok near Chuckatuck). He leaves bodies of militia
        disposed as follows.

        „X Colonels Matthews and Wills regiments with Major Nelson's
        cavalry at Cowper's Mill (near the town of Suffok)
        „X Colonels Dick's and Downman's regiments at Chuckatuck.

        6th -Lafayette is ordered to return to Virginia with his troops and
        take immediate command of the militia and new continental troops
        there.

        8th - Most of Gen. Muhlenberg's militia, having served their 3 month
        term, leave camp, leaving him with only 700 men in the field. He
        proceeds to send all military stores that he does not need further
        into the country to protect it from the British forces, and
        continues to monitor the movements of the British in Portsmouth.

        13th -Gen. Muhlenburg moves all stores and men to a camp at
        Broadwater (Ivor in southern Isle of Wight County, 22 miles west of
        Suffolk). He now has approximately 1000 militia with him there. He
        places them in the following positions.

        „X Major Riddick with 110 men at Cowper's Mill
        „X Major Boykin with 150 men near Scott's Mill
        „X Colonel Wills with 240 men near Stoner's Mill (Mackie's Mill
        near Smithfield)
        „X 500 men at Broadwater

        He also begins to send military stores to Prince George Courthouse.

        18th -Major Robinson's Loyalist Regiment, the Erbprinz Regiment, and
        portions of the 76th and 80th are assigned to garrison Portsmouth.
        The remaining troops, the Rangers, Jagers, Light Infantry, the 76th
        and 80th reg'ts., and the artillery embarked on long boats at
        Portsmouth.
        Phillip's fleet arrives at the mouth of Pagan Creek, near
        Smithfield, but does not land there.

        19th -The British fleet continues up the James River, land at the
        Chickahominy River, and overtakes the militia posts at Yorktown and
        Williamsburg.

        Gen. Muhlenberg, now aware that the British did not intend to land
        at Smithfield, leaves his camp at Broadwater and marches his men to
        camp at Wall's Bridge (in southern Surry County on the Blackwater
        River). He leaves Col. Josiah Parker in command of the remaining
        militia troops in the area, consisting of the troops from Isle of
        Wight, Southhampton and Nansemond counties. They stay at the camp at
        Broadwater.

        Steuben remains in Chesterfield Courthouse, organizing the removal
        of stores to more secure locations at Cumberland old Courthouse and
        Point of Fork.

        24th - Gen. Phillip's troops, that had reboarded their boats, land
        at Brandon plantation near City Point and march on Petersburg.

        Gen. Muhlenberg had moved his troops to Cabin Point (on Rt. 10,
        Surry County), then on to Blandford (near Petersburg), where he was
        positioned when the British troops approached.

        25th -Phillips and Arnold advance on Muhlenberg's militia defending
        Blandford , near Petersburg, on the Appomattox River.

        At approximately 1 o'clock p.m, British forces attack 1000 militia
        defending Blandford bridge, which crosses the Appomattox River.
        After an intense 2 hour battle, the militia were forced to tear up
        the bridge and retreat across the River.

        29th -Muhlenberg and his troops, having retreated to Richmond, are
        joined by Gen. Lafayette and his forces, having arrived by forced
        marches from Head of Elk. Lafayette takes command of all forces in
        the state.

        Taken from "...The Militia are Coming in From All Quarters..." The
        Revolution in Virginia's Lower Counties, 1781

        Rob Friar
        Virginia State Navy &
        7th Va. Regt.
      • vastatenavy
        As July dawns in the lower counties of Virginia in 1781, concern was growing amongst local leaders. A British force had been occupying the town of Portsmouth
        Message 3 of 16 , Jul 4, 2006
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          As July dawns in the lower counties of Virginia in 1781, concern was
          growing amongst local leaders. A British force had been occupying
          the town of Portsmouth since April, and several reinforcements had
          arrived and been sent to join Lord Cornwallis as he marched
          throughout the state with the bulk of his army. Shadowing him was
          Gen. Lafayette, who had called most of the militia to him, under the
          command of Governor Thomas Nelson, then an acting general in the
          field.

          Left in the lower counties (below the James River) to keep an eye on
          the British occupying Portsmouth was Col. Josiah Parker of Isle of
          Wight County, former commander of the 5th Virginia Regiment. With
          him was the militias of South Hampton, Surry, Isle of Wight
          Nansemond and Norfolk Counties, about 400 men, including 50 mounted
          and 2 artillery pieces; one 12 pounder and one 3 pounder. Col.
          Parker usually kept a safe distance from Portsmouth, usually staying
          around Suffolk, where he could respond to any moves out of the town
          to North Carolina or west towards Williamsburg.

          Capt. Johan Ewald, still recovering from the wound he received from
          the battle with Lafayette at Scott's creek, Portsmouth, in March,
          finally heals enough to return to the army, and waste no time in
          making his way up the James River to report for duty. Along with him
          are other recovering Queen's Rangers and Jagers from the hospital in
          Norfolk. They meet with Col. Simcoe somewhere near the ferry landing
          at Cobham (ferry to Jamestown) on June 16th, and soon rejoin the
          army near Richmond. In the next few weeks, Cornwallis moves his army
          to Williamsburg, then to Jamestown, intending to march to Portsmouth.

          Here is where we pick up our timeline of events, leading up to the
          fourth of July.

          June 1781

          29th -Col. Parker is now at another camp near Suffolk (Camp Babbs),
          where he notifies Governor Nelson that he has 522 men of the local
          militia.

          July 1781

          4th - At Jamestown, Ewald learns that the army was to march back to
          Portsmouth, as Cornwallis had been ordered to send the light
          infantry, Rangers, and the Anspach, 43rd, and 76th regiments to New
          York.

          Simcoe with Ewald and the Rangers, Jagers, and Althouse
          sharpshooters are sent across the James River, landing at Cobham in
          Surry County (few hundred yards from modern ferry landing at
          Scotland wharf). They set up a defensive ring on the heights of the
          town to cover the landing of the remaining forces still at Jamestown.

          Rob Friar
          Virginia State Navy &
          7th Va. Reg't.
        • vastatenavy
          While the Battle of Greenspring was being fought north of the James River, actions were still being taken to make safe the south side of the James River for
          Message 4 of 16 , Jul 7, 2006
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            While the Battle of Greenspring was being fought north of the James
            River, actions were still being taken to make safe the south side of
            the James River for Cornwallis' eventual crossing.

            July 1781

            5th - Captain Johan Ewald reconnoiters towards Smithfield and
            Southhampton County on word that 2000 militia were at Smithfield. By
            evening word reaches Ewald that a force of 200 militia stand at
            Wilson's plantation, about 4 miles from Cobham (site of the ferry
            landing) and adjacent to Chippokes Plantation (current state park).
            Simcoe gives Ewald two Ranger companies, and along with his Jagers,
            he pursues the militia from Wilson's to Crafford's mill on Lower
            Chippokes Creek, skirmishing with and capturing a Lieutenant and
            several men. Once they reach Crafford's mill, they stop and return
            to Cobham by nightfall.

            6th - Lord Cornwallis's baggage train crosses the river. Lafayette
            engages Cornwallis at Greenspring Plantation.


            7th - Following his victory at Greenspring, Cornwallis crosses with
            his remaining troops to Cobham. Simcoe marches to and occupies
            Crafford's Mill at Chippokes Plantation.

            Rob Friar
            Virginia State Navy &
            7th Va. regt.
          • vastatenavy
            After the battle of Greenspring, Lord Cornwallis moves the rest of his arm across the James River to Surry County, and proceeds caustionsly towards the town of
            Message 5 of 16 , Jul 10, 2006
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              After the battle of Greenspring, Lord Cornwallis moves the rest of
              his arm across the James River to Surry County, and proceeds
              caustionsly towards the town of Portsmouth, Va., where he hopes he
              can be resupplied by the Royal navy, and to send some of his forces
              back to New York as ordered by Gen. Clinton.

              July, 1781

              8th - Capt. Johna Ewald marches with his jagers and the Light
              Infantry towards Smithfield (in Isle of Wight County). He learns
              that the militia have left Smithfield to a position at the
              Blackwater River (southwest of the town).


              9th - Lord Cornwallis's army leaves Cobham and encamps at Nelson's
              tavern on Lawne's creek, in northern Isle of Wight County near the
              James River. Lt. Col. Simcoe takes the Jagers, Rangers, and
              sharpshooters to within 8 miles of Smithfield to provide an advance
              post in case the militia approaches.

              10th -The British army proceeds to Mackie's Mill (on Scott's Factory
              Rd. near Smithfield) and encamps on the grounds of Six Oaks
              plantation.

              Rob Friar
              Virginia State Navy &
              7th Va. Regt.
            • vastatenavy
              After moving the bulk of his..ARMY..to the outskirts of the town of Smithfield on the south side of the James River, Lord Cornwillis cautiously proceeds south
              Message 6 of 16 , Jul 12, 2006
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                After moving the bulk of his..ARMY..to the outskirts of the town of
                Smithfield on the south side of the James River, Lord Cornwillis
                cautiously proceeds south to the town of Suffolk in Nansemond
                County, on the only road that leads to the town of
                Portsmouth...Meanwhile, Col. Tarleton has been sent from Cobham west
                and south on his raid though that part of the state, with orders to
                rendevous with Cornwallis back at Suffolk.

                July, 1781

                11th -While Cornwallis takes his..ARMY..towards Suffolk via the more
                direct route (Longview), Captain Johan Ewald and Lt. Col. Simcoe are
                ordered to cover his left by proceeding to Suffolk via Chuckatuck
                Mill (modern day route 10). Ewald and Simcoe cautiously advance past
                Chuckatuck and Everrett's Mills before joining the rest of
                the..ARMY..at Scott's Mill (Modern-day Lake Prince, Suffolk).

                12th -Cornwallis and his..ARMY..arrives in the town of Suffolk,
                encamping at Riddick's Mill near Jerico ditch. Simcoe places Ewald
                in ambush near Newby's Mill, west of Everett's (near Chuckatuck), to
                challenge militia in the area under the command of Col. Josiah
                Parker. Toward evening Ewald leaves this position, and waits in
                ambush near Cahoon's Mill (modern-day Lake Cahoon) west of the town
                where the roads from the Blackwater River, Scott's Mill, and Suffolk
                intersect. Ewald eventually joins Simcoe at Cahoon's Mill and
                encamps for the night.

                Rob Friar
                Virginia State Navy &
                7th Va. Regt.
              • vastatenavy
                July 1781 Cornwallis is encamped at the town of Suffolk, where he will remain for several days. Several small detachments are sent into the surrounding
                Message 7 of 16 , Jul 16, 2006
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                  July 1781

                  Cornwallis is encamped at the town of Suffolk, where he will remain
                  for several days. Several small detachments are sent into the
                  surrounding countryside to keep an eye on the local militia.

                  13th -Lt. Col. Simcoe and Captian Ewald march to Cowper's Mill, 4
                  miles from Riddick's on the road to Portsmouth (Nansemond Pkwy. at
                  Beamon's mill).

                  14th -Simcoe leaves for Portsmouth along with the Light Infantry,
                  the 43rd and 76th regiments, and the Anspach Brigade, to embark for
                  New York. The remaining troops stay at Riddick's Mill near Suffolk.
                  By evening, Ewald is ordered to cover the army's flank by
                  positioning himself to the west of town, on the road to the
                  Blackwater River and Edenton.

                  15th -Col. Dundas is sent to forage near Newby's Mill, on the road
                  to Orbit (and the modern-day Isle of Wight Co. courthouse) near
                  Everrett's (not far from Chuckatuck). Ewald covers his force by
                  placing his Jagers and the sharpshooters at Everrett's. He advances
                  on and skirmishes with local militia, capturing one.

                  Rob Friar
                  Virginia State Navy &
                  7th Va. regt.
                • vastatenavy
                  Speaking of the chiggers, heat, and thunderstorms experienced at Greenspring this past weekend, it seems chronologically and geographically significant to post
                  Message 8 of 16 , Jul 17, 2006
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                    Speaking of the chiggers, heat, and thunderstorms experienced at
                    Greenspring this past weekend, it seems chronologically and
                    geographically significant to post an entry from Johan Ewald's
                    journal during his stay in the town of Suffok with Cornwallis at
                    this time in July 1781. I like to refer to it as the "Battle of the
                    Chiggers".

                    Suffolk, Virginia., Mid-July, 1781

                    "For eight days we were the most tormented people in this world.
                    Ever since the billions of sand and biting flies left us, a small
                    kind of insect has appeared which is completely round and no larger
                    than a pinhead. It feeds in the skin and multiplies by the hundreds
                    in one night, making small clear boils and causing such irritation
                    with itching that one has no rest day or night. Nothing can be done
                    about it until the skin is broken and bleeding from scratching. A
                    number of our men are very sick from it; their entire bodies look
                    like people who are seized with smallpox. The inhabitants console us
                    by saying that the insects will last only until the end of this
                    month…Added to this is the unbearable heat, which increases all the
                    time. It is often so intense that one can hardly breathe, especially
                    after a terrible thunderstorm, when all the air seems to vanish.
                    Moreover, the worst thunderstorms come with each evening and last
                    through half the night. With each thunderbolt a brilliant zigzag
                    flashes around our heads, combined with the most violent downpour."

                    Rob Friar
                    Virginia State Navy &
                    7th Va. Regt.
                  • vastatenavy
                    Lower counties of Virginia July, 1781 20th -Gen. Lafayette and his troops are encamped at Melvern Hill, north of the James River, near Richmond (site of future
                    Message 9 of 16 , Jul 25, 2006
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                      Lower counties of Virginia

                      July, 1781

                      20th -Gen. Lafayette and his troops are encamped at Melvern Hill,
                      north of the James River, near Richmond (site of future Civil War
                      battle).

                      21st -After spending several days around Suffolk, the British army
                      leaves the town and marches toward Portsmouth, encamping at Hall's
                      Mill (modern-day Jolliff Road, about half way between the two towns.

                      22nd -British arrive in Portsmouth. Capt. Johan Ewald is placed in
                      position once again at the defile at Scott's Creek, location of his
                      battle with Lafayette and local militia in March.

                      23rd -Orders are countermanded regarding the embarkation of troops
                      to New York. They land at Yorktown instead.

                      24th -Col. Josiah Parker, commander of all militia near Portsmouth,
                      writes Governor Thomas Nelson, informing him that he intends to soon
                      leave the service. He has spent much of his own fortune, and fears
                      he has also lost his good reputation, in supplying his troops in the
                      field, with little or no help or appreciation from the state. He
                      plans to sail for France at his earliest convenience, aboard one of
                      the several ships he owns.

                      26th -Governor Thomas Nelson informs Col. Josiah Parker that with
                      the new authority granted him under a law passed by the Assembly,
                      marshal law is in effect within 20 miles of his camp, as well as
                      within 20 miles of the enemy's camp. Thus, he is free to punish the
                      loyalist from Nansemond County responsible for capturing and
                      mistreating a Capt. Nott, who was on patrol near Suffolk. The
                      loyalist, Dempsey Butler, was a deserter from Parker's camp who
                      joined with Loyalist troops harassing Parker from Nansemond and
                      Norfolk Counties. His men captured Nott, shot him, and were taking
                      him back to Portsmouth when they were surprised by mounted militia,
                      who captured Butler and rescued Capt. Nott. The Capt. died of his
                      wounds while in Parker's camp.
                      The Governor also implores Col. Parker to stay in his position and
                      not leave, as his services are greatly needed and appreciated by the
                      state.

                      Rob Friar
                      Virginia State Navy &
                      7th Va. regt.
                    • vastatenavy
                      Once the British arrive in the town of Portsmouth, Va., Col. Josiah Parker and the combined militia forces of the lower counties near Suffolk and Gen. Gregory
                      Message 10 of 16 , Jul 29, 2006
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                        Once the British arrive in the town of Portsmouth, Va., Col. Josiah
                        Parker and the combined militia forces of the lower counties near
                        Suffolk and Gen. Gregory and the North Carolina Militia below Great
                        Bridge keep watch from a safe distance, unsure of what Cornwallis'
                        next move may be...

                        July, 1781

                        27th -General Lafayette writes Col. Parker, requesting that, since
                        he may be leaving the service soon, to please be sure to leave a
                        channel of communication with Gen. Gregory so that he may stay
                        completely informed of the enemy's actions in that quarter. He also
                        expresses his wish that Col. Parker stay in the field, as his
                        services are invaluable.

                        29th -Captian Johan Ewald, repossitioned at Scott's Creek upon his
                        return to Portsmouth with the main British force, is ordered to
                        embark with his troops. General O'Hara occupies his position on
                        Scott's Creek with English Guards. Catp. Ewald marches to the town
                        and boards the boats with members Dundas' 80th Regiment.

                        30th -Gen. Peter Muhlenberg, now in command of Lafayette's Light
                        Infantry and a regiment of Riflemen, is positioned near Suffolk.
                        Col. Parker commands the lower county militia units (Surry, Isle of
                        Wight, and Nansemond) closer to Portsmouth.

                        31st -By this time, Cornwallis has embarked most of his troops
                        aboard several ships and barges in Hampton Roads Harbor. Their
                        destination is a mystery to the patriot forces. Only a small holding
                        force is left in the town of Portsmouth.

                        Col. Senf, writing from Fort Powhatan (Hood's Point) informs Col.
                        Davies of Gen. Alexander Leslie's force at Portsmouth, which
                        consisted of the following:

                        •Detachment of the 17th Regiment (200) at Ivy's (on modern-day
                        Jollif Road near Hall's Mill), 12 miles this side of Portsmouth,
                        under a Lieutenant Colonel Johnson.

                        •2 Companies of the 76th Regiment (120) at Ivy's.

                        •2 Battalions of Anspacks (1000) on duty at Great Bridge.

                        •260 Hessians in Norfolk and Portsmouth under Colonel De Tucks
                        [Fuchs?].

                        •50 Jagers in Portsmouth/Norfolk

                        •Total of 1630 effectives, 60 of which are mounted.

                        •70 Royal Artillery present as well.

                        •General Benedict Arnold with Col. Robertson's Regiment [Loyal
                        American Regiment] (63) rank & file gone to New York.

                        •No ships of force and very few frigates.


                        Rob Friar
                        Va. State Navy &
                        7th Va. Regt.
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