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decided before it could be practicable for Earl Cornwallis to join him.
This circumstance seems to have produced for a time in the latter nobleman no inconsiderable degree of irresolution respecting the plan of his future operations.
If the British arms in South Carolina should be successful, his return to that country would be unnecessary, and would be abandoning a great part of the ground already gained. On the contrary, should Lord Rawdon be defeated and driven into Charlestown, there was much reason to be apprehensive for his own safety, if Greene, aided by the numerous militia who would be brought into the field by that event, should find him on his march, embarrassed with the large rivers he would be under the necessity of crossing.
After considering maturely the probable advantages and disadvantages to be expected from a return to South Carolina, Earl Cornwallis decided against this retrograde movement; and determined to advance still further northward into Virginia, which had been invaded by a strong
detachment of British troops, commanded first by General Arnold, and afterwards by Major-general Phillips. In pursuance of this determination, his army moved from Wilmington on the 25th of April.
Virginia invaded by Arnold—He destroys valuable
stores at Richmond-Retires to Portsmouth - Mutiny in the Pennsylvania line—Sir Henry Clinton attempts to negotiate with the mutineers, They compromise with the civil authority—Mutiny in the Jersey line-Mission of Colonel Laurens to FrancePropositions to Spain-Recommendations relative to a duty, on imported and prize goods-Reform in the organization of the executive departments—Confederation adopted— Military transactions—Fayette, detached to Virginia-Destouches sails for the Chesapeak—Operations of the British army in Virginiam Cornwallis arrives—Presses Fayette over the Rapidan-Fayette forms a junction with Wayne—Corn. wallis retires to the Lower Country-General Wash. ington's letters are intercepted— Action near James, town.
HE evacuation of Portsmouth by Leslie af.
forded Virginia but a short interval of repose. So early as the gth of December, 1780, a letter from General Washington announced to the Go. vernor, that a large embarkation, supposed to be destined for the south, was about to take place at New York. On the 19th, a fleet of transports under convoy, having on board about one thou
sand six hundred men, commanded by General Arnold, sailed from the Hook. The fleet was scattered in a storm, and transports containing about four hundred men were separated from the convoy. The rest anchored, on the 30th, in Hampton-roads. The next day the troops were embarked on board vessels adapted to the navigation; after which, they proceeded up James-river, under convoy of two small ships of war.
On the 4th of January, 1781, they reached Westover; distant about one hundred and forty miles from the Capes, and about twenty-five from Richmond, the capital of Virginia.
Thus far, the immediate destination of Arnold remained uncertain. His movements threatened equally the two towns of Richmond and Peters. burgh: the first of which stands on the northern bank of James-river, at the falls or rapids; and the second on the Appomattox, which empties itself into James-river a little above Westover. The latter had been the depository of continental stores to a considerable amount, designed for the southern service.
Major-general Baron Steuben, who still remained in Virginia, supposing Petersburg to be the immediate object of the British army, ordered the new levies, amounting to less than two hundred men, to that place; and directed them to move the public stores out of the reach of the enemy.
The lower country of Virginia, extending from the ocean to the falls of its rivers, is particularly unfavourable to the prompt assembling of militia. The white population is not numerous; and the territory which it inhabits is divided by large na vigable rivers, not to be passed unless boats are previously prepared for the purpose, nor then if the smallest armed vessel should oppose the attempt.
On the first intelligence that a fleet had passed the Capes, General Nelson, who was then at Richmond, was dispatched for the purpose of raising the lower militia ; and, on the 2d of January, orders were issued to call out those above, and in the neighbourhood of the metropolis.
On reaching Westover, Arnold landed with the greater part of his army, and immediately commenced his march towards Richmond. The few continental troops at Petersburgh were ordered to the capital; and between one and two hundred militia, who had been collected from the town and its immediate vicinity, were directed to harass the advancing enemy. In the mean time, exertions were made to save the stores; partly by removing them up to Westham, a crossing-place at the commencement of the rapids; and partly by convey. ing them over the river, the passage of which Baron Steuben, with his handful of continental troops,
intended to defend.
The small party of militia detached to harass the enemy was too weak to effect the object; and the day after landing at Westover, Arnold entered Richmond, where he halted with about five hun. dred of his troops. The residue, amounting to about four hundred (including thirty horse), proceeded under Lieutenant-colonel Simcoe to West. ham, where they burnt and destroyed a valuable foundry, boring-mill, powder-magazine, and other smaller buildings, together with military stores to a considerable amount. Several pieces of artillery and a few muskets fell into their hands, and were cither rendered useless or brought off. Many valuable papers belonging to the government, which had been carried thither as to a place of safety, were likewise burnt.
This service, being effected, Lieutenant-colonel Simcoe rejoined Arnold at Richmond; where the public stores, and a large quantity of rum and salt the property of private individuals, were entirely destroyed. Leaving Richmond the next day, they arrived at Westover on the 7th; and re-embarking on the morning of the roth, proceeded down the river. While the army lay at that plače, Lieutenant-colonel Simcoe, at the head of less than fifty horse, attacked and dispersed a body of militia at Charles-city court-house, with the loss of only one man killed and three wounded. The militia were now assembling in consider