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On the back of a letter requesting supplies, Wayne conveys news of Lafayette and von Steuben’s struggle against Benedict Arnold in Virginia. ANTHONY WAYNE.
Autograph Letter Signed, to Pennsylvania President Joseph Reed, Lancaster [Pa.], May 16, 1781. 4 pp., 6¾ x 8¼ in.
Lancaster 16th May 1781
I do myself the honor of Inclosing a Copy of an application to Mr Henry for necessaries wanted for Colo Moylans Dragoons, together with his answer, by which your Excellency & the Honorable Council will see this [the?] Impracticability of his accomplishing this Essential business without your Concurrance in the application of some part of the public money of this State now in his hands[.] will your Excellency & Council be so Obliging as to give him the necessary <2> necessary Orders on an occation that may be productive of very happy Consequences.
I am next to inform Council, that Cattle are wanted, & may be procured to serve the Detachment until we arrive in Virginia, provided the Contractors of Lancaster & York Counties had orders for the purpose[.]
I wish if possible to receive about sixty head by next monday or tuesday, at which period the fifth Regiment will reach Yorktown, the Auditors having arrived at Reading on Sunday for the purpose of settling the Depreciation, & will finish about <3> about Saturday & in order that no time may be lost, I will endeavor to have everything in perfect readiness to take when our line of March from General rendezvous Immediately after their Arrival.
Interio I am with much Esteem
Your Excellency’s Most Obedt/Huml Sert
His Excellency/Jos Reed Prest/Pennla/Recd 17th
[Docketing]: 1781 May 16th From Genl Wayne
17,,th NB before this was Dispatched, I rec.d letters from the board of War, the Gov.r of Virginia, & the Marquis Lafayette of the most alarming nature, & pressing for the advance of the troops under my Command with all possible expedition.
I have therefore directed Mr Henry to begin this work & shall call upon the purchasing Commissary for some Cattle in full confidence that council will adopt the measure & make due allowances for a Conduct only warranted by necessity & the Critical situation of our southern affairs.
In January 1781, American traitor and now British General Benedict Arnold landed in Virginia. His force marched on Richmond and occupied and burned the city on January 5 -7, 1781. For the next six months, Arnold raided towns on the Virginia peninsulas, destroying foundries, workshops, warehouses, and mills while foraging the countryside for provisions. The Virginia militia skirmished against Arnold with limited success. In March, Washington sent a force of 1,200 men under the Marquis de Lafayette to counter Arnold’s raids—along with a standing order to hang the traitor if captured. Even so, Arnold, reinforced by 2,000 troops under Brigadier General William Phillips, was able to defeat Baron von Steuben and the militia at the Battle of Petersburg (Blandsford) on April 25, 1781. Arnold and Phillips continued their raiding, which was no doubt the reason Lafayette and “the Gov.r of Virginia” (Thomas Jefferson) wrote requesting his aid as quickly as possible.
Attached to a rather mundane letter about supplying Wayne’s regiments of the newly-reorganized Pennsylvania Line, Anthony’s compelling postscript delivers an immediacy to the crisis in Virginia. Rather than wait any longer, Wayne begins preparations to head south and aid Lafayette.
Wayne was put in charge of reorganizing the Pennsylvania Line, a segment of the Continental Army made up of about 2,400 men, after its successful mutiny. Many soldiers who had signed up for three-year tours in 1776 and 1777 had not received pay beyond a $20 signing bonus. On January 1, 1781, after celebrating the new year, the small group of soldiers preparing to leave camp were joined by the rest of the regiments. Still loyal Americans, the mutineers refused an invitation to join the British army and instead selecting representatives to negotiate with Pennsylvania’s Supreme Executive Council. Joseph Reed was its president, the equivalent of governor in other states. Reed heard soldiers’ grievances, which included corporal punishment for failing to reenlist, low signing bounties, and back pay issues, and decided they had legitimate claims. Rapid negotiations resulted in discharges for the “three year men,” allowing them to re-enlist for higher bonuses. Over 1,200 men received discharges, but most returned to their former units. Nevertheless, to prevent such actions in the future, the regiments were disbanded, reformed, and sent to different posts. Wayne was in charge of the 2nd, 5th, and 6th regiments when he went south to aid Lafayette and eventually participate in the Siege of Yorktown.
Anthony Wayne (1745 – 1796) Despite a complete lack of military experience, Wayne joined the Continental Army at the beginning of the Revolution. His reckless decision-making and fighting style earned him the nickname “Mad” Anthony. Initially in charge of the 4th Pennsylvania Regiment, he helped relieve Benedict Arnold’s ill-fated invasion of Canada in 1776, led the Pennsylvania Line at the Battles of Brandywine and Germantown, and captured Stony Point, New York from the British. He took 3 regiments of the reorganized Pennsylvania Line to Virginia to aid Lafayette against his former comrade, Benedict Arnold. There, true to his moniker, he led a bold charge against a larger British force after walking into a trap laid by Cornwallis. After the war, he served in the Pennsylvania state legislature and later as a Representative from Georgia. President Washington put him in charge of an expedition to the Northwest Territory to address frontier Indian attacks. He won a decisive victory against Shawnee and Miami Indians at the Battle of Fallen Timbers in 1794, considered by many historians to be the final battle of the American Revolution.
Joseph Reed (1741 – 1785) was a Pennsylvania lawyer, served in the Continental Congress, signed the Articles of Confederation, and served as the president of the Supreme Executive Council of Pennsylvania, the equivalent of governor. In that capacity, Reed would eventually supply Anthony Wayne’s troops during the Siege of Yorktown.
Very good. Tissue repair along center fold, minor repair of fold on verso of postscript signature, small ink burn on one crossed-out word, small stain on bottom edge of first leaf.
“Revolutionary War Raids & Skirmishes in 1781.” http://www.myrevolutionarywar.com/battles/1781-skirmish/
“Joseph Reed.” http://www.archives.upenn.edu/people/1700s/reed_jos.html
“Anthony Wayne.” http://www.ohiohistorycentral.org/entry.php?rec=398