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"British Raids in Virginia 1779-1781" Topic

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Brechtel198 In the TMP Dawghouse20 May 2023 9:22 a.m. PST

Nothing of significance had happened in Virginia since early 1776 when small raids had occurred in the Virginia Tidewater. Virginia had been a vital economic player during the war exporting tobacco which kept American credit alive and the production of salt was important to the Continental army and the civilian population being necessary in preserving meat and other consumables.

A strong British amphibious raid had taken place in the spring of 1779 as the British army was considering the south as the next important theater of war, perhaps the decisive one after the northern theaters devolved into stalemate after Monmouth in the summer of 1778. The raid was put ashore at Portsmouth and swept through Norfolk, Gosport, and Suffolk under Major General Edward Mathew with Vice Admiral Sir George Collier being the naval commander.

Their record of destruction along the James River was impressive with 137 ships captured or burned, along with a number of American privateers, the destruction of invaluable naval stores along with 3,000 hogsheads of tobacco being put to the torch. Additionally, American ordnance was taken or destroyed along with a 28-gun warship and two loaded French merchantmen which were destroyed to keep them from capture by the British. Local plantations were looted and the total damage was over 2 million pounds. The expedition did not lose a man, and rembarked and returned to New York.

Over a year later sailed from New York on 20 December 1780 and landed in Virginia in January 1781. The raid was commanded by newly-minted Brigadier General Benedict Arnold. Arnold's mission was to destroy any military stores in Virginia, stop supplies and reinforcements being sent to General Greene's army in the Carolinas, and to rally any available loyalists. The command amounted to 1,200 and landed near Westover, after losing 400 troops to bad weather during the voyage south. They continued what the earlier raid had begun, with rampant destruction including the munitions works at Westover. Arnold transported his command in American vessels captured after landing, and captured Richmond in early January. The British also captured an American artillery position at Hood's Point on 3 January and Simcoe, and his Queen's Rangers, conducted a successful night raid at Charles City and routed the American militia he found there. This time, however, the raiders did not reembark but went into winter quarters at Portsmouth.

Thomas Jefferson became Virginia governor on 1 June 1779 and his actions to protect his state and face the British raids were, at best, limp-wristed. He did little to prepare his state for defense and as a consequence the British raiders ran rampant wherever they wished to go. His performance regarding a military response to the British raids was inept.
A further 2,000 British troops under the higly-competent Major General William Phillips was dispatched to reinforce Arnold in March and because he was senior to Arnold, he assumed overall command of the now 3,000 British troops in Virginia.

Again, Jefferson and Virginia were ill-prepared to oppose the British army. Washington dispatched Lafayette and the 1,200-man provisional Continental Corps of Light Infantry southward and they would arrive in Virginia late on 30 April. Prior to that, Arnold had left Portsmouth on 18 April and continued their operations against Virginia. Landing at City Point on 24 April, the British overcame stout resistance by some Virginia militia and took Petersburg on 25 April. Phillips led one British column to Chesterfield Court House while Arnold gained another British success at Osborne's, continuing his march to Manchester, opposite Richmond on the James River unopposed. They found themselves opposed the next day by Lafayette and his 1,200 Continentals.

Phillips then withdrew ‘with immense spoil' and with ‘scenes of destruction which were hardly equalled in any other British raid of the war.'

Meanwhile, Cornwallis after heavy losses suffered in the Carolinas at King's Mountain, Cowpens, and the Race to the Dan along with the mauling at Guilford Courthouse, withdrew to Virginia, abandoning the Carolinas. He would eventually spar with a reinforced Lafayette, and lost his two senior subordinates, Phillips dying of fever and Arnold leaving for New York.

Later, Lafayette and Wayne, who commanded the reinforcing Pennsylvania Brigade, would be joined by Washington and Rochambeau for combined operations against Cornwallis. The latter would allow himself to be besieged and trapped at Yorktown by the allied army and would eventually surrender, for all practical purposes ending the war.

Virginia was badly served by her governor, Thomas Jefferson, ‘He was not a man of arms, dreaded the duties of a soldier, had no stomach for physical combat.' Luckily for the state, some of the militia actually tried to fight, and the arrival of Lafayette and his Continentals set the stage for the eventual American victory.

Augustus20 May 2023 2:33 p.m. PST

137 ships?!

Brechtel198 In the TMP Dawghouse20 May 2023 3:28 p.m. PST

That's what one of the references said. The other said 130. It also depends what was meant by 'ship.'

robert piepenbrink Supporting Member of TMP21 May 2023 11:36 a.m. PST

Jefferson lacked a number of attributes as a wartime governor, but this is partly the nature of raids--especially with the raider having command of the sea and benefitting from navigable rivers. The defense can't be strong everywhere, so the raiders can loot and burn at minimal cost, as long as they don't linger. Connecticut took some serious hits--New London in particular--and no one says it was because Jonathan Trumbull wasn't up to the job. We had some success raiding Long Island.

The downside of raids is that sometimes the defense is underestimated, and the raiders come home with a bloody nose, or don't come home at all from an action which was never going to win the war.

Personal logo doc mcb Supporting Member of TMP21 May 2023 1:27 p.m. PST

Meanwhile, out west, Virginia is conquering the Ohio Valley. Under Jefferson's leadership.


To George Rogers Clark
Richmond december 25th. 1780.Sir
A powerful army forming by our enemies in the south renders it necessary for us to reserve as much of our militia as possible free to act in that quarter. At the same time we have reason to believe that a very extensive combination of British and Indian savages is preparing to invest our western frontier. To prevent the cruel murders and devastations which attend the latter species of war and at the same time to prevent it's producing a powerful diversion of our force from the southern quarter in which they mean to make their principal effort and where alone success can be decisive of their ultimate object, it becomes necessary that we aim the first stroke in the western country and throw the enemy under the embarrassments of a defensive war rather than labour under them ourselves. We have therefore determined that an expedition shall be undertaken under your command in a very early season of the approaching year into the hostile country beyond the Ohio, the principal object of which is to be the reduction of the British post at Detroit, and incidental to it the acquiring possession of Lake Erie. The force destined for this enterprize is the Ilinois battalion, Colo. Crockets battalion, Major Slaughters corps, with detachments of militia from the counties of Fayette, Lincoln, Jefferson, Ohio, Monongalia, Hampshire, Berkeley, Frederic and Greenbrier making in the whole 2000 men, necessary garrisons only to be deducted.

The first part of a very long letter, showing Jefferson's attention to detail, as well as excellence in instructing commanders operating far away from the center of government. Explain clearly what is wanted, and give the man on the spot freedom to use his initiative and fill in the blanks.

And it is clear here, as elsewhere, that TJ gave priority to supporting the Continental war effort in the south, over state defense,

Kevin is wrong in his characterization of Jefferson.

Brechtel198 In the TMP Dawghouse21 May 2023 2:26 p.m. PST

Under Jefferson's leadership.

Jefferson was leading the effort 'out west'? Or was he sitting on his hands while the British were ravaging the James River area, including Richmond.

The characterizations of Jefferson are correct, and it took him a long time to overcome the stigma of his lack of action and preparedness to face the British threat.

And it appears that most of the militia effort in Virginia was as a 'reserve.'

The excerpt posted sounds very similar to Jefferson's strategic 'judgment' for the taking of Canada during the War of 1812.

He was a failure as a wartime governor.

Personal logo doc mcb Supporting Member of TMP21 May 2023 5:57 p.m. PST

You are picking a fight; we've had this debate before. Of course TJ's political opponents tarred him with such accusations. But are you saying either that TJ had nothing to do with GRC's success in the northwest, or that GRC's campaign was unimportant?

Personal logo doc mcb Supporting Member of TMP21 May 2023 6:04 p.m. PST

Heh heh heh:
n 1781, Virginia Governor Thomas Jefferson promoted Clark to brigadier general and gave him command of all the militia in the Kentucky and Illinois counties. As Clark prepared to lead another expedition against the British and their allies in Detroit, General Washington transferred a small group of regulars to assist, but the detachment was disastrously defeated in August 1781 before they could meet up with Clark. This ended the western campaign.[34][35]

Doc adds: Not sure wiki has this correct; the defeated "regulars" may have been militia. Otoh, Clark's force was built around Va State regulars (illinois Bn and Crockett's).

Personal logo doc mcb Supporting Member of TMP21 May 2023 6:10 p.m. PST

Okay, very interesting:


GW did try to send a Continental force but that fell through due to command disputes (see wiki). The force destroyed was Pa militia.

Jefferson tried to coordinate under very difficult circumstances.

Personal logo doc mcb Supporting Member of TMP21 May 2023 6:11 p.m. PST

In late 1780, Clark traveled east to consult with Thomas Jefferson, the governor of Virginia, about an expedition in 1781. Jefferson devised a plan which called for Clark to lead 2,000 men against Detroit, with the hope of preventing a rumored British offensive against Kentucky.[8] To avoid potential conflicts over rank with Continental Army colonels while organizing the campaign, Clark requested that Jefferson promote him to brigadier general in the Continental Army. Army rules precluded Clark from receiving a Continental commission, however, because Clark held his colonel's commission from Virginia rather than the United States. Jefferson instead promoted Clark to the Virginia rank of "Brigadier General of the forces to be embodied on an expedition westward of the Ohio".[9] In January, Clark left for Fort Pitt in western Pennsylvania to assemble his men and supplies. His goal was to have the expedition ready for departure from Fort Pitt by June 15.[10]

As with earlier campaigns, recruiting enough men was a problem. Jefferson called for the western counties of Virginia to provide militia manpower for Clark's campaign, but county officials protested that they could not spare the men.[11] Militiamen did not want to set out on a lengthy expedition—they would be gone for six months to a year[12]—while their families and homes were threatened by Lord Cornwallis's army in the east, by Indian raids from the north, and by Loyalists at home.[13] Because of this resistance, Jefferson called for volunteers rather than ordering the militia to accompany the expedition.[14]

In addition to volunteers, Jefferson also arranged for a regiment of 200 regular Continental soldiers under Colonel John Gibson to accompany Clark.[15] Longstanding tensions between Continental Army officers and the militia made such cooperation problematic, however. Colonel Daniel Brodhead, the Continental Army commander at Fort Pitt, refused to detach men for Clark's campaign because he was staging his own expedition against the Delaware Indians, who had recently entered the war against the Americans.[16] Brodhead marched into the Ohio Country and destroyed the Delaware Indian capital of Coshocton in April. This resulted in the Delaware becoming more determined enemies, and deprived Clark of badly needed men and supplies for the Detroit campaign.[17]

Brechtel198 In the TMP Dawghouse21 May 2023 6:14 p.m. PST

Using Wikipedia as a source is suspect at best. In short, Wikipedia is unreliable and the 'scholarship' is suspect.

Bill N21 May 2023 6:17 p.m. PST

We have been through this a number of times.

The 1779 raid on Virginia took place during Patrick Henry's administration, not Jefferson's. After the 1779 raid elements of Virginia State forces were deployed to Charleston where they were captured when that city fell. Elements of the Virginia State Garrison Regiment, the Virginia Horse and the Virginia State Artillery were sent southwards as reinforcements under Porterfield. Troops from the Virginia State forces also went to rebuild Buford's regiment. By the time Leslie arrived the Virginia state forces had been gutted to support the campaigns in the Carolinas. Not to mention Virginia's militia contributions to those campaigns, a number of whom were still serving with Gates when Leslie arrived in Virginia. Within a relatively short time after Leslie arrived Virginia under Jefferson had mobilized substantial forces under Nelson, Weedon, Muhlenburg and Lawson. Green's continental regiment then in formation was also deployed to oppose Leslie. Jefferson also directed that military stores be moved to locations where Leslie was less likely to reach them, and arranged to have the British Saratoga prisoners relocated. Leslie ended up moving south before doing much damage. Certainly much less damage than was suffered in the 1779 raid.

Shortly after Leslie left, Steuben arrived and took over. So what did Steuben do? In November he told Jefferson that Nelson's militia should be demobilized to save expenses. He dispatched Green's regiment south to join the Continental army in the Carolinas. He wanted to also send Lawson's militia to join Greene, but approaching enlistment expirations ruled that out. So when Arnold's ships arrive off the Virginia capes Steuben had little to oppose him. What Steuben did have was mostly deployed to defend Petersburg, and thus was not available to defend Richmond.

What was Jefferson's response to the arrival of Arnold? He called out substantial portions of the Piedmont militia. He authorized Nelson to call out as much of the militia of the lower Tidewater as he saw fit. Whether Nelson was able to prevent Arnold from taking Williamsburg or whether the move on Williamsburg was a feint is debatable. Jefferson made arrangements to move substantial stores and public documents out of Richmond. Virginia couldn't move everything, and some of it was not moved far enough.

If we want to play the blame game Henry in 1779 and Steuben in 1781 have as much or more to answer for as Jefferson. There is another way to look at it. The Americans simply did not have adequate resources to address all threats. Some areas were stripped of resources in order to provide more resources in areas deemed more important or more threatened. As early as 1779 George Washington said that the threats posed by British raids on Virginia did not justify holding back troops that otherwise could be used to confront the British in the Carolinas. That attitude remained in 1780 and early 1781.

Personal logo doc mcb Supporting Member of TMP21 May 2023 7:33 p.m. PST

Kevin, TJ had multiple objectives, including defending the state and supporting the Continental war effort. Which of the two do you think he should have given priority?

As to Wiki, if you read carefully you will see that I checked and corrected one of their assertions (which was less in error than simply vague). I KNOW wiki's problems, but i also find it useful. It is pedantic to reject all uses of it.

42flanker22 May 2023 3:00 a.m. PST

This is fun. I"m sure I missed something the last time..
Or, perhaps, the time before that.

Personal logo doc mcb Supporting Member of TMP22 May 2023 4:26 a.m. PST

Well, I did pick up one thing of which I had not been aware, from the Wiki articles: the attempt to reenforce GRC with Continentals, and Lochries defeat.

Personal logo doc mcb Supporting Member of TMP22 May 2023 4:29 a.m. PST

But Kevin, do you think Jefferson, as governor, should have prioritized defense of the state over aiding the Continental war effort in the Carolinas? Did TJ have his priorities wrong? The only way we can discuss this is if you respond to reasonable questions.

Brechtel198 In the TMP Dawghouse22 May 2023 4:41 a.m. PST

Jefferson should have been aware of the possibility of destructive British raids and made preparations for that possibility. He was warned of the impending possibility of more British incursions because of the previous raid at the end of Henry's tenure as governor. He certainly should have been aware of the destructiveness that British raids could cause.

Paying attention to the western part of the state and Clark's operations is not an excuse for inaction in the main part of the state.

That should not have interfered with tobaccco production or the production of salt. As smart as Jefferson was supposed to be, he should have figured that out. Again, he sat on his hands and was caught unprepared, and ran for his life deserting his post in the end leaving Virginia without a chief executive until he was replaced by Thomas Nelson on 12 June, leaving a void of leadership for nine days.

'The philosophical qualities that made him so conspicuous as a planner and prophet were of little avail to him, however, as an executive. Resourceful in counsel, he was ever hesitant and reluctant in the exercise of authority, the very necessity of which he deplored.'

robert piepenbrink Supporting Member of TMP22 May 2023 6:13 a.m. PST

You must tell us about the preparations he should have made, Brechtel. Enough cannon and earthworks (with garrisons) to block the mouths of all navigable rivers? Even more trained regulars than potential invaders, given the invaders would always be faster, and could land anywhere?

If you'd like to beat up Jefferson, may I offer a better target? Horses for Continental cavalry. The Continentals were allowed to confiscate horses up to the value the government was to compensate the owner--which was set low enough to protect gentlemen's bloodstock, and only allow the cavalry poor farmers' nags. Whatever else Jefferson was or was not, he was always a member of the planter class.

But how he or any governor could have defended Virginia against major coastal raids under the conditions of c. 1780, I have no idea.

Personal logo doc mcb Supporting Member of TMP22 May 2023 6:13 a.m. PST

Or, possibly, he was perfectly aware of the danger but chose to prioritize support for Greene -- which was an area where Virginia's limited resources might be effective -- over trying to defend the TIDEWATER (Why is it called that?) against an enemy with naval supremacy.

Your final paragraph is reasonably accurate. His papers reveal him to have been, indeed, leery of a strong executive.

However, you overlook the role of Colonel William Davies who -- with TJ's support -- had coordinated the considerable Continental infrastructure in the state, continuing to provide Greene with lead and gunpowder and leather equipment and musket repairs. Nelson -- a militia commander -- simply continued in that role as governor during the Yorktown campaign, when what was needed was a administrator to stay home and coordinate everything. If Davies had not continued to do that, Nelson would have been ineffective.

TJ's support for Davies included protecting his workers from militia duty -- which eventually became their main "paycheck."

Personal logo doc mcb Supporting Member of TMP22 May 2023 6:16 a.m. PST

Based on my extensive readings of the Virginia state papers, Davies' description of his contribution here is accurate:
link (This is to GW in 1789, asking for a job.)

I have no other recommendation or testimonial in my favor, than my past conduct and present situation can give me. Perhaps it would be foreign to the purpose to mention the length of my service in the army or my employments in it; and it might be deemed unbecoming to assume any merit from my conduct, while at the head of the war department in Virginia, during a busy and difficult period of near two years, thro' an important part of which, from an almost entire derangement of the Executive, a very large share of the public business was of necessity thrown under my direction: For my constant exertions in aid of the southern army, I experienced a repetition of the warmest acknowledgements from General Greene & Colonel Carrington, and towards the close of the war when the department was discontinued, I received from the Executive the most honorable testimonials in my favor.2 I have ventured to mention these circumstances as a presumptive proof of diligence, as well as of some acquaintance with the nature and duties of military arrangements.

TJ valued Davies highly.

Personal logo doc mcb Supporting Member of TMP22 May 2023 6:20 a.m. PST

The "almost entire derangement of the executive" was as much or rather more under Nelson as under TJ -- who, as mentioned, supported Davies and worked closely with him.

Personal logo doc mcb Supporting Member of TMP22 May 2023 6:26 a.m. PST

WHY did Cornwallis decide to invade Virginia after Guilford? Was it because he realized that he could not hold the Carolinas as long as Greene was receiving re-enforcements and logistical support from Virginia? Who, as governor, was most responsible for those aids to Greene? That would be Governor Thomas Jefferson.

That TJ's political enemies attacked him when things went badly is perfectly understandable. That you choose to credit their attacks, two centuries later, is less understandable.

Personal logo doc mcb Supporting Member of TMP22 May 2023 6:37 a.m. PST

and robert's question is excellent: just HOW would you, as governor, have defended the tidewater from British raids? The only thing that could be done -- and WAS done -- was to maintain militia lookouts at the head of each river to give warning when British raiders came up. (Which happened often; there were many privateers.)

Btw, an excellent skirmish scenario would be a party of privateers from a British ship on the river trying to plunder a plantation. That is an opportunity to use "Dunmore's Ethiopians" figures -- possibly on both sides, for the privateers typically included blacks, while slaves were the favored loot -- to be sold in the Caribbean. The defenders would be a few militia, a few planter-types, and conceivably some of the slaves, some of whom may have preferred staying where they were as opposed to being carried off to a new enslavement probably under more onerous conditions. Could have a die roll for attitude and reaction of plantation slaves when they come into contact with the raiders.

Personal logo doc mcb Supporting Member of TMP22 May 2023 6:45 a.m. PST

robert, good point about horses. One of the decision points for the militia in an invasion was whether to mount gentlemen as volunteer cavalry. They were reluctant to do so, because it risked the "best people" who were also, typically, the leaders (of the militia as well as politically and socially). But such volunteer light horse were indeed typically excellently mounted, and brave, but undisciplined. And would have included some black faces: if young master got on the best horse in the stables to go skirmish and scout the British, his body servant -- armed -- would be with him on the second best horse. It was a feudal society.

Personal logo doc mcb Supporting Member of TMP22 May 2023 7:00 a.m. PST

Urwin's THE UNITED STATES CAVALRY: AN ILLUSTRATED HISTORY includes a plate (#4, 1781) showing three figures, one of which is "private, Corps of Virginia Light Horse, 1781." The caption reads: "A Virgina physician wrote of this motley outfit in his diary: 'most of our Horse are Volunteers, in small bodies, & chiefly Gentlemen; most of them exceedingly well mounted, but some of them badly armed, & all under very little disciple, & hard to govern." Figure is in white stable clothes, jockey cap, and wear leather accoutrements intended for the 3rd Cont'l Dragoons and issued form state stores.

Personal logo doc mcb Supporting Member of TMP22 May 2023 7:06 a.m. PST

This is turning into an interesting thread. Thanks, Kevin.

Personal logo doc mcb Supporting Member of TMP22 May 2023 7:10 a.m. PST

Some good stuff here on western frontier and Virginia state regulars


Personal logo doc mcb Supporting Member of TMP22 May 2023 7:12 a.m. PST


TJ's notes on preparing for invasion, 1779

Notes on Threatened British Invasion
[December 1779]

Pro Con.
1. French ships. 1. Too unimportant.
2. Convention troops. 2. Impracticable.
3. Forage.
Pilot taken away. Length of time and the winds.
Season too severe.
They give out this as their object.
Danger of being blocked up by French fleet.


Look-out boats.
Remove cannon.
Remove prisoners from jail and barracks.
Remove public records and treasury.
Navy. To be withdrawn up to Fendant.
Militia. Call ⅓ from counties below Blue ridge. This will be 8000 of those who will actually come. Send Garrison regiment to York. Call down Knox's men from Lynch's ferry. Deliver orders to Colo. Bland for stopping Genl. Scott should he be ready to march.
Convention troops to be ready to move over Blue ridge. ⅓ of Militia from nearest counties above Bl. ridge, amounting to 2000. to come to barracks. Colo. Bland to be in readiness to repair there. Qu. whether better to march Conventioners in a body directly Westward, or disperse them in parties of 50 each, in different directions beyond Bl. ridge.
Quarter master. Have waggons and boats ready. Have expresses ready.
Assembly to enable us to enlist men to serve during invasion. Provide money. Inform them we mean to call lower militia to York instantly and neighborhood of Portsmth. Take their sense whether other militia shall be called in before actual invasion. Mention tardiness of calling in by divisions.
N (DLC); entirely in TJ's hand; undated.

These notes may be confidently dated from internal evidence, since they correspond in many details with the exchanges between TJ and the Board of War in Dec. 1779 respecting a British invasion threat, of which both Gen. Washington and Gov. Lee of Maryland had warned TJ. See Washington to TJ, 11 Dec.; T. S. Lee to TJ, 20 Dec.; Board of War to TJ, 23 Dec.; TJ's answer of same date; and Washington to TJ, 25 Dec. 1779, which contradicted earlier reports of an invasion threat. Very likely these memoranda were set down for discussion with the Council of State toward the end of this month; the invasion scare was over by mid-January (see TJ to Bland, 18 Jan. 1780). The fendant was a French naval vessel in Virginia waters from Nov. 1779 to Jan. 1780 (see TJ to Pontdevaux, 2 Dec. 1779

Brechtel198 In the TMP Dawghouse22 May 2023 7:35 a.m. PST

Excellent summaries of Clark's operations can be found in Boatner's Encyclopedia as well as the American Heritage volume on the Revolution.

Personal logo doc mcb Supporting Member of TMP22 May 2023 8:17 a.m. PST

Boatner is very useful.

Personal logo Parzival Supporting Member of TMP22 May 2023 9:30 a.m. PST

I think it's a bit odd to include criticism of TJ's position regarding the War of 1812 and his belief in the effectiveness of an invasion of Canada, given that he was not President at the time. He communicated with Madison, of course, and pressured for certain things, but ultimately he was not in charge, and had no authority one way or the other. It is hard to say that he was strategically wrong in calling for conquering Quebec and Halifax; certainly controlling these would have been a significant gain for the war, and hampered British military activity considerably— it was as sound a strategic goal then as it was in the AWI. That the forces sent to do so failed is not a refutation of the overall strategic goal; it is merely a sign that the forces and military leaders assigned to achieve that goal were not capable for the task. So the question of whether Jefferson's strategy was poor or not is the incorrect question; the strategic fault lies on those who failed to properly plan the execution of the operation to achieve the goal— and that failure is most decidedly not on Thomas Jefferson's part.

Personal logo doc mcb Supporting Member of TMP22 May 2023 11:39 a.m. PST

Jefferson was a complicated man, and I have many reservations about him in a number of areas. But he MADE the west. He was instrumental in conquering it (GR Clark) and in organizing it (NW Ordinance -- prohibiting slavery and creating the "add-a-state-plan") and in exploring it (Lewis and Clark) and in expanding it (Louisiana Purchase). All credit to Hamilton, whose principles I on the whole admire more than Jefferson's, but for sheer vision I have to go with the Virginian. And he built a fine university, though sadly infected with perverse ideologies at the moment.

Brechtel198 In the TMP Dawghouse22 May 2023 12:09 p.m. PST

Another reliable source is Ward's two-volume study on the War of the Revolution. Clark's exploits and Jefferson's misadventures are covered in Chapters 82 and 83 of Volume II, respectively.

Personal logo doc mcb Supporting Member of TMP22 May 2023 1:35 p.m. PST

Yes, I own Ward and have read it several times.

Perverse ideologies would be the whole Woke pantheon of bad ideas.


University of Virginia's student newspaper have mustered a truly bizarre response: They've concluded that the real problem is that there is too much free speech and freedom of thought at their institution.

In a group editorial entitled "Dangerous rhetoric Is not entitled to a platform," the editors of the Cavalier Daily ask how much intellectual diversity should be permitted on campus and then explain, "For us, the answer is simple. Hateful rhetoric is violent — and this is impermissible."

A declaration that speech should be "impermissible" if someone deems it "hateful" is, of course, wildly at odds with a free press or the First Amendment. That's troubling enough. But the bitter irony is that it's being offered up by the student journalists who oversee the campus newspaper at the esteemed public university founded by Thomas Jefferson, author of the Declaration of Independence.

Jefferson was something of an absolutist on free speech. After all, it was he who famously observed, "Were it left to me to decide whether we should have a government without newspapers, or newspapers without a government, I should not hesitate a moment to prefer the latter."

Doc adds: I'm something of an absolutist on free speech too.

35thOVI Supporting Member of TMP22 May 2023 2:51 p.m. PST

No NOT "Right Wing"

From Rasmussen Reports

Media/Bias fact check

Factual Reporting: Mostly Factual – Mostly Credible and Reliable

These media sources are slightly to moderately conservative in bias. They often publish factual information that utilizes loaded words (wording that attempts to influence an audience by using appeal to emotion or stereotypes) to favor conservative causes. These sources are generally trustworthy for information, but may require further investigation. See all Right-Center sources.

Overall, we rate RealClearPolicy Right-Center Biased based on story selection that moderately favors the Right. We also rate them Mostly Factual rather than High due to sometimes utilizing sources that have Mixed records with facts.

Personal logo doc mcb Supporting Member of TMP23 May 2023 6:37 a.m. PST

"If the government prohibits a book" WHERE? Everywhere? or just in governmetn schools?

35thOVI Supporting Member of TMP23 May 2023 7:50 a.m. PST

Kevin, Kevin, Kevin

You deride Doc for his source and use The Daily
Beast and CNN 🤣😂

All the fact checker sources lean left, so take CNN as "Mostly Factual", with 10 grains of salt. 😂 I mean they gave us or repeated, Russian Collusion, Hunter Biden Laptop Russian Disinformation, The vaccine will keep you from getting Covid, the Vaccine will keep you from spreading Covid, Mask work, Covid originated in a wet market, Nick Sandmann was a racist…. I could go on, but the point is made.

The Daily Beast

A questionable source exhibits one or more of the following: extreme bias, consistent promotion of propaganda/conspiracies, poor or no sourcing to credible information, a complete lack of transparency, and/or is fake news. Fake News is the deliberate attempt to publish hoaxes and/or disinformation for profit or influence (Learn More). Sources listed in the Questionable Category may be very untrustworthy and should be fact-checked on a per-article basis. Please note sources on this list are not considered fake news unless specifically written in the reasoning section for that source. See all Questionable sources.

* Overall, we rate Daily Mail Right Biased and Questionable due to numerous failed fact checks and poor information sourcing.


These media sources are moderately to strongly biased toward liberal causes through story selection and/or political affiliation.  They may utilize strong loaded words (wording that attempts to influence an audience by using appeal to emotion or stereotypes), publish misleading reports, and omit information reporting that may damage liberal causes. Some sources in this category may be untrustworthy. See all Left Bias sources.

* Overall, we rate CNN moderately left-biased based on editorial positions by TV hosts that consistently favor the left, while straight news reporting falls left-center through bias by omission. We also rate them as Mostly Factual in reporting rather than high due to two failed fact checks in the last five years.

robert piepenbrink Supporting Member of TMP23 May 2023 9:07 a.m. PST

Guys, are we not wandering rather far afield from British raids on Virginia and Jefferson as wartime governor?

As regards the War of 1812, I'll grant you he's no longer in office, but his party still is, and many of the US problems are from policies he initiated--a downsized regular army, an emphasis on a gunboat rather than an ocean-going navy, and the demise of the Bank of the United States, making it difficult to impossible to borrow money for the war. (I'm giving him a provisional pass on the extreme partisanship of general officer appointments which made it hard to raise troops in the northeast.) Jefferson is baffled by the continual US defeats, but you never see him saying "why isn't Madison carrying out my policies?" because Madison IS carrying on Jefferson's policies.

I never deny that Jefferson had a very poor grasp of military affairs. I do say that Virginia was almost indefensible in 1780, and it's not clear how much better anyone could have done.

Brechtel198 In the TMP Dawghouse23 May 2023 10:21 a.m. PST

I do say that Virginia was almost indefensible in 1780, and it's not clear how much better anyone could have done.

When the British effort was centered on the James River, I would have to disagree with you.

And the militia being both disorganized and not standing to fight didn't help at all. And Jefferson for all practical purposes abdicating his office of governor was not in the best interests of being willing to defend their state and their homes.

Au pas de Charge23 May 2023 10:32 a.m. PST

The "book banning" is just propaganda. Cite specifics. Removing a book from a reading list is not "banning" it. Librarians choose every day which books to include and which to leave out or remove. And when a book is pornographic it has no business in a primary or secondary school. Every "banned book" is available at Amazon. So NOT banned.

Doc adds: I'm something of an absolutist on free speech too.

Under the 1st Amendment, pornography is protected speech but, as a self styled Free Speech Absolutist, you know that.

If your standard is a time place and manner one, then the book's availability on Amazon would be the same standard as a hate speech speaker chased off a public school campus still having access to making his speech on the street corner.

what would you call it if someone passed a (unconstitutional) law prohibiting anyone from owning or reading a book? Now THAT would be banning.

Do you mean like Indiana's new House Bill 1447 which would criminalize the possession of books the Indiana legislature decides to ban?:


This is just you guys parroting the Left and twisting words to suit a partisan purpose.

I think you would like to believe this, partly because you tend to view the world in an "us" vs. "them" sort of way but I'm just applying 1st Amendment principles in a universal, neutral, case law manner.

If a clearly pornographic book (graphic depiction of sex acts) is removed from a school's library or reading list, is THAT banning?

If the banning body is a State actor, then yes.
Perhaps you could explain your approach to absolute free speech because it appears to have some limitations.

My side is the right.

As in "us" vs. "them". You might be on the right but you display little conservatism except for the desire to keep things the way you approve of them. It is a very different matter to be a conservative with a fair mind vs someone who thinks their side gets to always be right and damn the Constitution. Incidentally, I know you didn't bring this up but differences between types of conservative abound. For instance no true republican could possibly support the confederacy in any way whatsoever. I mention this because some conservatives can be merely interested in arresting social change while many extreme right wingers, while claiming to be patriots, are actually anti-American anarchists; such as Elmer the Oath keeper leader.

And is THIS extremism?


I dont know much about her but her behavior does seem a bit extreme. However, although I dont know what capacity she was acting under there, she is a somewhat private person, she is not the government and the 1st Amendment doesn't completely apply to her. I dont know why but you rarely seem to be able to defend the wild generalities you make without then dragging in "whataboutisms". Another characteristic of a true conservative is a "The buck stops here" mentality.

Dn Jackson Supporting Member of TMP23 May 2023 5:10 p.m. PST

"And which 'perverse ideologies' would that be…?"


I also find the criticism that TJ left the state in a power vacume for nine days a little odd. In the 20th or 21st centuries that would be a major failure, but in the 18th century, not so much.

I am no TJ fan, his theories on naval warfare cost us badly during the War of 1812. I do, however, try to be fair.

Bill N24 May 2023 4:42 p.m. PST

This is fun. I"m sure I missed something the last time.

One reason I frequently hit it and run on these debates.

The typical studies of the AWI seldom venture into topics such as Constitutional developments as the Colonial governments transformed into state governments, state demographics, the American economy and finances during the AWI or changing views of the population as the war progressed.

It is not surprising therefore that USA (regular army) oriented histories border on the idea that politicians in the Continental Congress and State political leaders could snap their fingers and waive their magic wands and the wants of the army would be met. Or in this instance that Virginia might somehow from its own resources put together an armed forces that could provide complete immediate defense to the state while simultaneously pumping men into a southern army also screaming for men…while also defending her western borders. By late in the war it would be hard to name something that wasn't in short supply in the colonies. It wasn't just French and Spanish troops and ships that kept things going. It was also French, Spanish and Dutch money and goods.

Personal logo doc mcb Supporting Member of TMP24 May 2023 6:19 p.m. PST

Bill, yes. TJ and GW well understood that Va was indefensible against an enemy with naval supremacy. But it had lots of land and lots of men (50,000 militia). Secret was to use them to best effect.

Personal logo doc mcb Supporting Member of TMP24 May 2023 6:20 p.m. PST

Which state's Continental line contributed most? Delaware was excellent but tiny. Maryland ditto and ditto. Va had about the most, i think?

robert piepenbrink Supporting Member of TMP24 May 2023 6:31 p.m. PST

We sometimes underestimate how much damage was done by the loss of the Southern Army at Charleston. All but one of the Virginia infantry regiments was lost. The state never again fields more than two battalions of regulars, and if memory serves was trying to eke them out with 90-day draftees out of the militia under whatever Continental officers weren't with their units in Charleston. And there were fairly serious riots getting 90-day men.

Personal logo doc mcb Supporting Member of TMP25 May 2023 8:09 a.m. PST

Yes. Robert have you read my dissertation? John McBride, "The Virginia War Effort: Manpower Policies and Practices" UVa 1977

There has been some new stuff since, but it still holds up pretty well.
Virginia still had lots of men, and plenty of supernumerary Continental officers, and a fair many discharged veterans back in the militia. But the demands on them, on both frontiers and in enforcing the drafts and suppressing dissent, and in re-enforcing Greene while keeping the workshops (leather, musket repair, etc) in operation, was all but overwhelming.

robert piepenbrink Supporting Member of TMP25 May 2023 3:00 p.m. PST

Thank you, doc. No, I haven't and I probably should. Is there a good way to access it?

Personal logo doc mcb Supporting Member of TMP27 May 2023 6:28 a.m. PST


Here's the abstract. It says it has been digitalized and I am investigating how to get an e-copy.

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