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J. Banister to Patrick Henry, March 27, 1778
My letter of yesterday mentioned the embarkation of some troops from Rhode Island, and I now find that the conjectures respecting their destination were well founded. General Washington in a letter of the 24th, tells Congress, that some people of Rhode Island having got the enemies countersign mixed among them, and became fully acquainted with their intended junction with Howe, which in a very few days will be effected. The general in his letter is earnest in his address to Congress, and more than unusually so, that they would send forward the intended recruits for the army, and seems in no doubt of the enemy’s intention of being in the field early in full force to act with vigor. If they get possession of this state they may easily keep up their army. The general says few of the drafts “said to have been made in Virginia and Carolina are arrived in camp.” He desires that none may halt on their march under pretence of getting equipt. The Carolina troops who marched last fall are not up as far even as this place.
The Virginia volunteers would do well to come into service, if a formidable body can be induced to venture out on this critical occasion. It is not improbable that General Howe, expecting troops from England either late in the season or not at all, is determined, as he knows the weak state of our army, to make an effort against it before its recruits shall arrive to reinforce it.
I thought it my duty to give you this intelligence before it can reach you through the slow movements of Congress, that so happily Virginia may be active in rescuing a sister state, perhaps an army, from ruin. The signal service of being instrumental in such good needs not a comment. I am with every respect, sir, your Excellency’s most obdt servant.
Another embarkation is made at New York, and I am clear they are drawing all to a point, in which we should imitate them.
His Excellency, Patrick Henry. Govr of Virginia.
Printed in William Wirt Henry, Patrick Henry: Life, Correspondence, and Speeches (1891), 3: 153.