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Patrick Henry to John Montgomery, December 12, 1778

December 12, 1778.

You are forthwith to put on foot the recruiting of men to reinforce Colonel Clarke at the Illinois, & to push it on with all possible expedition. As soon as the number of one hundred can be collected, let them be sent on under the proper officers and join Colonel Clarke. If you think that number too small to go in safety, add to it until you judge the number large enough to resist the attacks that may be expected from the Indians.


You will cause the proper vessels for transporting the Troops down the Cherokee River to be built and ready before they are wanted. Let no time be lost in doing that. Mr. James Buchanan you must direct to lay in the provisions necessary. You will get powder and flints from Colonel Fleming’s, and lead from the mines, sufficient for the use of the parties on their march.


Blank Commissions for the officers of five Companies are delivered you, to be filled up as the numbers of men they recruit shall entitle them as to date and Rank. If any officer who is intrusted to recruit shall fail to enlist and produce his quota in a reasonable time, such as the Exigence & pressing necessity to relieve and secure the Illinois Country do require, in that case the officer so failing is to give up the men he has enlisted together with his recruiting instructions to you, or such other person as you appoint to succeed him, and if the person you appoint to succeed him fails, in due time, to enlist and produce the Quota for which he undertakes to recruit, you are to make a new appointment until every Quota is full, or so near full as to be fit to march. You are to take especial Care to appoint men proper to be officers; and as this matter from the necessity of the Case is intrusted to you, an improper appointment will reflect great dishonour upon you.


As soon as the State of affairs in the recruiting business will permit, you are to go to the Illinois Country & join Colonel Clarke. I need not tell you how necessary the greatest possible Dispatch is to the good of the service in which you are engaged. Our party at Illinois may be lost, together with the present favorable Disposition of the French and Indians there, unless every moment is improved for their preservation, & no future opportunity, if the present is lost, can ever be expected so favorable to the Interest of the Commonwealth. I therefore urge it on you, to exert yourself to the utmost to lose not a moment to forward the great work you have in hand, and to conquer every difficulty in your way, arising from an inclement season, great distances, want of many necessaries, Opposition from enemies, and others I can’t enumerate, but must confide in your Virtue to guard against & surmount.


Captain Isaac Shelby it is desired may prepare the boats. But if he can’t do it, you must get some other person.


You receive ten thousand pounds cash for Col Clarke’s Corps, which you are to deliver him, except two hundred pounds for Captain Shelby to build the boats, and what other Incidental Expenses happen necessarily on your way, which are to come out of that sum.


Yours &c,


Patrick Henry. Lieutenant Colonel John Montgomery.

Printed in William Wirt Henry, Patrick Henry: Life, Correspondence, and Speeches (1891), 3: 216.

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