Osborne's (James River), Virginia

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Osborne's (James River), Virginia

OSBORNE'S (JAMES RIVER), VIRGINIA. 27 April 1781. Osborne's on the James River served as the main facility for the small Virginia state navy, which by 1781 lay in mothballs under the guard of a small caretaker detachment. Major General William Phillips marched from Petersburg the morning of the 27th with the main British force and proceeded to Chesterfield Court House to keep the Americans at bay. Learning of the weak defenses, he detached Benedict Arnold with a strike force built around John Simcoe's Queen's Rangers, the Hessian jägers, and the Seventy-sixth and Eightieth Foot to destroy them. Arnold skillfully employed four light British fieldpieces to drive the supporting militia from the opposite bank, and one of them silenced the Tempest, the only vessel capable of action, when a lucky shot severed its cable. The caretaker crews attempted to set the vessels on fire, but quick action by Simcoe's men secured them. Arnold captured five vessels and more than two thousand hogsheads of tobacco. A number of other craft and the shore installations were destroyed.

SEE ALSO Arnold, Benedict; Petersburg, Virginia; Phillips, William; Simcoe, John Graves; Virginia, Military Operations in.


Simcoe, John Graves. A Journal of the Operations of the Queen's Rangers. New York: New York Times, 1968.

                          revised by Robert K. Wright Jr.

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Osborne's (James River), Virginia

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