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Richmond, Virginia

Richmond, Virginia

RICHMOND, VIRGINIA. 5-7 January 1781. Although it had a population of only eighteen hundred, half of them slaves, Richmond on the James River offered a secure place for supplies. Because it was also less vulnerable to a sudden amphibious attack than Williamsburg, it became the new capital of Virginia in May 1779. When Brigadier General Benedict Arnold's expedition landed eight hundred troops at Westover, thirty miles downriver, on 4 January, Governor Thomas Jefferson could only mobilize between two hundred and three hundred men to defend the town. The Americans moved most of the military supplies to safety before Arnold arrived on the 5th. The defenders withdrew without firing a shot and the British did not conduct a serious pursuit. Lieutenant Colonel John Graves Simcoe then led his Queen's Rangers and the flank companies of the Eightieth Foot to destroy the nearby Westham Foundry. After burning warehouses and a number of other buildings, Arnold withdrew on the 6th and arrived back at Westover on the 7th, losing nine men to desertion or straggling.

SEE ALSO Arnold, Benedict; Jefferson, Thomas; Simcoe, John Graves; Virginia, Military Operations in.


Simcoe, John Graves. A Journal of the Operations of the Queen's Rangers. Exeter, U.K.: Printed for the author, 1787.

                           revised by Robert K. Wright Jr.

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