Governor Henry to George Wythe, the Speaker of the House of Delegates, 7 January 1778
Letter text, January 7, 1778
From the Importance of the Matters contained in the inclosed [sic] Papers, I have been induced to loose no Time in sending them to you. Secrecy in the Discussion is thought by Congress to be necessary. In case the Legislature shall make any Regulations in the purchasing Comissarys [sic] Department, Despatch [sic] is necessary from the advanced Season of the Year. With great Regard I have the Honor to be
The Honble George Wythe Esqr.,
Speaker at the House of Delegates
Letter text, January 10, 1778
Resolved, That the Governor, be desired to transmit to the Governor of North Carolina, a copy of the act of Assembly “for enabling the public contractors to procure stores of provisions necessary for the ensuing campaign, and to prohibit the exportation of beef, pork and bacon, for a limited time;” and inform him of the necessity which the legislature of this Commonwealth hath been under, to adopt the most speedy and effectual measures, for supplying the army with provisions, and represent the expediency of our sister States co-operating therein, in case their Assembly is now sitting, or their executive is vested with powers for that purpose.
Letter text, January 12, 1778
Henry Stratton who was Mate of the Rochester a trading Vessel lately belonging to the State, having made his Escape from Philadelphia where he & the rest of the crew had been confined as prisoners, & applying in Behalf of himself & Captain Bozeman Commander of the said Vessel who still continues a prisoner in Philadelphia, for some part of their pay- the Governor asked the opinion of the Board whether they are, under such Circumstances, intitled [sic] Whereupon the Council advised that altho in such Cases, the Seamen in the service of private Adventurers, are not intitled [sic] to pay, yet it would be a good Regulation in point of policy, for the State to allow the whole pay to the time of the Capture & half pay during Captivity as it would not only be an Inducement to the Captives to return to the Service, but also give the State an advantage over private Traders in procuring necessary Seamen at a Time when it is so difficult to procure them- And then his Excellency directed that the Agent for Trade take this Rule for his Government in all such Cases.
Letter text, January 14, 1778
James Madison jun. Esquire, who hath been duly elected a Member of the Privy Council, appeared, and the Oath of Office being administered to him he took his Seat at the Board accordingly.
The Governor having communicated to the Board a Letter from a Commoner of Congress, of the 31st December last, representing the alarming accounts of the Distresses of the American Army for the Want of Provision, in somuch [sic] that it is hinted to Congress, by General Washington, that the Troops, unless an immediate supply is sent, must either “Starve Dissolve or Disperse” and asking the advice of the Council thereupon- they do advise his Excellency to give Directions to Colonel Aylett the continental Commissary, forthwith to send off an active intelligent & proper Person to the Northwestern Parts of this State in order to buy up all the Pork Beef & Bacon that can be procured, & to forward it with all possible Dispatch to Headquarters, & to pro-
cure Waggons for conveying such Salt & other Necessaries as his Excellency may think can best be supplyed [sic] from hence. All which the Governor orders accordingly and he also with Advice of the Council sent ye said Letter to the Assembly.
His Excellency informed the Council that he had prevailed on Colonel David Rogers of the Senate, to convey to the Governor of New Orleans by way of the Missisipi, [sic] a Letter which he was anxious to send & laying the same before them it was read approved of & ordered to be recorded.
His Excellency then laid before the Council the Instructions to Colonel Rogers which were also approved of viz.
You are to proceed with out [sic] Loss of time to engage a Lieutenant Ensign & twenty eight Men on double pay & with them you are to go to New Orleans with Dispatches to the Governor of that Place. I expect some Goods are to be sent from thence to this State which you will take under your Care & safely convey home with Answers to my Letters. General Hand will be desired to give you Assistance as to the Boats &c. necessary for the Trip.
I desire to know the Strength of the English Possessions on Missisippi [sic] & whether they supply the West Indies with any & what Articles. The present State, Temper & Condition of these People must be gathered by such Means as will not endanger Discovery. You are to consider of a Proper Place to fix a Post at for Facilitating & securing the Trade to New Orleans & Consult the Spanish Governor on it.
Describe to that Gentleman the real Strength & Situation of Virginia the Progress of the War & whatever else he may wish to know of the American Confederacy.
You are to convey my Instructions to Colonel Clark by which he is directed to escort you homeward & you are to correspond with me & let me know the upshot of this Business as soon as possible.