General Phillips arrived at Portsmouth, Virginia, March 26, 1781, with two thousand men, and took command of the British at that place.
Major Posey of the Continental army had returned to Staunton by the 27th of March, and on that day wrote to Governor Jefferson that according to Baron Steuben’s orders he could not enlist any man under 5 feet 4 inches. There were men well adapted to military service who did not reach that standard, and he asked for discretionary powers in such cases. The Baron was a Prussian, of the military school of King Frederick William, who had a mania on the subject of tall soldiers.
Anticipating an advance of the enemy from Portsmouth, the State authorities sought to recruit the Continental ranks by again calling out the militia. The condition of affairs in the Valley at this time appears from letters written by military officers to the Governor, which we find in the Calendar of State Papers.
Col. William Preston, County Lieutenant of Montgomery, wrote, on April 13, 1781, that “nearly one-half of our militia are disaffected, and therefore cannot be drawn into the service either by threats or otherwise; and should they be punished according to law, they would either withdraw to the mountains, or embody or disturb the peace of the county.” Moreover, the frontier of the county was exposed to depredations by Indians, and the men could not join Greene’s army without leaving their families exposed.
On the 20th of April, Col. Samuel McDowell, of Rockbridge, wrote to the Governor that a draft was ordered to take place on the 26th, but the men drawn would be ruined. Most of them were in service in the fall of 1780, when Leslie invaded the State, and were prevented from sowing fall crops, and to go now would prevent their raising spring crops. With few exceptions they would leave no one at home to work their farms. The letter continues: “This county had, in October last, Capt. James Gilmer [Gilmore] and forty-odd men in Carolina, under Gen. Morgan, for near four months, and was
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Edited Annals of Augusta County,Virginia, from 1726 to 1871 copyright © 2006-2017 by EagleRidge Technologies, Inc..