Norfolk. April 27th [17]94


Dr. Sir

I got to this place on the night of the 23d a day memorable in the annals of Virga for the revival of the barbarous custom of tarring & feathering.

It may perhaps not be improper to relate to you the transaction in the exact manner in which it happened.

A danish vessel cleared out for Boston by M. Heth was arrested by a party of militia sent for the purpose & brought back to this port on suspicion of having intended to avoid the embargo. The party on their return up Elizabeth river determined to salute the french frigate La Concorde, in preparing for which a gun bursted (musquet) & killed one of the militia. The corpse was brought up for interment when a drunken fellow from Baltimore seeing it gave loose to some illadvised remarks upon the subject, for which he was seized tarred & feathered.

The mob consisted of more than 400 including 150 negroes & peaceably dispersed doing no act of violence save the punishment of the Marylander. The precedent is replete with danger especially as the negroes follow in the procession. N[egroes] may teach that body their strength.

I wrote to you from Wmsbg & reckon your answer will be here tomorrow. The information therein required is now wanted.

Major Rivarde arrived on the 24th since which we have been employed in examining the points of defence on the river.

He is a sensible active well informed officer & I hope fully equal to the object of his mission.

A Mr. Courly at Crouchs tavern would be useful here, please to send to him the enclosed letr & also forward by the first safe conveyance my letr to Mr Beale.

Before I left Richmond I put into the Auditors hands a letr from Mr John Clarke. Enquire into the business & forward an answer. I believe [sic] I omitted to mention this matter to you before my departure. Accept my best wishes & present me to the gentlemen of the council.

I am yrs

with great respect

Your ob: sv

Henry Lee




Source: Checked against original letter, Henry Lee Letter, SC 00540, Earl Swem Library Special Collections, College of William and Mary

Transcribed by Colin Woodward, 2018 October 31   

Richard Crouch, who owned a tavern in Richmond called the Virginia Inn.