Benedict Arnold, with the British troops, had entered the Chesapeake in
January, 1781, and sailed up the James River. He captured Richmond, the
capital, then a town of less than two thousand people, and destroyed
everything upon which he could lay his hands.
Jefferson summoned the militia, who came by thousands to oppose the traitor.
Arnold, however, sailed down to Portsmouth and escaped.
Jefferson then urged upon General Muhlenburg the importance of picking out a
few of the best men in his command "to seize and bring off the greatest of
"I will undertake," he said, "if they are successful in bringing him off
alive, that they shall receive five thousand guineas reward among them."