Sale 1090 — United States, Possessions and Confederate States Stamps and Postal History
Sale Date — Wednesday-Friday, 17-19 December, 2014
Category — Colonial Period
VERY FINE. AN OUTSTANDING COLONIAL TRANSATLANTIC LETTER RECEIVED IN VIRGINIA AT THE BEGINNING OF THE REVOLUTIONARY WAR. THE PRESENCE OF THE RARE NORFOLK AND WILLIAMSBURG POSTMARKS ON THE SAME COVER IS EXTRAORDINARY.
This letter is addressed to Burgess Ball (1749-1800), a landowner in Lancaster County, Virginia. The Ball estate, located near Fredericksburg, was known as "Travellers' Rest." At the start of the war, Ball was a volunteer aide-de-camp on the staff of his life-long friend and correspondent, General George Washington. Seeking an active battlefield role, Ball entered the Continental Army in February 1776 as a captain and rose to the rank of colonel. He was present at several of the war's most significant battles.
This letter was written from London as events in America were unfolding. The writer states "The Inhabitants of New England are declared Rebels -- a few days ago there was a joint address carried to the King from the Lords & Commons to Enforce the Laws against them. The King in his answer has thanked them for their affection & spirit and is determined to maintain the supremacy.”
This letter reached Norfolk and Williamsburg shortly after the "Gunpowder Incident," in which Williamsburg Royal governor Lord Dunsmore seized gunpowder from the magazine in Williamsburg, provoking a confrontation with the local militia under the command of Patrick Henry.