Reports of Howe's assault on the central colonies. Carter Braxton discusses the sale and shipment of salt, pork, and tobacco; he asks his unnamed recipient to look after his affairs at the head of the Elk River. The Head of Elk was of strategic importance for both the British and the Americans as it was the closest point for Patriot forces in the central colonies to debark for travel down the Chesapeake. It was also the closest point in Chesapeake Bay for the British to direct amphibious operations against Philadelphia. In late July 1777, a 265-ship armada carrying 17,000 troops under General Howe's command finally arrived at the Head of Elk.
"Our Cape is so totally blocked up & so many Vessels taken that all trade seems expiring fast & the want of real necessaries in the Fall will be too great I fear to be endured," writes Braxton. "Mr Morris and myself have suffered severely in some late Losses & have now several Vessells that cannot get out tho loaded & ready for sea." The great fortune that Braxton had inherited from his father's prosperous tobacco plantation he risked in extensive commercial enterprises. During the war, just about every shipping vessel in which he held an interest was either sunk or captured by the British. He fell deep into debt and was forced to sell off his estate in 1786, moving to a rowhouse in Richmond.
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