George Washington Papers

From George Washington to Henry Clinton, 16 October 1780

Head Quarters Octor 16th 1780


I have received your two letters of the 9th and 13th.

On the same principle upon which that of the 9th is founded, it has been my endeavour to conduct the correspondence between us on the terms which politeness and the nature of the intercourse demanded. In the affair to which you allude, I persuade myself all the attentions were observed, which the peculiarity of the circumstances would justify.

In my letter of the 6th Ulto I barely made an inquiry about the persons who are the subject of it: I stated no particular report much less the one you mention of a supposed plot for the destruction of Charles Town, which I cannot but believe will on investigation appear as ill founded, as it does to me in the present situation of things, improbable. I wish I could agree in opinion with you on the spirit which actuates your Officers in Southern command; but, I must conceive the inclosed intercepted letters of Lord Cornwallis and Lord Rawdon breathe a very different temper. They not only profess a flagrant breach of the capitulation of Charles Town and a violation of the laws of nations; but under whatever forced description the unhappy objects of the severity are placed it is in a form and carried to an extreme at which humanity revolts. I flatter myself you will interpose your authority and influence to prevent a prosecution of measures, which cannot fail to aggravate the rigors of War and involve the most disagreeable consequences.

Major General Phillips in his letter in consequence of your orders proposes an interview between himself and General Lincoln or some other Officer for the settlement of the intended exchanges, but as the business is I apprehend too simple and too desireable on both sides to admit of difficulty, I think the meeting of the Commissaries will answer every purpose—I shall extend the instructions given to mine to your last proposition in favour of Major Generals Phillips and Reidesel with their families. I am Sir Your Most Obedient humble servant

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PRO: Carlton Papers.

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