George Washington Papers
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To George Washington from Samuel Huntington, 19 March 1780

From Samuel Huntington

Philadelphia March 19. 1780

Sir,

I do myself the honour to transmit your Excellency the enclosed Intelligence No. 11 & No. 22 this Moment received from Charles Town South Carolina. And have the honour to be with the highest respect your Excellency’s hble servt

Sam. Huntington

LS, DLC:GW; LB, DNA:PCC, item 14.

1This enclosure was an extract from Maj. Gen. Benjamin Lincoln’s letter to Huntington written at Charleston, S.C., on 22 Feb.: “Since I did myself the honour to address you on the 14th Instant, the Enemy have crossed Stono Ferry with the Troops they had landed on John’s Island, and taken post in the lines they erected last summer[.] Their reasons for this Movement I cannot ascertain as no other particular Advantage will result from it, than covering the landing of their Cannon and Ordnance Stores which must be afterwards transported 20 Miles and across three navigable rivers, or by a circuitous land Carriage of forty Miles at least, in either of which they will meet with Difficulties first from a Want of proper Boats and Horses; and secondly from the Interuption they will meet in Attacks from our Horse which will be directed to hang on their flanks and harrass them. Little Opposition was made to their crossing Stono ferry, as a small Party could not be supported by the main Body of our Troops, nor a large one detached without risquing an Attack from James Island while our Troops were absent, and an Opposition there might only have put the Enemy on taking post elsewhere with much more Advantage to themselves.

“The uncertain Events of War will not authorise an Assurance of Success but I think if my requisition of 2,000 Militia from the Country is complied with, and Genl Hogan with our other expected Succours arrive in time, we may flatter ourselves with the Probability of an effectual Opposition” (DLC:GW). Lincoln’s full letter to Huntington also includes a brief opening paragraph mentioning a “list of bills” that required payment (DNA:PCC, item 158). Congress read Lincoln’s letter on 20 March and referred the matter of the bills to the Board of Treasury (JCC description begins Worthington Chauncey Ford et al., eds. Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774-1789. 34 vols. Washington, D.C., 1904–37. description ends , 16:269).

2This enclosure, datelined Charleston, 25 Feb., “at Noon,” includes a note at the end of the document: “The Express who brings this Says it is an Extract Taken from the late President Laurens in Charles Town which he Saw Copied off” (DLC:GW). The observations in the document, apparently from Henry Laurens, read: “The British Army said to be under the Command of Sir Henry Clinton are distributed at Johns Island, Port royal Island, Stono ferry, and a Detachment last Night entered upon James Island[.] The Head quarters is at Fenwicks house on Johns Island—four of their Gallies have been seen between Johns and James Island, the number of troops not known, but supposed to be much diminished since the embarkation at New York—About twelve Deserters from Fleet & Army have come into Charlestown and as many prisoners taken by our light Horse—Different Deserters from fleet & Army agree in reporting very heavy losses at sea, three Ships foundered, many dismasted, one brig two Sloops taken and brought into Charlestown, one Brig carried into North Carolina, One of the Deserters informs that thirteen Sail were lost on the rocks of Bermuda. There is undoubtedly some grand Impediment to the Enemys progress, Almost all their Horse perished at sea, and much of their furniture was captured—Three days ago passed by Charlestown Bar in a hard Gale of Wind a 64 Gun Ship, a Frigate and four Transports—these may be going to New York for further Supplies—but all is conjecture—Near the Bar of Charlestown daily appear Frigates and other Ships of War. reconoitring and blocking up the Harbour[.] Within the Harbour of Charlestown we have four Continental Frigates, two french armed Ships, two State Armed Ships, six other Armed Vessels some of them carrying very heavy Cannon.

“The Enemy’s Delay has afforded opportunity of strengthening the Lines of Charlestown which will be in pretty good Order tomorrow. The Number of Men within the lines uncertain, but by far too few to defend Works of near three Miles in Circumference especially considering many of them to be Citizens unaccustomed to the fatigues of a besieged Garrison[.] Reinforcements are expected. Genl Hogan is within a few Miles. The Virginia Troops are somewhere. Assistance from that Sister State has been expected these eighteen Months. Genl Moultrie is forming a Camp at Bacon Bridge where he has about 500 horse Horrys of this State, Baylors and Blands of Virginia.

“Genl Williamson is encamped at Augusta. 1,000 Men are shortly expected from his Brigade. Genl Richardson & Colo. Kershaw are raising the Militia at & about Camden. At this Moment our escape seems to depend on further Delay on the Enemy’s part. Two or three Weeks more will make this Garrison strong. The Inhabitants in general are in good Spirrits. Competent Judges say that Sir Harry will then have cause to repent his enterprize. This affords Encouragement but events in War are uncertain, And if we do not receive assistance the next intelligence may be quite contrary—hasten the Virga Troops if you meet them.” Laurens was at Charleston in late February 1780, waiting for a ship to Europe in order to fulfill his congressional assignment to negotiate a loan with Holland (see Laurens to GW, 24 Oct. 1779, and n.10, and Laurens to the Committee for Foreign Affairs, 24 Feb. 1780, in Laurens Papers description begins Philip M. Hamer et al., eds. The Papers of Henry Laurens. 16 vols. Columbia, S.C., 1968–2003. description ends , 15:236–38).

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