George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Abner Nash, 14 December 1780

From Abner Nash

Newbern [N.C.] December 14. 1780


I have just had the honour to receive your Excellencys favour of the 6th ult.1—your favours by Majr General Green I did myself the honour to answer some time ago & expressed how much the Southern States were indebted to you for your attention Shewn to their interests in the appointmt of that Genl to the Command here & have no doubt he will effect every advantage for us that we may enable him to do,2 at the same time must observe that provision hitherto made by the Assembly of this State in particular for the Support of an Army is So inadequate & the steps taken with regard to the Currency & other matters of the greatest consequence so void of policy, that I fear much distress must yet be induced before we shall become Sufficiently Wise for our own interests—the resolutions of Congress for filling up our Continental Batalions I have repeatedly & in the most pressing manner recomende⟨d⟩ to their attention & have had the mortification as yet to find nothing effectual done I hope your Excelle⟨ncy’s⟩ Letter to me on this Subject, wch I shall have the Hono⟨r⟩ of Laying before them in a few days, will move ⟨the⟩ Assembly to do something Suitable to their rank as a Sovereign State, & indeed absolutely necessary to their political Existence;3 of all their Acts respecti⟨ng⟩ the great object of defence I shall not fail to acquain⟨t⟩ Yr Excellency as soon as I am afforded an opportunity.4

Since the affair of Fergusons defeat wch did the high⟨est⟩ honour to the Militia concerned in it,5 I hear the Note⟨d⟩ Col. Tarleton has been defeated by another party of Militia under the Comd of Genl Sumpter—the Board of War writes me that in this Action the British lost 90 Men killed & 70 taken prisoners & that Tarleton himself was wounded in two places thro the Body & his Thigh broken, I have had the same accts from Gent[lem]en in different parts of the Country but having it not from Camp I dare not give it as Fact tho I much believe it6—I have not heard a word of the Enemy landed in Virga Since they left that Country—immediately on their departure I sent express to Genl Smallwood, to put him on his Guard7—The Enemy have not been intirely free of trouble off Charlestown & on the Coast in that quarter during this Summer. they have suffered very considerably by our privateers, particularly by open River Boats, these Boats with forty or fifty men on Board take almost every thing that comes in their way, two who went in Company returned here this week after a Cruse of about 20 days in wch time they took & sent in 12 Valuable prizes—besides burning I think 4 they also did another important service they landed in Georgia and took off a Mr Young the richest Man & greatest Tory in that Country except the Govr8 they also brought off a considerable number of his Negros—This Mr Young is now a prisoner here the Action is exclaimed against by Some Moderate Men however as it is exactly in the line of retaliation I shall not fail to encourage it unless I should be overruled9—There has been lately a second transportation of Charles Town Citizens to Augustine among these is Mr Middleton the younger,10 ev⟨en⟩ The Ladies do not escape their Vengeance—Mr⟨s⟩ Kinloch & Mrs Ben. Huger have written to me of their distresses—for the offence of permitting Mr Pendleton, who escaped from Charles Town, to Stay a Night in their House, they have been taken from their plantation at wacamaws & carried prisoners to Chas Town where they are now confined & reduced from a State of the greatest affluence to wa⟨nt⟩ & to imbitter the condition of Mrs Huger (the lady of Majr Huger who fell in the Siege of Charles Town,) She has lost two of her Small children since She was seperated from them, probably for want of care, but what I have mentioned a⟨re⟩ trifles compared to their daily enormities;11 I shall on all occasions think myself highly honoured in hearing from your Excellency & shall not fail from time to time giving y⟨ou⟩ such intelligence as I shall think it necessary for our Comm⟨an⟩der in Chief to know. And am with the highest respect & Esteem sir Your Excellencys Most obedt and very Hble Servant

A: Nash

I beg yr Excellency to forward the inclosed Letter to Genl Howe.12



2Nash refers to letters of introduction given to Maj. Gen. Nathanael Greene (see GW to William Fitzhugh, 22 Oct., and n.1 to that document). Nash’s reply to GW has not been found, but see Nash to Greene, 6 Dec., in Greene Papers description begins Richard K. Showman et al., eds. The Papers of General Nathanael Greene. 13 vols. Chapel Hill, N.C., 1976–2005. description ends , 6:538.

4Nash reported the passage of legislation to fill North Carolina’s Continental army regiments when he wrote GW on 19 March 1781 (DLC:GW).

5Nash refers to the Battle of Kings Mountain (see General Orders, 27 Oct. 1780, and n.2 to that document).

6Nash describes the defeat of a detachment under British major James Wemyss (see Samuel Huntington to GW, 4 Dec., n.3).

7Nash’s letter to Maj. Gen. William Smallwood has not been identified. For the movements of the British expedition under Maj. Gen. Alexander Leslie, see Greene to GW, 31 Oct., n.4.

8Nash alludes to James Wright.

9The privateers apparently had captured Thomas Younge (see Sabine, Loyalists description begins Lorenzo Sabine. Biographical Sketches of Loyalists of the American Revolution. 2 vols. 1864. Reprint. Baltimore, 1979. description ends , 2:465).

10Nash refers to Arthur Middleton. South Carolina delegate Thomas Bee wrote Connecticut delegate Benjamin Huntington from Philadelphia on 26 Dec. about the British having “lately taken up Thirty more of the principal Inhabitants” of the state “to be sent to St. Augustine, without the Shadow of a charge against them except the Influence they may have on the other Inhabitants” to support American independence (Smith, Letters of Delegates description begins Paul H. Smith et al., eds. Letters of Delegates to Congress, 1774–1789. 26 vols. Washington, D.C., 1976–2000. description ends , 16:499; see also Document XV, n.4, with Major John André’s Capture and Execution, 23 Sept.–7 Oct., editorial note).

11The letter or letters to Nash from Anne Isabella Kinloch and Mary Esther Huger have not been identified. Henry Pendleton had broken his parole after being captured at Charleston and gone to Philadelphia to seek financial assistance for South Carolina (see James Madison to Edmund Pendleton, 10 Oct., in Smith, Letters of Delegates description begins Paul H. Smith et al., eds. Letters of Delegates to Congress, 1774–1789. 26 vols. Washington, D.C., 1976–2000. description ends , 16:187–88).

Anne Isabella Kinloch (1735–1802), then a widow, was the mother of South Carolina delegate Francis Kinloch and Mary Esther Huger.

Benjamin Huger (1746–1779) served as lieutenant in the 4th South Carolina Artillery Regiment before promotion to major in the 5th South Carolina Regiment in September 1776. He was killed during the British advance on Charleston in May 1779.

Mary Esther Huger (1752–1822), a daughter of Anne Isabella Kinloch, married in December 1772 and was the mother of at least four children.

Henry Pendleton (1750–1788 or 1789), nephew of the prominent Virginia legislator Edmund Pendleton, was an active patriot in Virginia prior to moving to South Carolina, where he became a judge. Major General Chastellux, who met Pendleton in Philadelphia on 30 Nov. 1780, praised him for “the courage to hang three Tories at Charleston, a few days before the surrender of the town,” an act that endangered “his life, had he not escaped out of the hands of the English” (Chastellux, Travels in North America description begins Marquis de Chastellux. Travels in North America in the Years 1780, 1781 and 1782. Translated and edited by Howard C. Rice, Jr. 2 vols. Chapel Hill, N.C., 1963. description ends , 1:131).

12The enclosure for Maj. Gen. Robert Howe has not been identified.

GW replied to Nash on 23 Jan. 1781 (DLC:GW).

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