George Washington Papers

From George Washington to Major General Nathanael Greene, 2 January 1781

To Major General Nathanael Greene

Head Quarters New Windsor 2d Jany 1781.

Dear Sir

Since my last,1 I have gained information, thro’ the Channel upon which I most depend, that the embarkation which sailed from New York the 20th of last month, consisted of about sixteen hundred Men, chiefly detachments from the British—German and new Corps. I hear of no intire Corps but the Queens Rangers. Arnold commands.2

We have various reports, thro’ the New York papers and our own, of an affair between General Sumpter and Tarleton. The printers on both sides make it a victory.3

I wish you many and happy New Years and am with very great Regard Dear Sir Yr most obt Servt

Go: Washington

P.S. Within these few days I have heard (by Mr Otis of Boston) that Mrs Greene & your Childn were well. this Gentn saw her in his way hither—& to Phila.4

LS, in Tench Tilghman’s writing, NNGL; Df, DLC:GW; Varick transcript, DLC:GW. GW wrote the postscript, which appears only on the LS.

1GW last wrote Greene on 28 Dec. 1780, found at GW to Thomas Johnson, 28 Dec., n.1. For his last update on intelligence received, see GW to Greene, 27 December.

2GW received this intelligence from the Culper ring (see GW to Alexander Hamilton, 29 Dec., n.5). For the expedition under the command of British brigadier general Benedict Arnold destined for Chesapeake Bay, see GW to Samuel Huntington, 27 Dec., n.2.

3GW refers to the engagement at Blackstocks, S.C., on 20 Nov. between the corps of South Carolina brigadier general Thomas Sumter and British lieutenant colonel Banastre Tarleton. In sharp fighting, the two corps battled to a draw. For more details, see Greene to GW, 7 Dec., n.12; see also Charles S. Myddelton to Greene, 20 Nov., 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 , 6:498–99.

The Pennsylvania Packet or the General Advertiser (Philadelphia) for 30 Dec. quoted a letter from one of Sumter’s officers, who reported that after the fighting, Tarleton’s troops “quit the field in disorder and retired with the utmost precipitation.” He stated Tarleton’s casualties as 92 dead and 100 wounded left on the field, and he gave Sumter’s “very inconsiderable” losses as “3 killed and 4 wounded.” The Royal Gazette (New York) for 20 Dec. reported that Sumter’s greatly superior force “of one thousand men” was “totally defeated and dispersed” and gave the British casualties as only “50 killed and wounded.”

4For the intention of Samuel Allyne Otis to stop at GW’s headquarters, see Otis & Henley to GW, 6 Dec., found at James Wilkinson to GW, 7 Nov., n.2.

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