George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Samuel Huntington, 22 April 1780

Philadelphia 22. April 1780


Enclosed is an Act of Congress of the 21st Instant impowering your Excellency when properly applied to for that Purpose, to authorize an Agent or Commissary of Prisoners appointed by the Enemy to reside in these United States; and with Powers similar to those granted to a like Officer on behalf of the United States and allowed by the Enemy to be exercised within their Lines.

The Extract of a Letter from Genl Lincoln contains the latest Intelligence I have received from Charles Town. I have the honor to be with great respect your Excelly’s huble servt

Sam. Huntington President

DLC: Papers of George Washington.


Extract of a Letter from Genl Lincoln

Dated Charlestown March 24th 1780

The Enemy on the 20th Instant brought their Ships over the Bar, and contrary to our Expectations one of 64 Guns—so that they now have in five fathom Hole the several Vessels mentioned in the enclosed Paper* no. 1: & in Stono near Wappoo Cut they have also by Sail. After it was determined by the Sea Officers and the Pilots that our Ships could not lay so as to command the Entrance of the Bar, or in five fathom Hole out of reach of the Enemy’s Batteries from the Shore, a Line was formed so as to act in Conjunction with Fort Moultrie; but on the Enemys getting over the Bar a Force so superior to what was expected, and with which our Ships could by no means cope, and the Scheme of throwing an Obstruction across the Channel so as to check the Enemy under the Guns of Fort Moultrie having failed and from a Consideration that if the Enemy pass the Fort, and our Ships with a leading Wind and a Flood Tide, it would be impossible for them to get out of the reach of the Enemy’s Guns, or be protected by the Fort—hence they have been obliged to abandon their former Idea of acting in Conjunction with the Fort, and of adopting a New one-viz., running up Cooper River within a Chain we are attempting to throw across it, which will be covered by our Batteries Strengthened by the heavy Cannon and Men from the Ships—if we effect this, we shall keep open a Communication with the Main, through which we can receive our Supplies &c.

I am sorry to inform Congress that we may not expect Genl Woodford for some Days yet. I have received Information from him by Letter dated at Petersburgh the 6th Instant, that he expected his Troops would march the next Day from that Place—By his return he has but seven Hundred and thirty seven fit for Action. At the same Time I received a Letter from Genl Scott in which I learn that he is coming on without his Men for they are not yet clothed.

The earliest reinforcements expected are from North Carolina some of these I think will be here in a few Days. Two thousand have been ordered besides Genl Rutherford has been permitted to come with a number of Volunteers. The Time for which part of the North Carolina Militia engaged to serve is expired, and they leave Camp this Morning—All the remainder excepting about 100, on the 6th of April—whether we shall be able to keep these longer I know not—for the Men say they have been as long from their homes as the others, and it was not their faults that they were not sooner brought over the Line of their own State—after which they were to serve three Months. Every Attempt has been made to keep them—The Governor of this State has offered them a Bounty of 300 Dollars and a suit of Clothes for three Months Service besides 50 Dollars per Month Pay—this Encouragement has induced a Number of them to reinlist.

The Enemy are extending their Works on Ashley River above Wappoo Creek at different Places for about two Miles—they serve to keep our Ships out the River and from there they can reach the Town—the principal Design of them is to cover their grand Deposit of stores which can be brought thro’ Wappoo cut near to the Mouth of that river then carried across Land to a Creek (where they have another Work) which empties into the Ashley opposite Gibbes’s Plantation—about two Miles above our Lines—this Ground they will endeavour to possess and cross their Stores over the River which will save them a long Land Carriage.

The Enemy were yesterday moving up the river, had passed Ashley Ferry 10 Miles from Town without crossing—We have to lament that from the Want of Men, we are denied the Advantages of opposing them with any considerable Force in crossing the river as at least we could oblige them to take a Circuit of forty Miles.

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