Camp Lenerds Ferry May the 6th-8 1780
I am very sorry to inform you that Cols Whites & Baylors regements of Light Dragoons have this Day met with the loss of every horse and I fear the greatest part of their men, two nights agoe they with the remains of Palaskeys legion & Col. Orees horse crosd santee river they about 9 O Clock this morning met with a party of the enemy’s horse consisting of Capt. Quarter Master Sargeant & 12 privates who they took with horses Accoutrements &c., without opposition. They imediately sent an officer to give me notice that I might cover their retreat a cross this ferry, I imediately detach’d 150 men with officers to cross the ferry & get into the rear of the horse to cover their crossing the river, The horse arriv’d on the oposite side of the ferry before the Infantry, Met with forage (& not apprehending that the enemy could be so early in persute) were ordered to feed their horses when done the men fatigu’d were resting themselves. The enemie’s horse rush’d on them before a single horse could be bridled, Cut & hack’d many of the men in a most shocking manner. Some were killd and many made prisoners, While Washington Immersd and many of the officers have escap’d by swiming the river which is little better than being kill’d or taken, I expect many of the men who escap’d the enemy will drown crossing the river[.] Twenty or thirty of the men have come in I hope the loss in men is not so great as I first apprehended; Polaskeys & Orees horse had seperated to cross nine miles below, I expect they are safe tho have not heard from them, This is a bad country & I have every reason to fear a bad people inhabit it.
My men are very fue in number, & all that I apprehend safty from, & what fue militia are in service are unarm’d & I might say unman’d. Those fue of the inhabitants who are disposd to be frindly are scar’d half to death. I have reason to believe that our friends in Charlestown apprehend the loss of that place, by being starv’d out which is said will happen very soon unless a communication is open’d and kept—That I apprehend will not be the case until we are reinfors’d from your army, We want a commanding Officer much Genl Caswell is very young & the Govenor of this state much harras’d.
George town South carolina May the 8th 1780
The late unfortunate affair with the regements of horse tho bad enough is not so bad as was thought; many of the Men and horses that we expected lost are come in. I believe the loss to be about thirty men; (kill’d wounded and mising) & from forty to fifty horses, This with the late surprise at Monks Corner has rendered our Cavilry Unfit for service, & given the Enemy horse a very great superiority. Capt. Hill is a prisoner [with the enemy] and the only officer mising. I am with due respect Your Most Obed. & Hble Servt
DLC: Papers of George Washington.