George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Samuel Huntington, 14 October 1780

Philadelphia Octor 14th 1780

Sir

By the enclosd Copy of our act of Congress of the 13th instant, your Excellency will be informed of the promotion of Col. Morgan to the rank of Brigadier.

From the representation respecting the Situation & Circumstances of affairs to the Southward this measure was thought in a degree indispensible I hope it may be attended with happy Consequences.

The enclosd Copies of dispatches from Govr Jefferson & Gen. Gates from No. 1—to No. 9 will give your Excellency the latest intelligence we have receivd from the Southern department.

I have been honourd with your obliging letter of the 7th instant with the important dispatches to which it refers, the proceedings relative to Majr Andrée are Ordered to be published under the care of Judicious persons to inspect the press. I have the honour to be with the highest Esteem & Respect your Excellencys humle Servt

Sam. Huntington President

DLC: Papers of George Washington.

Enclosure

No. 1

Hillsborough 5th Octor 1780

Sir,

My letter which goes by this conveyance to Govr Jefferson, and the papers inclosed therein, will inform your Excellency of the present State of affairs here—To the last degree anxious for the recovery of the Southern States; I impatiently hope for the Arrival of a naval and Land, Armament of our Allies upon the coast of South-Carolina—as they might instantly strike a stroke at Charles Town, that would decide the war in this department. Lord Cornwallis is 200 miles from his principal post—which he must risque every thing to save when attacked—what an important moment therefore, is this; for the Allied Arms of France and America to make the best use of—I am confident the Eyes of Congress, and the Commander in Chief will be attentively directed to Sir Harry Clinton; for should he, as he did last year, direct his Winter Operations this way, and be in all respects superior in land, & naval force, to the United States; what fatal consequences may not be apprehended, from his attempts—By my instructions to Brigadier Genl Smallwood—Congress will perceive, that until I am properly reinforced, I have determined only to harrass, and delay the Enemy; for this purpose a Light Corps, is selecting for Col. Morgan; consisting of Continental Cavalry; Hunters mounted with Rifles, and light foot, as well Continentals, as militia chosen for the purpose—with these I hope to retard, and confine Lord Cornwallis’s Army, until I am in strength to play a different Game. This urges me again to repeat my request, that Congress will appoint Colonel Morgan a Brigadier General, not only as his services entitle him to it; but as it will give him a weight, and consequence with the militia, that is just now absolutely necessary.

By intelligence this morning received from certain Tory Officers taken from the Enemy near Charlotte, we are informed that Lord Cornwallis has received a reinforcement of one thousand regulars at that post, which they say came from New York. I am Sir your Excellancy’s most Obedient Humble Servant

Horatio Gates

Enclosure

No. 2

Hillsborough 3d Octr 1780.

Sir

You will immediately proceed to the Ford upon the Yadkin where you are to take command of all the troops, as well Continentals, as Militia, at present stationed in the Counties of Burke Mechlenburg, Rowan and Guildford; an Escort commanded by Col. Morgan will attend you and the Continental Cavalry will follow you with the utmost expectations—Upon your arrival at the Ford upon the Yadkin you will take the strongest position for the Encampment of the main body of your troops; and be particularly careful to secure your flanks, front & rear, by redoubts, abbattis, or some natural obstructions from the assault the Enemy’s Cavalry—I must desire you to acquaint me frequently as events render it necessary with your situation, wants & all extraordinary occurrences—I shall be constantly employed in equipping & preparing the troops here, and expected here for the field; and shall the moment you see it absolutely necessary march with all that can be put in motion to join you—as I wish the Enemy’s lines to be circumscribed and their range into the Country stopped; I request you will employ Col. Morgan with all the rifle men, Cavalry and light troops, to effect that desirable purpose—The great reinforcements that are coming forward and the powerful assistance, both by land and sea; that we daily expect from our Allies, are objects that will weigh with you as well as they do with me; and influence your conduct so as that the defensive war may at present be principally attended to—but in this, circumstances must and will govern and therefore I give you such discretionary powers as your Judgement, Experience and thorough knowledge of our Affairs renders necessary—when you detach Col. Morgan upon the particular services here mentioned you will be careful that there is no Officer of the party, who can by any military pretence dispute the command with him—You know that Gallant Officer’s services and Experience and how superior his talents must be, to those of this rank among the Troops under your command—as the army in this State are only fed from hand to mouth and have never had a magazine of provisions to depend upon, it is very difficult for me to instruct you on that head—I am well aware how precarious the Defence of any post must be, unless the supply of provisions is fixed and certain—at any rate you must not for the want of a Magazine risque the loss of the main body of the troops under your command; therefore as I have already said circumstances and your own military knowledge & Experience must upon this as well as other critical occasions be your guide. William Pendergast C. Genl purchases is ordered to send two of his assistants to the Yadkin to be under your orders—On the 15th of August last Col. Polk of Charlotte received my bills for £200.000 lawful money to purchase flour &c. for the army; he should be considered as a person to assist in furnishing your Troops—The district of Country on both sides of the Yadkin and the Moravin settlement will I conceive be able to furnish a considerable quantity of provisions, but you will endeavour all in your power to get your first supplies from the country between your lines & the Enemy. As my letters from Congress declare that the southern Army will speedily be augmented, to 15.000 men consisting of his most christian majesty’s Troops, Continentals and militia you are to hold all those now placed under your command in readiness to march to join me in the rout to Charles Town as you shall be directed by my future Instructions. Before I close these I must beg your particular attention to the Enemy’s Right wing and be careful they do not without your knowing it make a rapid march to Cross creek; should that movement take place you will give me Instant notice and prepare to march—sincerely wishing you honor & success, I am, Sir, your affectionate Humble servant

Horatio Gates

Enclosure

No. 3

Hillsborough 5th Octor 1780

Sir,

Since writing my last letter to your Excellency I have received the inclosed from Genl Sumner, whose Camp is at [Macgoerns] Creek one mile from the ford of the Yadkin. I send my letter to the president of Congress under a flying seal that you may peruse it—I beg that with all the Letters and papers, I now send your Excellency may be as soon as possible dispatched to Congress. I am Sir Your Obedient humble Servt

Horatio Gates

P.S. The inclosed Letter from Lt Colo. Washington, will acquaint you with all the Continental & Cavalry of your State we have to depend upon.

Enclosure

No. 4

Camp at McCassings Creek 24th Septr 1780

Sir,

I received your Letter of the 19th yesterday I immediately march’d from Salisbury upon receipt of his Excellency’s letter, finding it necessary from the requisition of the inhabitants, my utmost efforts being employed in getting fixed the Guns &c. of which there was a third out of order, the draft horses and Light horses a large number of which very much wanting shoes to get them on—I arrived in this camp the 21st in the evening General Davidson informed me his Minute Men, of which his force was chiefly, were upon leaving the camp Colo. [Lock] who had been sent to collect the draft and Minute Men from Rowan County; the drafts were to have joined this camp, the Minute Men under his command were to take post at Sherell’s ford on Catawba river; he had contrary to his instructions ordered both drafts and Minute Men to Sherell’s ford. Colo. Armstrong of Surry County who, I am informed had orders to join this camp with the force raised from that County has taken a different rout to join the forces collecting to oppose Ferguson, who from the best Intelligence we have received, is in the neighbourhood of Burk County Court house with a large number of the disaffected and some british troops—Genl Sumpter is with his force on the ford leading to the Catawba nation about 7 or 10 miles from one White’s Mill; the British force is at or near this mill, I understand; Commanded by Trumbull, others say, by Lord Rawden with 150 or 200 british and two battalions of the disaffected closed the whole 700—Genl Sumpter judges he could drive them from thence, with as many more men as he has with him which I believe is about 300; Lord Cornwallis is yet at the Waxhaw’s Creek with 6 or 700 british troops and 3 or 400 Tories most on horse with 70 or 80 dragoons they lye close and as far as I can gain intelligence expects reinforcements of british troops—two three pounders and 80 or 90 Waggons; that the provisions they collect are generally used in Camp, as we have had no accounts of any being sent to Cambden from the Waxhaws—We have a party of horse stationed on this road who reconnoiters as far as the twelve miles Creek, also a piquet some better than a mile from Camp, a detached party from them in front on the road Westward about 7 miles across we have a party of horse; this road forks within five miles of the British Camp, passes thro’ the Catawba nation to Charlotte, which road, Sir, I do judge the Enemy would march on, should they move in force towards Charlotte: I inclined to move this camp on that road and had consulted Genl Davidson, and collected the field officers, when Genl Davidson received a letter from Mr [Penn] one of the board of war, informing him of General Smallwood’s appointment, and set out for Camp; We judged he would be in camp to day, therefore deferred receiving the General sense of the Chief Officers on the moving of the Camp; Other guards and piquets we have fixed for the security of the Camp—a Captain and about 50 is stationed at Sawers to the South eastward, I understand, about 15 miles; I believe it consists of men of that neighbourhood—Colo. Davie of the Horse returned from reconnoitring with 40 Horse and 60 riflemen the 22d he fell in with a party of Tories supposed about 130 surprized them, kill’d 14 and took two prisoners and 46 horses, saddles, &c, the others dispursed with the greatest precipitation, his party received no damage except one wounded—I am just sending off a party of 140 infantry and 20 horse under the command of Colo. Sewell, as far as the 12 mile Creek, to view the road that forks near that Creek and makes thro’ the waste Lands of the Indians and gither such intelligence as may be in his power; ’tis the road I before mentioned to you, of apprehension the Enemy would chuse to penetrate on should they move in force, I send you here inclosed a general return of the division, and will not fail writing to you on every material occurrences. I am Sir with the highest esteem your most Obedt Servt

Jethro Sumner

P.S. Tho’ I have ordered returns to be made since yesterday, they only came to hand just now, and in Such bad order that its impossible for the Brigade Major to make his General return by them and consequently am obliged to defer sending it to you by this Express.

J.S.

Enclosure

No. 5

Captain Phifers 26th Septr 1780.

Sir,

This day at 11 O’Clock the enemy marched into Charlotte in force according to the best information Colo. Davie skirmished with them at that Place, and for several hours since retreating as pr Express. About two he was reinforced by about 300 Cavalry & infantry but no intelligence since they joined him, he is directed to continue skirmishing with them to cover our retreat—The inhabitants are flying before us in consternation, and except we are soon reinforced, the West side of the Yadkin must inevitably fall a prey to the enemy—Rowan is able to give us very little assistance, on account of Colo. Fergusons movements to the westward. Sir I have the honor to be your most Obedient and humble Servant

Wm Davidson B. Genl

P.S. Genl Sumner desires me to give you this information.

Enclosure

No. 6

Camp at the Yadkin ford Septr 29th 1780

Sir,

Since Genl Davidson wrote to you at my request from Phyfers the enemy continue in Charlotte about 2,000 strong, some enlarge their number to 3,000; on my retreat I endeavoured to bring off all the public stores there I could get any knowledge of & effected it. I have detached Colo. Davie of the light horse & Colo. Taylor with 200 horse to Phyfer’s mill & in the vicinity to remain, & from thence to reconnoitre & if possible to prevent the enemy’s plundering the inhabitants, & to gain what intelligence they could of their strength & designs & to communicate them immediately to me; I had an intention of detaching 250 infantry from the division, as a support to the horse, but those gentlemen advised to defer this party until they had felt their intention for fighting by parties; this party of horse I am persuaded will be joined by a larger number from the country as they are very desirous to drive the enemy from thence—My information from Charlotte assures me that the enemy had 22 killed by our party, the day they took possession of Charlotte, & a larger number wounded: Several other small parties have been fired on, & a few killed on both sides—I every hour expect to hear from Colo. Davie & Taylor—There is near 200 of the soldier which compose this brigade who claim discharges, of Colo. Jarvis’s and Colo. Exum’s regiments; I wish Sir, to have some orders on this matter, being not acquainted with the resolves of the Assembly respecting the militia—I shall continue to give you every matter of intelligence which I may get of the enemy’s movements &c. that may be in my power. I am Sir your obedt Servt

Jethro Sumner

P.S. This moment by express from Colo. Bravard who was sent with a party of horse to gain intelligences from the westward, I am informed that Colo. Ferguson, is at Burke Court house, which seems to indicate an intention of forming a junction with Lord Cornwallis. Here inclosed is an examination of 4 British prisoners taken at Charlotte.

J.S.

Enclosure

No. 7

Hillsborough 3d Octr 1780.

Sir,

I have the honor to inclose to your excellency, three letters lately received from Genls Sumner & Davidson commanding the North Carolina militia to the westward. Contrary to my express orders Colo. Polk, commissary at Charlotte collected fifteen hundred or two thousand bushels of grain, into Gris mill there; a bait, I knew the enemy would catch at; and repeatedly cautioned him against it, directing him, never to have more than two days allowance for the troops there, and in the vicinity, and to have no fixed magazine, but collect his grain at different farms, west, East & North at twenty miles distance from Charlotte the common center; but the blot is now hit & we must act for the best in the present circumstances—Genl Smallwood, and Colo. Morgan will march this day with two hundred continental light infantry to the ford upon the Yadkin, to form a strong camp there; and by skirmishing with the light troops to be put under Colo. Morgan, circumscribe the enemies lines and protect the surrounding country, should the enemy advance in force from Charlotte and endeavour to pass the ford upon the Yadkin, I shall then march with all the troops I can collect to sustain Genl Smallwood. I expect allof the continental cavalry and Major Nelsons corps, fit for service, will be here in two or three days they will march directly from hence to the Yadkin—I cannot think Lord Cornwallis will march further from Charles Town, unless he is confident that town & his Communication therewith, will be secured by reinforcements from Sir Henry Clinton—This is a Bon Moment, for a squadron of our Allies, to make their appearance at Charles Town—In that case I think it would be easy to carry the place before the Earl could arrive to save it—but without a naval Armament nothing can be done there—as things stand at present, I must request your Excellency to press forward to Hillsborough the supplies of men, provisions, carriages & stores so necessary & so much in request here. I am Sir your Excellency’s most obedient humble Servant.

Enclosure

No. 8

Camp McGoon’s Creek Octor 1st 1780

Sir,

By Capt Lock I received a letter informing me of Colo. Dickerson, who was on the Enemy’s lines yesterday and discovered 800, of them upon their march, three miles in Advance from Charlotte, with two field pieces of Cannon, on the road leading to Betys ford on Catawba river, about 9 O’Clock in the morning—This detachment is probably intended to support Major Ferguson, who we are informed is in the neighbourhood of Burk Court house, and to Act against Colo. Lock, Cleveland, McDowell and Armstrong—We have some accounts of the Enemys being reinforced with two regiments from New York others say 1000 men, this intelligence is taken from prisoners, also that they brought with them to Charlotte about Eighty Waggons, and 70, or 80 Hogsheads of rum, that it was given out, they were to march in ten days for Newbern, that they were building brush Hutts, their Lines were circumscribed close in the town, and the roll called very often in the day, that their Liquors were stored. I am Sir yours &C

Jethro Sumner

Enclosure

No. 9

Colo. Eatons Octr 4th 1780

Sir

In consequence of your Excellency’s orders to Genl Huger I marched from Colo. Hawkins’s yesterday, with all the men from the 1st & 3rd regiment of Dragoons & Nelsons corps that were deemed fit for service, consisting of 82 privates 6 Serjeants & two trumpeters. We expect to be in Hillsborough on Friday. I have sent forward Corporal Graves to provide forage against our arrival, and ordered him to wait on your excellency for an order on the Quarter Master to procure 100 Setts of Horse shoes well knowing that it will be impracticable to march thro’ the back parts of this State without them most of our horse being at present unshod. I have the honor to be your excellency’s Obedt Servant

W. Washington

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