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Colonial and State Records of North Carolina
Letter from William Christian to Griffith Rutherford
Christian, William, ca. 1742 - 1786
August 18, 1776
Volume 10, Pages 751-752

[From MS. Records in Office of Secretary of State.]
Letter from Colonel William Christian, Commander in Chief of the Virginia Forces against the Cherokees, to Genl Griffith Rutherford.

Botetourt County, Virginia,
August 18th, 1776.


The Lieutenant Governor and Council of Virginia, have been pleased to Order me to take the Command of the Forces that are to March against the Overhill Cherokees; therefore your letter of the 5th of this month is this moment delivered to me. On the 15th Instant I wrote a letter to the commanding officer of the three hundred men of your District that are to join me. I also wrote to the Commanding officer of the South Carolina army, The Express I gave the letters to, I am just told has not yet left his own house which is about 25 miles from me on the way to Carolina so that I will send after him and desire him to take this, to you.

It was not, until I received your letter that I understood the Cherokees were to be attacked at three different places; indeed I was doubtful that the way from North Carolina to the Valley Towns was so Mountainous and rugged that it could not be well done that way. But good men can surmount all difficulties, and the Plan is undoubtedly an excellent one.

The letter, the Express has for the Commanding Officer in South Carolina, you will be pleased to open, and send it forward, or not as you may think necessary. I should think that the Express had better return from you to me, as you can no doubt give me any intelligence necessary respecting the South Carolina Army. I shall desire the Express to call on Lieutenant Colonel Williams, as he goes to you from whom I wish to know how soon he can be in Fincastle county.

The number of effective men alloted to be under my command, are 1450 besides those from Your Province. They are now gathering with all possible dispatch and will begin to march in less than two weeks from the different counties in which they are to be raised. I have appointed the General Rendezvous to be held at the Big Island on Holston's river on the 20th day of September. The Island is in the Enemy's country & within 130 miles of the principal Overhill

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Towns. I shall endeavour to march in a day or two after the Rendezvous, and loose no time afterwards, but hurry on as quick as possible. I hope to take with me Fifty days provisions. The flour I will have in Waggons, and will open a Waggon road as I go. When I wrote on the 15th Instant to South Carolina I imagined that It would be betwixt the 10th and 15th of October before I could be at the Towns. But now I conclude I may be there about the 5th. I have no doubt of marching ten miles each day. I know of nothing that can delay me except repeated Skirmishes, or Broad river, its being high.

I am now near the Centre of the Country which will furnish the provisions & men for the Expedition, therefore I shall wait here; if nothing new occurs, about ten days longer and then begin to move towards the place of Rendezvous which is 190 miles from hence; in order to be there Eight or ten days before hand.

After the bearer returns; Should you think it necessary to send to me again in a short time it will be best to direct your messenger to come by Fort Chiswell in Fincastle county, at which place he may be informed where I shall be. Would it not be well for us to keep messengers constantly passing & repassing, as many unforeseen events may happen to either of us; necessary to be known by the other. Will it be possible for you Sir to proceed to the Overhill Towns after you drive off the Valley people, or will the South Carolina Army do it, or is it intended that either shall?

I shall think my self happy in Cooperating with you, or any other of the United States, for the Interest of them, or either of them, And I know that the State whose Servant I have the honour to be, will rejoice at our harmony and unanimity. May We then go on with speed and success to crush our Savage Enemies; and in a short time be ready to turn our Victorious Arms to meet their more than Savage abettors, where ever they may appear to disturb the repose of our American Brethren.

From the last accounts, I have had from the Northward, nothing considerable has happened, but as Genl Howe was in Staten Island with odds of twenty thousand men it is probable that some Manuevre will soon be made by him or General Washington.

I am Sir Your most Obedient
And most humble Servant