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Colonial and State Records of North Carolina
Letter from William Christian to Patrick Henry
Christian, William, ca. 1742 - 1786
October 06, 1776
Volume 10, Pages 837-839

[From MS. Records of Virginia.]
Letter from Colonel William Christian, Commander-in-Chief of the Virginia Forces against the Cherokees, to Governor Patrick Henry.

Six Mile Camp, October the 6th, 1776.

Honourable Sir:

I have advanced six miles from Fort Patrick Henry, which Lieutenant Colonel Russell has called the Fort at the Great Island. I will enclose you herewith a return of the Army with me; besides which about 100 men are left at the Fort to Guard the Stores there. Lieutenant Colo Morgan, of Colo Lewis's battalion, is on his march with about 140 men, officers included, but I doubt is too far behind to have any probability of overtaking me. I came to the Island on the 21st of September, since which time several parties of the enemy have been about us; they killed one soldier and one of the Countrymen near the Island and took another prisoner who escaped the second night after he was taken, but was not able to give me any information, more than that the party were twelve in number and making homeward. Several of the country people have also been fired upon and some wounded since I came to Holston. The enemy generally fire from behind logs and bushes, and seldom at a greater distance than eight or ten steps; last Tuesday three of them fired upon two men and broke one of their arms, but they got away.

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Nothing has been done since. I have no intelligence from Brigadier Rutherford since his letter of the 27th of August. I will inclose you both his letters, and my answer to his first. The last I have not answered. If he is an enterprising man he may finish the Campaign before I get to the Indian Towns. The difficulty of marching from the valley Towns to the over hills is not half so great as from Green Bryer to Point Pleasant. I shall march in less than an hour and take with me 30 days' flour and seventy days' Beef. I hope to cross Broad river the 15th instant where it is most likely I shall be attacked, or meet with proposals of peace. The men who have fled from the towns say that the Indians will surely fight desperately, which they promised Stuart the King's superintendent to do, and Cameron his deputy, who remains amongst them, is daily encouraging them to defend their country against a party of Rebels. I heartily wish that they may first attack me, and it is the wish of the army. Cameron being an artful man may invent measures to delay our march if the Indians will execute them with dexterity, but still I have no doubt of returning to the Island in five weeks from this time, six at the farthest. Yesterday I sent four of my scouts to the Towns to endeavour to take a prisoner, that I may know what the enemy are doing, but the attempt being new and the probability of meeting some of them before they can reach the Towns so great, that I have but little hopes of success. I have promised the four men £100 if they succeed. I have also sent another party of scouts, about eighty miles from here and within fifty miles of the towns, to watch the path. If anything new occurs at Broad river I shall send you an Express as speedily as possible. If I am attacked there and my march delayed I must send back to the Island for more flour. Mr Madison the Commissary in chief will write you fully about the Provisions, so that I will not trouble you and the Hon'ble the Council on that head. The people on Holston and Clinch, from ten miles above Stalnakers downwards, are in Forts. The number of souls contained in them, I am told amounts to more than 3000. Their distress is very great. I called at such as are upon the main road, and found many in want of provisions, great numbers sick, and heard of many that had died, occasioned I suppose by their close confinement, and being too much crowded together. I ventured to direct that a few loads of flour should be distributed amongst the wives and widow mothers of those men who are with me, and gave orders to the Commissary to keep an account thereof,
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that the men may be called upon to pay for it, or such other steps taken therein as your Excellency and the Hon'ble Council shall please to direct. In all probability there will be more flour than I shall want for the expedition. It might prevent great distress if your Excellency and the Hon'ble Council would allow some of it to be sold to such of the inhabitants as have lost their crops by the war. Lieut. Colo Russell, who was much disappointed, especially in the County of Fincastle, about getting three hundred men ordered by the Convention, took into the service a great part of the men in the Forts; that step and that alone, prevented the people from starving, or quitting the country altogether. I should have written your Excellency several times since I wrote to his honor the President, but I really did not know well what to say. I could not until within a week past speak with such certainty as I wished to do.

I am Sir your most obedient Humble Servant,