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Colonial and State Records of North Carolina
Letter from Cornelius Harnett to Richard Caswell
Harnett, Cornelius, 1723-1781
October 10, 1777
Volume 11, Pages 647-648

[From Executive Letter Book.]

York Town Pennsylvania Oct. 10th, 1777.


I had the honor of receiving your favour of the second of September, two days ago, and I am surprised you have not received four other of my letters since the 11th of August. I fear there is little dependence on our Post office for the safe conveyance of intelligence. Since mine, soon after the Battle of the Brandywine nothing happened material in the movements of Gen'l Washington's Army, until the 4th Instant when he attacked the Enemy early in the morning. The particulars you have enclosed in an abstract from the General's letter to Congress. Poor General Nash is since dead of his wound, his thigh being shattered by a Cannon Ball, we lost several other brave officers and many wounded, the latter were all brought off the field. The Enemy as appears from a deserter had Gen'l Agnew Col. Bird & Col. Walcot killed, with several other officers. Also Gen'l Sir William Erskine wounded in the head & ancle, it is said mortally. The whole loss of the Enemy by several accounts amount to about 800 killed and wounded.

I forwarded your letter to Capt. Caswell by express. Our President enclosed it in his letter to the Generals. I have not the least doubt of his having come off unhurt. God send it may be so.

It gives me pleasure to hear Col. Sheppard's Battalion is in such forwardness, and hope they may arrive here in time to be serviceable.

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Our affairs to the No'ward wear a very promising aspect, since the late drawn Battle in that Quarter, of which some time ago I gave you information. It is firmly believed Genl Burgoyne must meet with inevitable ruin. It is imagined Genl Washington intends very soon another attack on the Enemy's Army—he has since that of the 4th Instant been reinforced by a large body from Virginia and Peckskiln. I am rejoiced to hear the Tories have been prevented from carrying their infernal plan into execution—I hope decisive measures will be adopted to bring the Ring-leaders to punishment.

Congress have once more began to think of confederation, I could wish to know the sentiments of our General Assembly upon some Capital points. The method of voting by States was yesterday determined, viz, that each State should have one vote, no colony against it but Virginia. The grand point of settling the Quota of Taxes each State is to pay, comes on this afternoon. Three proposals have been made, one to tax by the Poll, another to assess the value of the Lands, and the other to assess property in general. The latter at present I think most equitable, should the Confederation be agreed upon Mr. Penn and myself will embrace the earliest opportunity of transmitting it to your Excellency, to be laid before the General Assembly. The Delegates of the several States are exceedingly anxious to finish this business, many assert that the very Salvation of these States depend upon it; and that none of the European powers will publicly acknowledge them free and independent, until they are confederated. The time of Congress ever since my arrival has been chiefly taken up with army matters.

We have as yet no printing press, or Post Office established here, this will be done in a few days. I shall then have it more in my power to communicate to your Excellency every piece of interesting intelligence which comes to hand, at present I can hardly find time to write a letter, Congress sits from morning 'till night, and Committees 'till 10 & 11 o'clock. In fact I am almost tired of my troublesome office, and heartily wish to be with my family. I have not time to enlarge, but have the honor to be with respect your Excellency's most obdt & very huml Servant,


I beg your Excellency will remember me most respectfully to your Council.