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Colonial and State Records of North Carolina
Letter from Cornelius Harnett to Thomas Burke
Harnett, Cornelius, 1723-1781
November 13, 1777
Volume 11, Pages 677-679

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[From Executive Letter Book.]

York, Pennsylvania Nov. 13th 1777.

Dear Sir:—

The child, Congress, has been big with, these two years past, is at last brought forth—(Confederation)—I fear it will by several Legislatures be thought a little deformed,—you will think it a Monster. I wish, however some kind of Confederation would take place. Some carry their idea of this matter so far, as to believe our affairs must be ruined without it. Be this as it may, it will in a few days be sent to the Legislatures of the several States. Nothing more has been done worth your notice. Our time has been chiefly employed in army matters and God knows we have had perplexity enough.

Gen. Washington's head quarters are at White Marsh a few miles from German Town and the Picketts of each army are very near together. We are informed of a large reinforcement detached from Gen. Gates' army on their way to join the main army, and every body hopes a good account will still be given of Sir William. You left us dissatisfied, but when you hear that we still have the command of the River,—Burgoyne's whole army surrendered,—the noble defence made at Redbank, Fort Mifflin, &c., you will I hope entertain an opinion that our armies must conquer, whenever they appear, notwithstanding, the few checks, perhaps necessary ones, they have lately met with.

We have an account of thirty Transports sailing from New York, supposed to be bringing a reinforcement of troops to Gen. Howe. They are not as yet arrived in the Delaware.

I think as soon as our main army receives the reinforcements expected, I should expect to hear of a vigorous attack upon the enemy, but I am no General.

At the battle of Germantown, I am informed, Col. Martin has again been so unfortunate as to meet with censure. He has been tried by a Court Martial and acquitted as I hear. Since the death of our worthy and brave Nash, I have received a letter from Col. Sumner showing the necessity of having a Brigadier appointed. What can your Delegates do in this case. For God's sake, endeavour to get our assembly to nominate the gentleman they would choose. I am told by several officers that should Col. Martin

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be appointed, many resignations would take place, as several of the Colonels &c, are much dissatisfied with his conduct.

Col. Sumner is I believe next in rank; a worthy man. Our Brigade will as soon as Col. Shephard is at camp, be a very respectable one, consisting of two thousand, rank and file. I hope to see some one or more of my countrymen at the head of them and hope they may be esteemed in camp and out of it, as our worthy deceased friend was.

The sooner one or more Gen. Officers are appointed, the better. Indeed we have a right to the appointment of Major General for our State should it be thought neccessary.

Pray let me have your opinion freely and dispassionately on the articles of confederation.

The mode of settling the Quota of each State towards defraying the general expense, has taken up much time. Some States were for the valuation of all the property in each State. Others, for fixing it by the number of Inhabitants.–Others on the valuation of land. This last seemed to come as near the mark as any, except a valuation of all property. However the Value of lands has taken place much against the desire of the Delegates from the Eastern States.

As I expect you will be directed to return immediately after the using of our assembly, I hope you will take care to be properly instructed in every measure they may wish to accomplish.

You ought to be here. No State should have a less number of Delegates than three present in Congress and I hope our State will attend constantly to that rule.

I have a great inclination to return home, and wish in future to be excused from this kind of service.

Between you and I, we shall be ruined in it, and I wish to make way for some Gent. who values his honor in this way more than I do.

I have not time to say one word more, than to desire that you will make my compliments to all my friends in Assembly.

I wrote to Mr. Hooper and Maclain a few days ago, and shall write to them again very soon. No post or press as yet established here, and when I meet with an opportunity of writing to my friends,

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I am obliged to do it, in such a hurry, that I hardly know what I write.

Believe me to be with unfeigned esteem, Dear Sir,
Your affec. and obe't Serv't

P. S. Our very worthy friend Mrs. Trist is well at Lancaster. I have just now received a line from her. I forwarded a letter from her to you about a fortnight ago, which I hope you have received.