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Colonial and State Records of North Carolina
Letter from Robert Howe to John Hancock
Howe, Robert, 1732-1786
February 26, 1777
Volume 11, Pages 707-709

[Letter Genls. Sullivan & Howe No. 160. P. 348.]

Charles Town 26th February 1777.


General Moore, who left this State the 8th Instant, gave you, I doubt not, a detail of Circumstances down to that time. Since that he has ordered the Brigade which he brought from North

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Carolina to return. When they march, this Country will be left with no Troops but those incomplete Battalions which immediately belong to it, and which, by the returns I had the honour some time to transmit, will appear by no means equal to the defence of this place.

In my Letter to the Publick of this Country, a copy of which you have, I endeavoured to point out some of those Circumstances which I thought made the defence of it of capital importance to the common cause, and also what must one time or other make it an Object of attention to the Enemy. The nature of its Coast, so favorable to the approach of small Vessels, yet so dangerous to Men of War, the variety of Ports at which trading Vessels have such a number of chances to get in, the means of Traffic which its produce affords and the spirit of pursuing it which actuates the People, must make it (indeed has already made it) a place of amazing Trade, and a Mart from which sister states not so happily situated, have been, and will be under the necessity of obtaining supplies. These are Advantages so very beneficial to our Cause, and so highly injurious to that of the Enemy, that they must see the necessity of depriving us of them, if possible, which cannot effectually be done but by taking possession of Charles Town, and whenever they think proper to attempt this their Attack will probably be formidable and sudden; all aid therefore which is to be sent for may arrive too late, and make it requisite to keep constantly a respectable Body of regular Troops in this State, not less, in my humble Opinion, than Seven or Eight Thousand Men, nor will that number, I am persuaded, be thought too many, when we consider how various and extensive the necessary lines of defence are, how numerous the black Domesticks who would undoubtedly flock in multitudes to the Banners of the Enemy whenever an opportunity offered, how uncertain at any time, and at present how unfavorable the disposition of the Indian Tribes on the back of this State and that of Georgia, who, if they fell upon the Country in that Quarter at the same time that an attack was made upon the Sea Board, they would certainly deprive the latter of the assistance of the former; added to this the deplorable weakness of the State of Georgia—on every side assailable, almost in constant need of support and too remote to receive it from any other State than this; all which makes it apparent that less than the number I have

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mentioned will render the safety of this valuable Country, as well as that of Georgia, exceedingly precarious.—I hope, Sir, I shall be excused this liberty which the Office I have the honour to fill made me feel it my duty to take.

I beg leave, Sir, in a particular manner, to recommend to your notice the Bearer of this Letter, Major Connor, from whose attention to, and knowledge of his Duty the service has received considerable benefit, he is so intelligent and so well acquainted with every circumstance here that I need not take up any more of your time.

I have just now received information, by Express, from Georgia, that a Party of the Enemy from Saint Augustine, consisting of Three hundred Regulars and as many East Floridans and Indians as make up about a Thousand, with some cannon, had attacked a Fort of ours upon the River Sattilla, which, after a brave resistance, was obliged to surrender: and that they were determined to penetrate still further into the country, that many Circumstances seem to indicate their efforts were to be seconded by an attack upon the Sea board, and it was feared they would be joined by the disaffected in the State of Georgia, of which, I am sorry to say, there are not a few. I have ordered what I think a sufficient Detachment to march from hence tomorrow morning, and shall immediately set out myself.

I have the honour to be,
with the greatest respect
Your most obedient humble Servant
Honble. Jno. Hancock.

[Endorsed] Letter from Genl R. Howe at Charles Town So Carolina.

26 Feby 1777.

Read. 24. March—

Major Connor to be desired to attend the Board.