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Colonial and State Records of North Carolina
Letter from Cornelius Harnett to William Wilkinson
Harnett, Cornelius, 1723-1781
December 08, 1777
Volume 11, Pages 818-819

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York, Pennsylvania, Dec. 8th 1777.

Dear Sir,

I received your favour of the 6th Ultimo, several of those of the dates you mentioned I never received neither do I think I ever shall—several of the Deputies of the Post Office it is believed most scandalously abuse their Trust, and I am certain many letters directed to me, together with such as I write Free upon, are detained by the way, the Members of Congress complain generally of this villanous Practice.

Inclosed is a Hand Bill printed by order of Congress relative to the late Convention at Saratoga, this only came to Congress three days ago—as we have had no press here until within these few days & no Gazette as yet published. I shall send you the first.

I am sorry you purchased Col. Kennon's Bills, as I am afraid you will be puzzled to get the money, nothing but the Governor of So. Carolina's Letters of Credit can save you unless Mr. Kennon's Executors first settle all his accounts with the public. I would advise you immediately to send them on for acceptance & payment— I am obliged to you for the Wilm'ton papers pray oblige me with them as they follow in course or desire Jon. Dunbibin to inclose them to me, I want them all— However to keep you no longer in suspense, I must endeavor to muster up some news for you. You will be pleased first to observe that Congress knows no more of the intentions of the Army than you do, until some event or other takes place, Congress have very wisely determined to put it in Genl Washington's power to keep his own secrets. A Committee of Congress now at Head Quarters have however Informed us that on Saturday the 6th Instant the two Armies were in sight of each other, the Enemy at Chesnut Hill & Our Army at White Marsh, that early in the morning a Schyrmish happened between a Party of our Militia & and an advanced party of the Enemy,—we lost Genl.Erwin taken Prisoner 1 Capt. killed & 3 or 4 Privates wounded, the Loss of the Enemy in killed and wounded not known, but that we took between 20 and 30 Prisoners— A General Engagement was hourly expected, the fate of which will I suppose put an end to this Campaign. Our Army were in the highest

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Spirits & wishing to attack the Enemy—should we be successful in defeating the Enemy, Our Troubles in America on Terra Firma will soon be at an end. But should we be unsuccessful we must be under the necessity of Exerting ourselves to the utmost the next summer. Virginia have however Voted a reinforcement of 5,000 Militia to be sent forward immediately in Case of accidents. Alas: we have few Virginias in the Union. As for Pennsylvania, she is rotten to the very heart, if she is saved, it will not be by her own exertions— I hope the Assembly will open your Courts for the recovery of Debts, That you will immediately begin to lay Taxes as other states have done, that you will call in all the Currency emitted under the authority of the King of G. Britain &c &c these are matters of the utmost Consequence, & Strenuously recommended by Congress to the several states. Our very Existence as a free People depends on Vigorous measures immediately to be adopted.


I wrote Mr. Clayton a few days ago, should you see him you may shew him this incorrect Scrawl & tell him he has no right to expect another line from me until I receive another kind of Letter than such as he wrote me by the Marquis LaFayette. As you desire me to write you a great deal of news, I have some times an Inclination to invent some thing very extraordinary, but this matter I shall Consider of; and remain with my respectful Compliments to Mr. Quince & all my friends.

Dr. Sir
Your sincere friend & obedt. Servt.

Should we beat the Enemy you may be assured of receiviug the earliest intelligence.